Saturday, March 10, 2018

That Sinking Feeling

U.S. Navy Photo by MC2 Mark Logico
Friday. Normally a good day, even if I have to work, as it's a short day. Eight hours instead of nine.

Not this most recent Friday though, yesterday as you read this.

Got up, had plans, noticed that one of the feline staff had had an accident on the bathmat in the downstairs loo. As I had things to do, I cleaned it as best I could. As the felines are getting on in years, they occasionally don't make it to the litter box in time, so they just go.

Anyhoo, I decided that I'd have to run the mat through the wash later, so I opened the basement door and tossed the mat down into the basement. I heard something that no one ever wants to hear in their basement.

A splash.

Yes, a splash which indicated the presence of water on the basement floor. Venturing downstairs I saw that we now had an indoor pool at Chez Sarge. Okay, it wasn't that bad, maybe a quarter inch of water. Of course, the basement is supposed to be dry innit? So a quarter inch, while seemingly such a wee sma' amount, is a quarter inch too much.

Now I understood why the felines opted out of using the litter box in the basement, they're not big on wading.

We've had this problem before in the nearly nineteen years we've had this house. I think this is the third time. With the right combination of circumstances the ground water level reaches a point where the opening in my basement floor where the town water supply enters makes a nice entry point for the higher than normal ground water level.

Two weeks ago we had a nor'easter, torrential rains, and high winds. Basement stayed dry as a bone. On Wednesday last, we again had lots of rain, which turned to snow. Basement was dry as a bone.

Two days after the storm, the house does its imitation of the Titanic, after hitting the iceberg.

My lovely Friday became a fun day of sweeping the water down the drain and running the pump. It was kind of like curling, but in water, not on ice, and there was no stone. Eventually the bulk of the water had been evacuated. But the ground water is still high, so the water continues to seep into the basement. So every half hour I have to run the pump, otherwise the indoor pool will return.

It's midnight on Friday as I write this. I need to run the pump again soon. It's going to be a long, long night.

Eventually the ground water will subside, it takes a day or so. I foresee fun times ahead.

And the purchase and installation of a sump pump.

Normally this doesn't happen, but we don't normally get nearly back-to-back nor'easters either. Might get another one next Monday.

Live on the coast they said, it'll be great they said...

Well, usually it is.

Just not today.


48 comments:

  1. SHOP VAC makes what they call a pump vac, it is basically a shop vac with a water pump built in. I had one for years, until I wore it out using it as a regular shop vac, which it is intended to be used as, it is dual purpose. It works real slick, they are Badger Approved. Hook a garden hose to the pump vac, drop the other end in the floor drain, and away you go!

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  2. I hate it when that sort of thing happens. I really, genuinely, hate it.

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  3. When I lived in RI (Portsmouth) a sump pump came with the house. Worked great--until we lost power.

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    1. Yes, there's that whole "enough rain to need a sump pump = enough rain to knock out power" concept. Haven't had that happen yet, hope I don't get to experience that.

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  4. It's always somethin' with owning a house, ain't it? My sympathies.

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    1. Ain't that the truth Juvat! Owning a home (okay, paying the mortgage on a home) is grand- until it isn't. A key part of the decision process when I bought my current home was that it was on a high spot. I'd had my fill of water in the basement or even crawlspace. Nosirree Bob.

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    2. Juvat - it most certainly is "always something."

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    3. Ron - we live on a hill, unfortunately it's not the top of the hill.

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    4. When my wife and I were buying our house we found through happenstance that looking at homes right after a big rain was very informative. Several houses that we would have spent much time evaluating otherwise ended up getting quickly struck off the list.

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  5. I’m thinking it’s kinda nice to have a basement.
    Nothing worse than finding water on the bedroom floor. (DAMHIK)

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    1. Um yes, basements are good. A flooded bedroom would most definitely suck!

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  6. Had this problem right after we moved to Brunswick, ME. As there was no sump pump to remove said water, we ended up with 3-4 inches. As we were still in the process of unpacking, many boxes were still there about. Lost quite a bit due to water damage. What I remember most was all my high school and college yearbooks.

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  7. As my late father counseled, high, dry, and windy.

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    1. Rhode Island has the windy part. Not so much the high and dry though.

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  8. Fortunately, I have never had to deal with water where I didn't want it at home due to the water table. My only story involves my old 1975 Ford Courier. It was a bare bones beater that got me through college, and later was my errand and to work and back transport. (Those Japanese built four-banger engines were just about bullet proof.)So one summer day in Chico (CA) I was on my way home with my mind on auto pilot, when I became aware of a strange sensation. The inside of my windshield was fogging up, and the air smelled funny. It took a moment or two for my brain to process this, and them for me to look down at the floorboards. Yes, I was sinking. Turns out that the heater core had given it's last and sprung a leak.

    I made it home, and then simply connected the engine block heater outlet directly to the return. This being he late 80's, I pleasantly surprised to find a replacement core still in the system. As I said, bare bones, so the install only took an hour or so.

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    1. I have a sinking car story, I can't remember if I've told it before.

      I'll have to check the archives.

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    2. I had that happen to me. However, in my case it was January in the Chicago suburbs, about 20 degrees, and I was driving on the interstate during rush hour at about 60 miles an hour with the defroster going full blast. The inside of the windshield got about a 1/8" layer of ice on it in VERY short order and I had to drive home with the window open leaning out of it. This attracted the notice of the local law enforcement establishment once I got off the expressway and started to drive through town. By the time they stopped me I was just a few blocks from home. After that was established they let me go. Replacing the heater core was a bit of a PITA but I had no alternative and got it done.

