Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Joys of home ownership, sump pump edition.

Tuesday, O'Dark Thirty:

WIfe: Can you look at the pump in the laundry room?  I think there is a little water seeping from it.
Yours Truly: Seeping?
Wife: Yeah a blanket on the floor was wet before I put it in the washer.
YT: OK, did you test the pump to see if it came on?
W: I guess, I just started the washing machine.
YT: Wait, you started the washing machine? Why didn't you just turn on the slop sink? That way you could turn off the water if the pump leaked?
W: ohhh... I didn't think about that.
YT: (face palm) OK
W: Sorry, is there  a problem?
YT: well, if the pump fails the water will continue to spill over the floor until washing cycle is done. How long ago did you start the cycle?
W:20 minutes?

After the exchange with my wife, as I was getting out of bed,  I wondered to myself how many times was I going to mop the floor today and how many trips to the store this was going to take.  Sight unseen, I put the Over/Under on both of these at 2.5 times.

Walked into the laundry room and found it flooded... not as bad as when the water heater went, but significant.

Turned off the washing machine, cleaned up flood and went upstairs to help get kids ready for school and prepare for battle with the pump. I have zero experience with these things, so I wasn't really sure what I was going to need. So I took some pictures of the label, pipes and the set up and figured when I got to the store I would solicit some assistance for  the clerk. Here's a couple of photos of the working environment.

The clock was ticking as I had a meeeting at the office at 3:30 that could not be changed.

Left the house about 8am and it took me almost an hour to get the store that normally is 15 minutes as there was an accident in the morning commute that snarled everything.

Purchased a replacement pump kit, various clamps, flanges and adjustable extenders.... hmm, sounds like a Saturday Night at J3's place... but I digress.

I returned home and got to work. I suspected that the float was stuck so I plugged in the old pump and  began to shake and jostle the pump around to get the float unstuck to no avail. I used a shop vac and removed about 3 gallons from the 10 gallon bucket and tried again, no luck. OK, I guess the pump is really bad. I started to disconnect the pump from the sink trap, the discharge pipe/valve and vent pipe.  I loosen everything and pulled the pump assembly from the corner and step back for a second to make room to pull the pump from behind the sink. As I did, the suspected float that was stuck suddenly became un-stuck and promptly evacuated about 4 gallons of water through the disassembled discharge pipe that extended up about 3 feet and created "Old Faithful" in the laundry room to my eye level. It continued for a second until I was able to pull the plug that I left plugged in inadvertently. Yeah, that was a smart move by Coop. Let's leave the electricity connected to the pump while you are working on it and there is water present. I was lucky that all I needed to do was clean another mess. Cleaned up the water and pulled the unplugged pump assembly out from behind sink. The good news at this point is the pump still works so maybe I can just clean the float assembly and put this thing back and get to the office for the meeting....

Hey, wanna see what a sump pump looks like that has been in service for a washing machine since 1998? This is after I cleaned it up:

After I pulled everything out I understood how easy this project could have been had I done this before going to the store. Live and learn. I looked at the new Pump kit I bought ($279!) and decided to return it. I just needed the internal pump not the whole kit. That way there was no need to change any of the pipes. Since the old one still worked, I decided that I would buy myself a couple of days and put it back in and just get a new pump and change that over the weekend.  I re-assembled the old pump in the the bucket and put it back in place and hand tightened all of the connections and tested the pump with the sink running... As I waited for the bucket to fill I got distracted and looked away only to have my attention restored when I heard the sound of water splashing on the floor, again... the pump failed.  *sigh*.  Case closed, time to change the pump, its not waiting until the weekend. At least the new Shop Vac is getting a good work out.

Repeat the process, Unplug Pump, clean up water on floor, remove pump assembly, go to store.

Picked up a 1/2HP stainless steel and cast iron pump, as opposed to the plastic 1/3HP version.
Come home and test the new pump before I do anything else, then install it in the sump bucket and re-install the assembly to the pipes/vent. Now armed with a sense of familiarity, was able to get the reassembled pump connected in NASCAR pit crew like time. Test with sink, works like a champ... reconnect washing machine, start the load over again, cycle the water softener, clean up tools, check & test pump again, still working... check watch, its 12:55, so I have time to shower, change and drive to work in time for meeting.

Let re-cap the Over/Under, shall we...
The opening line was 2.5
1. Mopping / shop vac the floor - 3 times, Over - That was a loss for me, I estimated once, maybe twice, certainly not 3.
2. Trips to Store - 2 times, Under. Since I've never done this before I was convinced that this was definitely 2 trips but more likely 3, so I would have taken the over and lost this one as well...

So I lost both, but I have a working sump pump and I know how to handle this type of project in the future... In my eyes,  Ladies and gentlemen, that's a push.

1 comment:

  1. Dude. Does it help if I say I feel your pain? No? Hey, at least it wasn't an after work project starting at about 6:00 PM!