CATEGORY: PORT TOWNSEND HOUSE
One interesting thing that happened during the basement construction was that the old plumbing waste line wasn’t deep enough to service the basement, so a new one was required. To do this, there had to be a new deeper ditch dug, and it had to cross the street in front of the house to reach the main sewer line.
Jerry Lindsey was the excavator for replacing the line. The first day of work, he came to the house and showed me a six foot split piece of one inch board. He had found it in the part of the old line under the street where it had turned down to connect to the much deeper sewer. He said that back when sewers and plumbing were first installed in Port Townsend, the custom was to seal the joints in the cast iron waste line with hot lead, and the way the lead was smoothed on the inside was to put a rag on the end of a stick and push it back into the line to wipe the joint. He said someone must have forgotten it, gone home at the end of the day and left the stick and rag in the line. The rag had flushed away but the stick was still there.
We had already replaced the waste line because of complaints from our renters, but they only kept complaining. Now we knew why. Esther Hausmann, a neighbor, later told me that as long as she could remember, that waste line had been dug up and replaced about once every year, but they had never replaced the part under the street. Neither had we when we had replaced it: digging a ditch across the street involved the city and the closure of the street—all kinds of fuss. What a lucky thing it was that we decided to add a basement. We would never have known what was the matter with the drain.