This post is a little bit the preparations Kelly and I did, some on accident and others on purpose. There is a second post with some weather trivia which may have bearing during the storm as well. I will probably follow-up with a third post sometime Sunday. First, a bit of history on the last few months. In mid-April as I was about a week away from (my since cancelled) spleen surgery I went down to the basement at about 11 PM on a Thursday night to find a squishy carpet in the theater room.
If the carpet was wet that meant that there was a few inches of water in the basement. Sure enough the laundry room has 2-3 inches of water. I found that the sump pump had failed to activate and run for an extended period of time and allowed the basement to fill. This was really the first problem that had happened with the pump since my dad and I installed it five and a half years ago. I got the pump running by tapping the float and it began emptying. I then did as much as I could to clean up that night.
The next day Kelly and I began the ordeal of removing almost everything from laundry room and parts of theater. Then we pulled up the padding / carpet in a third of the theater and dried the raised floor. We spent the weekend throwing away and cleaning stuff up and putting things under porch outside to get out of the way.
Over the course of the rest of the spring and early summer we tried various things in working on the basement. Cleaning floor with bleach and scrubbing the walls. Then trying to put down some new flooring, which we later removed since it didn’t work well. We threw out even more stuff, cut out some drywall and kept cleaning.
Eventually we just sort of called a truce with the problem for the summer it seemed. Kelly left for Seattle and our new twin nephews. When I went to visit her in early July the basement flooded (much less) again. Our pet sitter did his best to deal with it thankfully.
Once we got back in mid-July I looked at the pump again trying to figure out what was happening. I figured out the float cable had slipped over the years allowing the float to get stuck against the side and not to activate either at all or at the right time. This probably explained most of the issues of the last few months with it. At least that is what I thought.
Last Friday night just as another 2 inch rain dropping thunderstorm rolled through the sump pump just died basically. This time the float was working and everything, it just wouldn’t pump. I could hear it attempt to activate when I moved the float but nothing would happen. This was a problem as there had been 4 inches of rain in the last 24 hours alone. I attempted to deal with the problem with the backup pump I bought 5 years ago (and had never tested) only to find to my dismay as it totally was insufficient. The pump simply couldn’t get the water from well to the sink. This meant filling buckets and carrying them to sink. When draining an entire yard worth of water that isn’t going to work for long.
I left Kelly to bucket bail and went to the store to find a better short and long term solution. When I went out I found that the power was out at stores nearby but luckily the closest Home Depot was still open. I was able to get a new backup pump that is almost as powerful as the main pump and is able to keep up with the incoming water and get it to the sink. The only downside to the pump is it just runs non-stop. Which means you have to watch it to keep it from just sucking air and damaging itself. However, it got us through the night so I could do a proper long term fix the next morning.
The next morning I went out and bought a whole new sump pump system. This system includes both a primary and secondary pump. The secondary pump can activate for one of three reasons. First, the primary isn’t keeping up and I hope this doesn’t happen because that is a lot of water. Second, if the primary pump just doesn’t work which again I hope doesn’t happen anytime soon. Third, most importantly for the next 24-48 hours is it can run off a battery which I got and attached to the system in a power outage.
This new sump pump came all assembled with the dual pumps and everything so installation wasn’t too bad. The hardest part of the installation was just mating the 1.5 inch pipe and rubber clamps by pushing them together. I had to cut a 4 inch pipe to fit the height from old pipe to new pump but that was it. I had the new one installed in under 2 hours and it would have taken me less time if water would have stopped pouring in as I worked. I kept emptying the well to work in.
Since last Saturday the new pump has been humming along and hopefully will keep doing so. The timing of its installation was more by luck and accident it now seems given current circumstances. We also got just a plain old water sensor just in case, something many will probably ask why I didn’t buy 6 years ago? That is a good question.
Now fast forward 72-96 hours to Thursday and the story of Irene starts ratcheting up. Thursday night as it became apparent there was likely going to be high winds and large amounts of rain arrive over the weekend we decided we should finally get everything off of porch from April so it didn’t become projectiles or become any more ruined than it already was. Mostly Kelly (since I wasn’t feeling well) brought in everything from outside. Even bringing it in rushed and not putting it all away it isn’t filling the space which shows how much we have cleaned up since April. However, we still need to organize a bit.
The last thing we did was to get stuff put away in shed in back and with that the back porch is pretty much as ready as it is going to be for Irene. Now to see what it brings in the next 24-48 hours.