The Joys Of Homeownership: Part 5: I Will Sell You On eBay

The next morning our handyman/carpenter/hero arrived bright and early with a smile on his face. I hobbled around the kitchen whining about aches and pains but there’s no rest for the wicked and our handyman/carpenter/hero works like a machine. Can’t let ‘em see you sweat. Am I right? I was hard at work before finishing my 1st cup of coffee.

Water, tricky little bastard that it is, flows downhill. My basement is the perfect definition of downhill from everything. Thus, pumping it out was an exercise in frustration.

Of course I’m not the only guy who has experienced a flooded basement. The solution is to have a small portion your basement lower than all the rest and install a sump pump there. This includes a suitable discharge pipe, adequate power, battery backup, and… oh hell I might as well ask for a rainbow too. But it is true that most people around here are already prepared like that. I wasn’t and it was my fault and I suck and there was nothing I could do about it. It was time for me to repent and undo the tragedy of my ill preparedness.

This is a long way of saying it was time to bring out the jackhammer. If you’re a homeowner you know that it’s never good news to employ a jackhammer. It’s the nuclear weapon of homeowner’s tools. Once the jackhammer has been unleashed you are in for the ride all the way to the end.

The point of no return.

The point of no return.

So the handyman/carpenter/hero started destroying the one thing about my basement that works, the fact that it’s a water barrier. Busting it open annoyed me. After all, 90% of the time the goal is to keep water out. The fact that it can keep water in was proof that it could actually keep water out. Frankly nothing in my house works and it bothered me to destroy the one thing that was actually working. How was my poor little blood red “Silence of the Lambs” basement to know that the water was on the wrong side? In a fair world the basement floor would get a medal for bravery and the failed flexible pipe would be drawn and quartered.

I started hauling 5 gallon buckets of broken concrete up the stairs. I couldn’t keep up.

I did some math. I was missing out of work at X dollars per hour. I was hiring a handyman/carpenter/hero at Y dollars per hour. We were renting a jackhammer at Z dollars per hour. X plus Y plus Z equals too much.

We have kids. Kids are a joy and a light of life. There are also expensive and a pain in the ass. And now, they were going to be labor.

The kids are teenagers and therefore useless. They were still asleep! I hadn’t even had a full cup of coffee and I was covered with rock chips and mud. I intended to gently rouse my beloved offspring in a loving manner. Alas it came out something like this:

“Get your ass out of bed this instant!”

The kids blinked at me sleepily. They were probably wondering what the hell their lunatic old man was screeching about this time. I tried to be reasonable:

“I’m burning X plus Y plus Z dollars every hour. This is a goddamn emergency! It’s go time! Meet me in the basement.”

I stomped out, pleased that I’d communicated the full import of the situation.

Several heavy buckets of busted cement later I realized I was still doing all of the hauling and the carpenter/handyman/hero was doing all of the jackhammering and nobody else was doing Jack Shit! I stomped back up to the kids’ room.

“If you are not dressed and in the basement and hauling buckets of dirt in the next five minutes I will sell you on eBay!”

I don’t think Dr. Spock would approve. Fuck Dr. Spock. That asshole didn’t have to maintain a homestead.

The kids came down and helped out. I’d like to say that we all worked together and maybe sang old timey songs and cheerfully rose to the occasion. I even hollered a few bars of “Sixteen Tons” but they didn’t go for it. What really happened is we all collectively decided that life sucked, our backs’ hurt, and misery was our lot in life. The rather small hole we excavated really beat the hell out of us!

Maybe they’ll learn from this and do well in school and get filthy rich so they can hire shit done. Either that or they’ll be brainwashed in college and call their ObamaPlumber on their ObamaPhone from a safe space. Either way they’re not inclined to a career in plumbing.

On the other hand we got it done fast and I got that jackhammer back at the rental place in record time. Then I took the kids out for milkshakes on the way home from the rental place. Really what we were doing was hiding from our carpenter/handyman/hero who is a seriously hard worker. Honestly, I think that guy could work twenty men into the ground. I’m in awe.

Having hauled what felt like sixty metric tons of rock and dirt from the basement we started hauling buckets of mixed concrete back down. For those of you who haven’t experienced this joy, the process is to place a plastic form into the hole you’ve made and then to cram concrete in all sides to fill the void. It’s a messy job and I wound up covered from head to toe in concrete but, and all credit goes to our carpenter/handyman/hero, the end result was pretty nice. The kids vanished.

