April 25, 2009

The Enemy Below

The sump system in my house and I are at war.   The sump system started it.

During the summer of 1987,  a hole was dug in the middle of a corn field by a fat guy on a bulldozer, and in that hole our house was built. He must have done something wrong.  Maybe he was having a bad day, or he was hung over, or something....  While all of the newly constructed basements around us stayed dry, ours filled with water. It submerged the new furnace and deposited a thick layer of muck on the floor.

But the water was removed, the furnace fixed and the muck cleaned up.  And our first sump pump was installed. We moved in, unsuspecting, naive.  Not sensing the enemy under our feet.

It ran constantly.  Even in weeks of drought, it ran.  When it ran, it annoyed me.  Vibrating the floor. When it didn't run, I became suspicious.  Was it planning something?  To quit for good, just when I needed it the most, flooding my basement and ruining all of my basement stuff?

The years went by, and it plotted, waiting for the right moment. Finally, on a Sunday morning, when all of the plumbers charge double time, it fried its own circuits, committing electrical seppuku. I bailed water.  The plumber came and installed a new pump.

The new pump made just as much racket as its predecessor, and though wary of it, I sensed a benevolence in it that its brother never possessed.

Years passed, and the pump cycled on and off thousands of times. One night it cycled on, but not off. The floor vibrated and a loud sucking sound came from the pump hole.  I removed the lid, cautiously, and tapped the pump with a hammer.  It started working again.... but it had given me a warning.

Several days later, I hauled the moldy, dying pump from the hole and replaced it with with a more reliable, powerful model.  This one seems to be happy.  It hums quietly, does its job efficiently and doesn't seem to have a malevolent gear, relay or circuit in its housing.

But, time passes and the water never stops.  Attitudes can change.

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