Sunday, June 12, 2011

Fun With Sump Pumps

While reading the otherwise lackluster News Gazette this morning, I encountered this "eerily similar to my life" column : And Not A Drop To Drink. It recounts the author's recent sump pump failure in her well pit.

Here's my two parts

In March, shortly after buying Mudpies 'n' Fireflies, my mom was visiting to help out for the weekend. While I was doing the lunch dishes, the water pressure dropped momentarily, but then came back. The city boy in me said "Hmmm. No big deal." The logical engineer and experienced country boy in me said "That's not right."

So, after lunch I went out to check on the well. Lo and behold, there was a good three feet of water in our well pit -- above the pressure switch and the pedestal sump pump. The electrical engineer in me was surprised to find the open-motor sump pump happily pumping while fully immersed. The rubber check valve had blown off the plumbing, so the pump was pumping right back into the pit. After shutting off the power (220V + 3ft H2O + Jonathan = bad things), I set to work.

Once the water was pumped down (spare utility pump for just such events), I replaced the pressure switch (also had a spare) so that the family would have water again (Ethan tends to freak out when the toilet doesn't work). Shockingly, when I plugged the sump back in, it started pumping (with a little smoke). Problem solved.

About 9:30 in the evening, I thought I would check on things before bed. Good thing I did because the pump had tipped in the other direction and was stuck on. So, in a blowing snow storm and in the dark, I managed to anchor the pump to the concrete wall. Problem solved (again).

Fast forward three months... After mowing on Saturday, I was spreading the sump hose out when I heard the unmistakable sound of a running motor in the well pit. I pulled off the top and some smoke drifted out. I quickly got the ladder, climbed down, and found the sump had finally given out. Fortunately, I bought a new submersible pump in March in preparation for this day. It seemed straightforward to swap pumps, even in the impending dark. Of course, the fittings didn't match and the new pump didn't fit right in the hole. I composed a short-term solution, but will be down there later in the week after visiting Lowes.

Thanks for the inspiration to write this Mary.

Here's a picture of the well pit (full top off) from when we had our well flushed a couple of years ago (I don't ever get to work down there on a sunny day or even during the day...usually only cold wet or snowy evenings):

From Well Flush