Sunday, February 17, 2008

Sump pumps suck

The husband says to Ali as he's going off to bed, "can you start the sump pump and turn it off before you go to bed". Ali, 10, is all business, she gets her wellies on, tromps down the stairs and stands the sump pump back up in it's bucket and returns upstairs for an hour of relaxation before bed. I know better than to leave it at that. I know that the sump pump is sideways in the bucket because it's hooked up to a temporary hose running out the front window and that the hose has been frozen beneath not one, but 2 storms since the last time it was moved, and the reason the pump is on the temporary hose to begin with is due to the fact that our regular outlet was frozen solid when we went from 60 and raining to -5 in an 8 hour period a month ago. I know that someone needs to go out to unearth the hose from all that ice, and check to make sure water is actually emerging from the end or else the pressure behind the check valve will cause the hose to burst spraying water all over the panel box. So I reluctantly get my boots on and go outside to check because the possibility of a burst will be far more of a problem than a little cold on my toes when I'm winding down for bed. Outside is pure ice. Quinn (nearly 2) has refused to walk outside (even assisted) since Wednesday and basically bursts into tears if I should so much as put her down out of doors. I perform something similar to Monty Python's Ministry of Silly Walks by slamming my heel first through the ice to get at the more stable snow underneath and wade my way to the front of the house. Directly in front of the window is even worse and is so icy I can't even break the snow and it's mounded up slightly from the stuff that slid off the steeply pitched roof (the one smart thing the builders of this house did) and I can't get close to the window let alone unearth the hose. I fumble around the yard looking for anything dark (and mind you it's 7:00 so everything is dark outside) in the snow and jam my hand through the ice in a feeble attempt to locate some part of the hose. But two storms ago was long enough ago not to remember exactly what trajectory the hose went and I came up with nothing. Knowing that the other outlet should be open, and that the pump has been running the entire time I've been outside makes me not want to spend forever trying to locate a hose end that is almost definitely frozen so I return to the cellar with electric screwdriver and wellies and disassemble/reassemble the pump outlet and reroute the water out the nonfrozen (I hope) outlet. I plug the sucker back in and dash outside. I can make it as far as the corner of the house, and I can see that water is indeed flowing from the pipe, which is good, but now I wonder where all that water is going becuse the hose is frozen to the ground and coming out of the front window. Can you beleive that the ice on the snow bank is so hard it holds my enire body weight, and I'm no feather let me assure you, and it's so slick because it was slightly above freezing today, that I can't climb up it at all and I have to pull myself up by hanging onto a branch of the yew bush that's in front of the window. The water has softened the snow where it's fallen and I can feel that the door we placed to deflect the water is still in place so I trudge back inside and sit me down in an area where I can hear the pump (at the desk) and babysit it. It goes off by itself (miracle of miracles) after 40 minutes and I go downstairs to see if it'll start back up and how well of a job it did, and though I wouldn't wear sneakers my wellies are a bit of overkill. I don't trust the sump pump to go on and off on it's own beacuse it's proven too fussy on too many occastions to be reliable so I reach over to unplug it whe I notice that all the water it just sent out of the building is coming right back in through the rock wall. Round 2, tomorrow 5:30 am.


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