Friday, July 2, 2010

The Sump Pump Chronicles

Day One, Monday: 

Bought a new column sump pump at the local indy hardware store. It was on sale! Yay! Saved ten bucks!  Yay!

1/3 horsepower, one year warranty, previous pump lasted 11 years.

My crawl space is has gravel on the floor,  and of course the sump hole is as far away from the door as it can be. I have approximately 36" of clearance with pipes and stuff all over the place that will force one to duck even lower. I have covered part of the floor with 6 mil plastic.

Had not been under there for a couple of years.

Have to gird my loins and every other part of me - tall rubber boots over long socks with sweatpants tucked in. Shirt tucked into pants, long sleeved hoodie over that with hood tied on so no spiders will end up down the back of my neck.

Foam knee pads and rubber gloves complete my ensemble. I look so very fashionable. Oh! And sometimes I wear goggles, too.  Couldn't keep the goggles on too long because they kept steaming up.  It had to be over 80° in there - and the humidity was over 90%.

So I made a careful list of everything I needed so I would only have to make one trip in and out. Dragged all of my tools and such in a back pack and pushed the box (with the pump) ahead of me as I crawled in. Carried a rechargeable flashlight in case the power went out.

I thought of everything.

I thought of everything except for the stuff I forgot.

So I had to crawl back out and get a measuring tape, some duct tape, rope, bungee cords and a few other items. Made sure sump pump breaker was OFF up in the house.

Crawled back in.

Unplugged and removed old pump. Removed flexible hose.

Reattached flexible hose to new pump. Set up the float valve.

Inserted new pump into sump hole (which was full of water) and it tipped over immediately. Could not seem to get it to stay level. Tied it and bungeed it into position finally, replaced the cover, gathered all my tools, plugged it in, and crawled out.

Turned on the breaker.

Nothing happened.

It had tipped over. Found this out after I crawled back again (after turning off the breaker because it is so drenchingly wet under the house I am petrified of getting electrocuted and then who would feed my kitties?). I unplugged it.

Repositioned the beast, reset the ropes and cords, replugged it, crawled back out, staggered up the steps into the house, turned on the breaker, YAY!!! It was running!!!


It shut off after 10 minutes and I could see from the doorway it had tilted again. No more crawling tonight.

Day Two, Tuesday:

Read and reread the little booklet that came with the pump. It suggested that if one were to experience a tilting problem with a flexible hose hookup, one might consider installing a sturdy PVC discharge pipe between the catch valve and the flexible pipe.

So I made a list of needed items and stopped at the local hardware on the way home from the shop.

Bought two rubber flexible couplers with stainless clamps, a five foot length of PVC and one male adapter because they thought I might need it.  Had two hardware guys helping me with this purchase, and it took 20 minutes to come up with this solution.

After I got home, checked the breaker to make sure it was turned off, donned my "outfit" this time I decided to utilize my little red plastic sled to transfer all the goodies underneath to the work site. This also included a half a concrete block which was gonna be my new weight for the sump hole cover.

So I gathered everything including an extension cord and a clip on lamp (did I mention the rechargeable flashlight died halfway through Monday?) and duct tape to protect the plug.  Put my cordless phone into a baggie and brought it with me in case I had a stroke or something.

So I crawled in, pushing the very heavy sled and playing out the extension cord for the clip on lamp.

Unplugged the pump. Unhooked the flexible hose. Measured the PVC. Cut it.

Too long! Was hitting a duct. So I cut it again. This time it fit nicely and I fastened it to the adapter and the check valve with the rubber connector. Inserted everything into the hole and the whole thing came loose. Did it again, only tighter. Came loose again.


Tried the other end, the end that attaches to the hose. Well, they sold me the wrong size flexible connector.


Hooked the thing back up as the original pump had been connected, hose to check valve.

Plugged it back in, crawled back out, got a Charlie horse in my leg climbing through the doorway, managed to make it back into the house, turn on the breaker, it worked for 5 minutes then tipped over again.

I turned off the breaker and went to bed early.

Day Three, Wednesday:

Took the cut length of PVC and all of the connectors to the shop to play with.  Re-cut both ends of the PVC and filed them smooth. Decided that the adapter end needed a build up of something sturdy to even out the gripping space, so I used two film canisters and a short length of blue plastic tubing and at least got the check valve end to fit really well.

Added a few more things to my list like old towels to soak up some of the water lying around on the plastic in the crawl space, and I stopped at the hardware store again on my way home from the shop to exchange the rubber connector to the correct size.

Got home, checked to make sure breaker was off, donned my now rather sweaty and disgusting outfit, gathered the new items for the sled and crawled in.

Unplugged and unhooked everything. Started rehooking up the PVC pipe, and that is when I realized that the new correct connector was still in my purse, upstairs in the house.

Crawled out, got the connector, crawled back in.

Hooked everything up perfectly.

Stabilized the whole get up, wired it into place, very happy.

But I left the sled under the house when I crawled out to turn on the breaker.

Pump worked for ten minutes, I sat in the doorway happily listening to it. Then it turned off and in the sudden stillness I could hear distinct leaking and dripping noises.

By the time I ran into the house, turned off the breaker, ran back out and crawled back under, the leaking had ceased but the rubber connector by the flexible hose, the motor of the pump, and the board covering the hole were all soaked.

So I wiped everything off, unplugged everything, crawled back out, turned off the breaker and went to bed.

I am thinking about just going back to the original set up, returning the two rather expensive flexible connectors, and using the pipe for something somewhere down the line.


Day Four, Thursday:

Checked breaker is off. Crawled under house to put up a clear plastic splash sheet to protect motor from moisture if I have not tightened the connectors tight enough.

Crawled back out - turned on the breaker. Nothing.

Worked out a plan to minimize the crawling.

Turned breaker off, unplugged trouble light extension in garage. Crawled back in, switched plugs - plugged light into sump outlet and plugged pump into extension.

Crawled back out - turned on breaker - light goes on!

Plugged in extension cord. Sump pump does not go on.


This tells me that the outlet is OK, the breaker is OK and the PUMP IS WONKY!!!!!

I am getting ready to haul it out now, repackage it and exchange it for a new one.


OK, so now that I think of it, when I turned it on last night the motor may have gotten a bit wet from the leaking whatever part.

It should be able to stand a little moisture, doncha think? It is a sump pump for crying out loud!!!

Just crawled back in for a looksee and discovered that the sump hole is nearly dry - it had at least 12 inches of water in it earlier - and the plastic splash sheet I taped up is also dry - so I guess I solved the leaking problem and while I was searching online sump pump troubleshooting guides, it must have turned itself on and pumped out all the water.

It is a lot quieter than my old one.

So I just have to keep an ear out for it now for the next couple of days - and the tools in the sled can stay under there for a while.

Turns out not all of the leaks were solved,  another visit to the beast showed some drippy areas so I have tightened all of the clamps as tightly as I can tighten them.

I posted this photo online elsewhere and someone suggested I looked like the Sump Pump Grim Reaper and another person said I looked like the Statue of Liberty (tired, poor, weary) but I think I shall call it......"The Statue of Limitations."

Goin' on a Pump Crawl with the Statue of Limitations.