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    3. I won't say I've never driven with a fogged/iced up windshield, won't say I have either.

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  9. Too bad you couldn't go to a boat store and pick up a battery powered bilge pump with a good float switch and a spare battery some where for those days you don't have power.

    As to the water entrance, is there any way to make a skirt around it and plug up any small holes (like a pipe coming in.) I mean, if it mostly worked for Sherman tanks in Europe, it might work if the entrance point is only your access hatch.

    I, too, have woken up to a sinking feeling and the sound of squish, twice. Once was enemy action upon my waterbed while I was gone, fortunately water was contained by the liner so it just meant draining, drying, patching and clipping nails of the cats (rat bastards!)

    The other time was also enemy action, when a blue funk blew through, causing me to forget to turn the water off of the kitchen sink at the same time it was plugged up. Wouldn't have been so bad but I went to bed and only discovered the water pouring out of the kitchen when I got up 4 hours later to get rid of some other 'flooding' if you know what I mean.

    Oh well, a little water never hurt anyone, much, as long as they didn't drown in it.

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    1. Ah, were the solution so simple. I mean the bilge pump etc., would work if I enlarged the hole. I am also reluctant (read cheap) to spend money on a once every ten years (or so) event. Might need to make that leap soon.

      And a new roof is in the offing this summer, and those ain't cheap.

      As has been mentioned above, the joys of home ownership.

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  10. I've had this issue in several houses. Currently the water table is so high that the sump regularly goes off once or twice a day even in dry weather...no flooding however. During Sandy without power for over a week I did some heavy bailing out of the sump about 10 times a day or more.

    Sump pumps with a french drain are great!

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    1. Yup, I think I'll be investing in same.

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  11. The sump pump at Casa de Sharon y Glenn in Wichita never failed. We do have that part of the year where the severe weather can flood streets and cause general mayhem.

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    1. There is much about the building of this house which remains a mystery to me. Why no sump pump? Who knows? I will probably remedy that this year.

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  12. My sympathies for your damp basement. The west coast does not seem to be big on basements, as in only one of the houses I have lived in since moving west has had one. It ( no basement ) does have its good and bad points.

    Thanks for the post.
    Paul L. Quandt

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    1. Perhaps basements are an East Coast thing?

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    2. There are homes out here with basements.
      They're pretty much all pre-war (WWII) or on farms in the Central Valley.
      There isn't much of an issue with water table out here.

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  13. I live on the seventh floor, so if I have flood problems... I'll be needing an ark.

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  14. I usually stay away from profanity, but in your position, I think I might have cursed the verdamp basement.
    Hoping you're high and dry soon. Or at least high!

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    Replies
    1. Cursing was involved. Copious amounts.

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  15. Our house was (literally) built in a swamp. About 15 years ago, the basement was wet all the time as the French drains that were installed when the house was built plugged up. About 7 years ago, hubby hired a guy to jack hammer out a trench all the way around the basement walls and leading into the sump pump. So, now the basement is (usually) dry, with a stream running through it, unless we get very heavy rain (then water seeps through the walls) or if the power goes out. Then we have 2 hours before the floor begins to flood as the trench fills up. About 2 years ago, I talked hubby into buying a new sump pump as the old one had been there since 1963, and I firmly believe that all things mechanical fail, usually at the worst possible time...I'm just a pessimist, or so I've been told. So, Menard's was running a sale on a cast iron, non-China made sump pump. We bought it and set it in a corner of the basement. Two months ago, I go downstairs to put wood in the stove first thing in the morning, and the kitty box is surrounded by water. "Ok, so that's why kitty was down here crying". Woke up the man of the house, and then spent an hour helping to pull the old pump out and drop the new pump in. Everything was reasonably good to go in time to eat breakfast and for him to go to the hardware store with his buddy as he needed a rubber connector to replace the paint sticks and duct tape make shift patch from the one discharge pipe to the pump pipe as the lady of the house (me) objected to leaving it like that. "I don't care! It will not hold and when it goes, all of YOUR tool bench will get soaked...and I will not help dry that out. And wet reloading equipment can't possibly be a good idea!" "Mumble, mumble..."
    3 hours later a more permanent fix was installed.
    Now we just have to pick up a back up one again...

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    1. A swamp? I'm hoping you got a good deal on the land.

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    2. Hubby's dad got the good deal. There were many truck loads of fill dumped before the house was built. By the time I came along, it was all paid for. Upside is we get lots of birds and wildlife due to all the water as there are 3 ponds and several streams/brooks/creeks.

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    3. I can imagine that it must be pretty, lots of wildlife is a plus (to me anyway).

      Sounds idyllic, save for the occasional flooding that is.

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    4. Have a spare rubber connector on hand. After a while a combination of the pressure and the vibration as the pump goes on and off will cause it to split, and the next time the pump goes off you'll have water spraying all over something.

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  16. Hey Boss, seems like over the last couple weeks you might want to consider a portable generator and a shop vac. Just sayin’ both come in real handy at unforeseen times.

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    1. You make two good points. Expensive, but on the up side, if I have them, odds are I won't need them.

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  17. Hope you didn't lose anything valuable in the basement. It doesn't take much. We had a washer break down and water flowed into the garage the same time we had a garage full of brand new kitchen cabinets for a remodel we were doing. The wood got wet, expanded, ruined two of them. Can't really complain though, especially in comparison to Houston.

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    1. That remains to be seen. We have most of our stuff in the basement either on pallets or on 2x4s. The water didn't get that high, but note that I said "most of" as opposed to "all of."

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Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)