No shit there I was…
For no reason whatsoever the basement was entirely flooded. Actually scratch that; the only people who think things happen for no reason whatsoever are socialists explaining economics and hippies dismissing engineering. There was a reason; the reason was because life sucks.
I also have to comment about the handyman/carpenter who was there at the time. The dude is a goddamn hero! But what really stands out is that I had brought him to my house for very small simple project and when we descended the cellar stairs I discovered Armageddon and he didn’t even crack a smile. Think about that. He took a job expecting to make a couple hundred bucks but suddenly it turned into big money and he don’t even smile. That kind of sparing my feelings is priceless. (Actually it has a price. I cut the check a few days later but I’m still thankful.)
The details are pretty boring but I reflect on the immediacy of that moment. Once there’s water in the basement it’s all about getting the job done and nothing about planning. Schedules were cancelled. All of life went on hold. It’s all practical. No theoretical. Here’s a hint, I’d vote for damn near any politician who could actually fix my basement on their own but a politician is all talk and no balls so they can’t even try. That’s what you need to know when thinking about politics. As for me, I cut the power, swore, made peace with a big expense, and got to work on what would consume every waking moment for a few days.
What surprised me most was that my basement isn’t very good at keeping water out but for some reason it was really good at keeping it in. Go figure.
As a certified survivalist nutcase, tinfoil hat wearing, redneck Curmudgeon I have plenty of tools and supplies to handle most “unexpected” events but this one got a little chaotic. For example, we needed a pump to clear my fledgling Batman style swimming pool. I happen to have a sump pump but it has its own history.
The saga of the sump pump: when I was dumb enough to buy this house I knew the septic system was shit. (See what I did there?) We muddled through as best we could for a few years but finally there came a moment when it simply couldn’t move enough water to do its job. I was broke. Unlike most Americans I still adhere to the simple value of not buying shit you can’t pay for (try it sometime… it’s interesting). Instead of putting a whole septic system on debt I built a graywater system to limp by for a while. I cut into one of the septic lines in the basement, which only took water from the kitchen, the dishwasher, and washing machine. I added a valve and an S trap such that when I opened the valve graywater would go into a large plastic container. I stuffed a cheap sump pump into the container and then ran flexible hose out into the yard. Shockingly, it worked incredibly well! I opened the valve and thereby intercepted half or more of the graywater going into our septic system, the pump did it’s job flawlessly, and the grass was greener, and the septic tank could handle the reduced load of the bad stuff. I put off the septic tank job for several uneasy months. Later, when the septic was rebuilt properly (or what passes for proper given the monkeys I hired to do it), I closed that valve and forgot all about it.
So we needed a sump pump pronto and Curmudgeon that I am I had to fish around in a gnarly recycled plastic bucket that’s had standing water since Obama’s first election. The sump pump emerged with… Ick. Yeah that’s the word; ick. And when we plugged it in the ick stuck and the pump did nothing but make a squealing sound like it was going to die. Lesson learned, when you build an auxiliary graywater system it behooves you to properly decommission it.
The handyman, who is a goddamn hero, took the pump to my garage and started hitting it with various objects. This fixed it. Meanwhile I managed the hose which I’d cleverly heaped in a big slimy pile in a crawlspace. I routed it from my Batman basement to the lawn.
With the two of us working together it didn’t take too long for him to repair the pump and me to string the hose. Since the power was down we strung an extension cord from the garage. I engaged the pump because if someone is going to get electrocuted it might as well be me. The pump sprang to life, charged the line, and three different fittings exploded. Lesson learned, cheesy hose clamps from an old redneck hack job might be loose. Twenty minutes later we had tightened all that could be tightened and tried again. The clamps held and the hose sprung a leak. Lesson learned, crappy old flexible hose that has been sitting for several years in a crawlspace might not be pristine. We duct taped a pinhole leak, then another pinhole leak, then four more pinhole leaks, until I was out of duct tape and I had to use up the real stuff (gorilla tape). Several more leaks and we had it done.
That’s when the fittings that hooked the hose to the pump failed.
This was the first of several runs to the hardware store. Setbacks like this continued most of the afternoon. In the end we pumped out most of the basement with a sump pump, and another inch with a tiny bilge pump I happen to have. I think I swore enough to make some of the water evaporate.
Did I mention of the power was still off? I could not turn it on until I found the original leak and fixed it.
But you’ve heard enough of my stupid saga for one day. More, including the jackhammer, will be in my next post.