September 27, 2011

Sump Hell

Let me introduce you to the banes of my existence:

Twin Sonsabitches

These are our two basement sump holes, each containing their very own ejector pumps.  The one on the left is Laundry Sump Pump (LSP) and his brother on the right is Foundation Water Sump Pump (FWSP).  Since our house was apparently built at the outlet of a major river, FWSP runs almost all the time, even if it hasn't rained for 30 days.  LSP runs only when we do laundry or if I decide to piss in the dump sink.  The hole on the right is on it's third pump in 24 years.  In fact, my very first post in April, 2009 was about my experience changing it out during a rain storm.

The hole on the right has only had the pump changed out once ... until today. Yesterday, I was doing about 43 loads of laundry (I kind of let the dirty clothes go for a while) and on about load 42, I noticed a river of suds bubbling out of the floor drain and heading downhill towards FWSP.  I gaped at the suds stream for a few seconds until it finally occurred to me the LSP had given up the ghost.

Since I had changed out FWSP two years ago, I debated whether or not I trusted myself to try to change out LSP, but the bolted down cover and the extra pipe baffled me.  Finally, I admitted to myself that I would probably fuck it up, which would result in a geyser of gross laundry water shooting up my ass the next time I sat on the toilet upstairs.

So I called our plumber, Mark.  And he was nice enough to come out this morning and fix the problem.  Some home repair people like to be left alone while they work, but Mark likes company and takes pleasure in explaining what he's doing, mainly so he can make you feel stupid.

While he was setting up, he took a glance at FWSP and asked what goof I had hired to install it and the fact that wasn't a "Zoeller" pump (Zoeller is apparently the Mercedes Benz of the sump pump world).  When I told him that I had installed it, he just said "Oh, good thing you called me on this one". 

In about 30 seconds, he had the cover off the hole and the pipes disconnected.  We had been chatting while he was doing this and he was wondering what had caused this pump to fail, due to the fact it was a "Zoeller" and that they never fail.

He hauled the pump out of the murky water, took one look at it, and stared at me accusingly.  The pump looked like one of those old drawings of sailing ships stranded in the lifeless Sargasso Sea.  You know, the wrecks adrift, with gobs of seaweed hanging from their masts.

Except that the pump was matted with about 12 pounds of laundry lint.

Mark:  No wonder it burned up.  Don't you have a lint trap in the dump sink?

Me:  Uhhhh ... no.

Mark:  You need a lint trap.  This is disgusting.

Me:  Hey, if there's that much lint on that piece of shit, how much is still in the hole?

Mark:  It's not a piece of shit, it's a Zoeller.  And I don't know.  I'm not sticking my arm down there to find out.

Me:  But you're the plumber.

Mark:  If you're so hot to trot to find out what kind of crap is in the bottom of that hole, you stick your hand down there.  Don't be surprised if you pull back a bloody stump.

Me:  No thanks.

Mark:  Good, then we understand each other.  Let me get this new pump in here and finish this up.

And he did.  What took him a half hour would have taken me half the day and 10 trips to the hardware store.  And even though it'll probably cost me twice what it would have if I had done it myself, sometimes it's better to leave it to the professionals.

Besides, if this pump ends up lasting another ten years or so, I won't have to worry when it breaks, because there's always the possibility that I'll be dead.

Then Jan can deal with it.

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