Monday, January 02, 2006

The great flood

Our back yard is at the bottom of a gentle slope which ends at our house. This means that when it rains we get lots of water in the yard which all wants to run through the garage. To counteract this nasty effect we have two pumps to move the water from the back yard around the house and out to the gutter. Both pumps connect to the same pipe. This works great.

Most of the time.

When leaves clog up the pump inlets they don't work as well, pumping about half of the water that they should, or less. This makes the pumps run all the time to keep up with the rain water, then they overheat and stop running.

Not so good.

This morning it was raining likes weasels and ferrets. So the pumps sucked and sucked until they had sucked in enough junk into the inlets that the one right next to the garage door did the aforementioned "stopping". Of course you find this out when you open the door from the house into the garage and you see a half inch deep river going by.

Not so good.

This has happened before so we have moved many of the things that can get ruined up off the floor, but you still get a very wet garage floor and whatever is on the floor gets wet and nasty.

"Bob, how do you ever take care of this problem?!" you say.

"With my bare hands", I say. Well, more or less.

So the first thing you do is put on the rain gear, cause it's still raining like weasels and ferrets. The rain gear consists of a jacket that rides up in the back when you squat down to work on something that is below ground like, um... a sump pump for instance. This helps the rain run down the small of your back. There are pants too, but you decide not to put them on since you want to get right to the work. (This is a foolish mistake by the way) Then you put on waterproof gloves that go up to your elbow. You hope that the water you need to reach into is not deeper than the distance from your hands to your elbow, but no promises here kids. Then you get on with the fun part.

You go out to the sump pump and wade through three inches of water that is running under the door into the garage. Unplug the pump that is mysteriously not running. Wonder to yourself if Orchard Supply Hardware is open or not, and how long it was since you bought this $90 pump. Pull up the concrete pump cover. By now the dogs have joined you and are attending your every move. If it moves they sniff it. Then you reach way into the water and undo the coupling that fits the pump outlet into the pipe that runs round the house. Once you undo that (with the dogs sniffing you) you pull up the pump. Of course the inlet is clogged.

Unclog the inlet, then plug the pump back in. It doesn't run of course and then you see the steam rising from the pump motor which tells you that the pump has been getting really hot even though it was submerged in very cold rainwater. Then you notice the water coming in the pipe that leads back to the other pump. "Golly, that makes things worse." you say to yourself except you don't say golly.

Pump one seems to be out of comission so you turn your attention to the other pump in hope that it will be working.

It is, but only a little.

You pull the pump up out of the muck and unclog it too. Plunge it back into the water and voila you are now pumping lots of water back into the hole that the other pump goes into. Hmmm. So you hold your gloved hand over the open end of the pipe where pump one connects until the other pump catches up with the water and shuts off.

Now you think, "Maybe the stopped pump will work now that it has cooled off?" You plug it in and lo and behold, it runs. Cancel the trip to OSH.

You reconnect the now working pump. Of course the water is about an inch deeper than before. Remember the elbow length gloves that you hoped were long enough...

With water filled gloves you tighten the coupling and plug in the pump. Yes Virgina, both pumps are on GFCI protected outlets. You watch intently as both pumps drain the sumps enough for you to reach the bottom. Luckily you can reach the bottom by kneeling on only one knee in the muck (remember the pants decision?) so you can grab handfuls of waterlogged leaves and twigs and mud.

As you throw the muck aside, the dogs inspect every handful and come over to you anxiously as if to say, "Hey, that's good muck. Why are you throwing it away?" Then they get in the way of the next handful you are throwing. FYI, wet dogs don't care if you throw mud on them. Then the dogs run in the house to tell the family about the great muck that is getting squandered by the alpha male. Luckily they don't track in TOO much mud, but of course they're pretty wet so they drip on the floor. As you watch the water receding you hear your wife muttering in the house about the wet dogs.

Things are starting to settle down. With muck cleared, pumps running, and new floor mats right near the dog door, you go into the garage to rescue any items that are in danger, and change out of the rubber boots and back into sneakers. Trudge back into the house and change out of the clothes that were clean 45 minutes ago.

Head straight for the pantry and get down the rum. Pour three ounces of rum over some ice and cover with cherry cola. Blog.


Jes said...

I had a eucalyptus branch in my back patio...but some how it's not the same...=)

Bob Collier said...

I have to agree. It seems like when it rains it pours for me. Once when were living with a roommate in San Carlos we had a storm like this one. The oak trees at the back of the property lost one or two huge limbs that fell into the creek below which created a dam. The city came out and cleared the creek but then we had to cut up and remove the rest of the fallen stuff and haul it back up the slope about 20 feet. It made a HUGE pile of brush and cut wood. It took us days to finish.

grace said...

Sounds like you had a [insert very bad water/rain/muck pun here] start to your new year.

Hope the rest of the year is boobalicious!

Bob Collier said...

Thanks Gracie! Keep those knitty pictures coming on Knithead!