After that we installed a brand-new sump pump. We debated installing the old one, which was working after a bit of persuasion, but I opined that I wanted to 1.) Die before I had to replace another sump pump and 2.) Live a long time. So I bought a bigger and shinier pump and we installed that. We plumbed it right into the septic system. I wanted to spew water onto the lawn redneck style but my handyman/carpenter/hero asked “what if it’s frozen outside” and I deferred to his wisdom. I plan a better power hookup but for now it’s a short heavy extension cord.

In order to test it I dumped a full bucket of water in the vicinity. It flowed down into the hole (gravity works y’all!) and accumulated in the sump pump’s new lair. This lifted the float valve which automatically turns on the pump and it was sucked into the septic system. Sweet!

I cackled with glee! I capered about! I slapped everyone on the back (with my filthy hands) and congratulated our handyman/carpenter/hero on our amazing success. “Our long national nightmare is over!” I enthused. (Nobody gets Nixon/Ford jokes. Barbarians! OK fine, so it wasn’t that good of a joke. Cut me a break, I was tired.) The kids shrugged their shoulders and left amid a heated debate over who would be the first to take a desperately needed shower.

I dumped four more buckets of water just to prove that it would work. I had faced disaster and survived! Our carpenter/handyman/hero is used to my personality so he just chuckled. In the future, when life seems too much and the weight on my shoulders seems unbearable, I’m going to go into my “Silence of the Lambs” basement and dump buckets of water on the sump pump until everything seems better.

Behold the glory of the sump pump!

Behold the glory of the sump pump!

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About Adaptive Curmudgeon

I will neither confirm nor deny that I actually exist.
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11 Responses to The Joys Of Homeownership: Part 5: I Will Sell You On eBay

  1. Mark Matis says:

    Your handyman not only showed up when you first called him, but he REAPPEARED for at least a second day after seeing what he was going to have to do???

    Either he is a truly holy man, or he is the devil incarnate. Did payment for the job include your soul?
    }:-]

  2. abnormalist says:

    Can I get your handyman’s card?
    I’ll be happy to pay the first class plane ticket to my home town to replace the junkies and losers we have available.

  3. Anonymous says:

    “I wanted to spew water onto the lawn redneck style” There’s another way? Protip: doing that with fuel oil kills grass.
    ” I plan a better power hookup but for now it’s a short heavy extension cord.” HA! It will always be a short heavy extension cord. All temporary things become permanent.

  4. Wolfman says:

    As with politicians and lawyers, 99% of ‘handymen’ give the rest a bad name. Congratulations, your handyman/carpenter/warrior angel of home improvement is a 1%er.

  5. jon spencer says:

    Above the union, a T, 2 valves and a hose barb.
    Then you have a choice as to where you want the water to go.

    • Nice idea but at the break (between wellhead and pressure tank) I didn’t add a T. Upstream I put a hose barb (not sure of the vocabulary) in the 1″ “flexible pipe”. In the middle I put about a foot of much more flexible hose and a big brass valve that cots a mint. Then I ended with a hose barb.

      Famous last words but I didn’t foresee a time when I’d want a T. When would I to shut off the supply to the pressure tank but would want to intercept water pressurized by the pump?

      Stay tuned because the pluming’s fat lady didn’t sing. There was more. (Ugh… there’s always more.)

  6. B says:

    Pipe your sump pump out to the outside.

    Easier on your septic system.

    Simply put a vacuum breaker at the highest point. then the discharge hose can drain outside.

    Mine has worked that way for 20 years. Never froze even in -25 weather.

  7. Max says:

    You should consider a Y-valve somewhere in the discharge line. One way goes into the septic for when it’s frozen, one way goes into the yard for when it’s not. You might even plumb that into a flower bed or something similarly clever so you can one-up those granola-munchers who recycle bath water, insist upon telling about it, and smell like it too.
    The reason you should do this will become painfully obvious: when the water breaks through and water is running in freely, the pump will happily fill the septic tank. What do you think will happen then? It’s going to be a lot worse than just a damp basement. Also, warm water going out that pipe will keep it from freezing solid so long as it has a bit of a slope.

    • Not a bad idea. I’ll add that to my list of shit I ought to do. I like the idea of a choice in output. I have a huge septic tank (it’ll take a while to fill it) but it’s not infinite. Also any time I’m cranking water into the tank (unless it’s another plumbing failure) is likely to be in the middle of very wet conditions; precisely when the leach field will be lowest efficiency.

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