Water will find its way downhill

Second only to fundraising, stopping water damage is the single most significant task in the process of preserving historic buildings — or any buildings for that matter.

Each roof or ground drainage project is a learning process, and we need more young people who are willing to learn how to use tools to improve drainage and limit water damage.

Now that we are working to bring the heat back to the 94-year-old Kump House, we must deal with water leaking into the boiler room. Rain water flows from the top of the hill above Seneca Road, down through the orchard, across the driveway, and through cement basement walls into the space where we plan to connect two new gas boilers.

Water in the driveway caused the original asphalt to crack and created a hole beside the basement steps.

To assess the problem under the asphalt, a City Street Department crew used a backhoe to cut a hole 2′ x 10′ x 5′ beside the stairwell. Beneath the deteriorating asphalt they found broken cement and a small air space where water collected.

About six inches down the backhoe hit the original black loam, and six inches beneath that, it hit clay and shale similar to what people find in other areas under Elkins streets.

That first dig was mainly to find out what caused the asphalt to fall away. We decided not to make any changes until Operations Manager Bob Pingley assessed the situation.

Because we expected heavy rains in the next few days, the crew filled the hole with gravel.

When Mr. Pingley looked at the driveway he said the leak was caused by a separation between house and deteriorating asphalt. We need to determine high and low points in the surface and hire a paving contractor to slope asphalt away from the house.

Contractor Ed Devine called upon John Gallager to bring his transit (a telescope mounted on a tripod set at right angles with the horizontal axis).

Mr. Devine used his retractable measuring tape to measure the distance from each point in the drive to the level on the sight line of the transit sitting 57 inches above ground. The highest place in the driveway was almost two inches higher than the transit reading at 55.3 inches, and the lowest spot we measured was at 69 inches — about a foot lower than the level of the transit.

Now we know how much the driveway slants toward the house and that we need to add new black top near the house so that the surface will slope away from the house at least one inch down for every 10 feet out. This means that the top of the asphalt next to the house will have to be about four inches higher that it is now.