Thursday, January 16, 2014

S.S. Hummingbird

Big plans for big progress this week came to a screeching halt on Tuesday.

Ghon had two days off in a row and planned major progress on the floor. He even wanted to surprise me by starting the staircase.

After making a quick trip into town to purchase a few extra floor boards Ghon headed to the house. And heard running water.

We have a very large root cellar. The entry is from the front porch, and descends into the dining room area. There are two rooms, one that encompasses the full size of the kitchen, the other, half of the living room. The right side holds the well pump and hot water heater.

Tuesday, it also held water about 5 feet deep.

An indoor swimming pool was not in our plans.

Ghon looked down the stairs to the cellar and saw water up the stairs. It filled both rooms and was rising.

After about 90 minutes of pumping. The water covers the bottom two steps and had come up one more.

He quickly turned off the power in the house since he knew there was electric in the cellar. Frantic messages to me, at work with no cellular reception, conversations with Cindy and another trip to Lowes to buy a portable electric pump, Ghon chopped up my 100ft hose and got the water flowing out toward the creek. By the time I found out what was going on, I sat through a few more minutes of a meeting and jet. I stopped to get a stronger hose on my way in (pictured above). Fortunately, the pump was working and Ghon had pulled enough water out to drop the levels by about a foot.

You can see the water line on the door and the wall.

This looks off to the left room. See how high the water was?

This is the room on the right, and how high the water is. See the board floating with antique bottles?

Creating suction to get the pump going.

Output at the edge of the stream.

Such high hopes. Nothing was done in the house. Ghon spent all of his Christmas gift cards to buy a pump rather than a table saw. It was my birthday, and a flooded house was my gift. We had to find the bright spot. Create a little humor. Leave it to Ghon!

Big release!

Having 'fun'

With the pump running and the fun over, it was time to get the kids and dinner. Time to eat good in the neighborhood! We told our daycare provider what was going on in the house and she mentioned that the local fire department had once pumped their crawl space. Wheels in motion, I sent a message to a friend whose husband is the Assistant Chief at the local fire department. Although they were out of town, he was able to get in touch with some department members and we planned to meet up at the house after dinner and they finished calls they were on. Thanks, Assistant Chief Hagenmayer!

North Mountain Volunteer Fire Department - Attack 19 Truck

So thankful these two guys came out! It was COLD that evening.

Down the hole with a plate attachment to better suction the water.

Their hose is bigger than ours.

After a bit, I left Ghon at the house with the fire department and took the kids home. In the end, they dropped the water level to about 3 inches.

The next morning, Ghon headed off to the house to try to find the cause of the issue. About an hour later he came home and tossed this on my desk.

The culprit. Burst pipe from the main water line to the well pump.

The pipe from the well pump had burst. If you look back at the picture of the right side with the floating board, you can see some of the white wash missing on the rock wall. This is where the water was shooting out and hitting.

Ghon's not much of a plumber, but this was a job he felt he could handle, if he had a propane torch. He called Tim who thankfully had a torch. Even better, Tim had copper connectors and the right size pipe. Together, they got the pipe repaired in short order.

The electric was turned back on, and thankfully again, the well pump still worked, and the hot water heater was working too. Ghon still didn't get any work done, but not having to call in a plumber was a major bonus.

That evening, we moved one of the heat lamps from the chicken coop into the basement. All of the remaining water absorbed into the ground to create a nice mudslide. We turned on the single overhead light (a single light bulb), and ran an extension cord down to hang the heat lamp. Fingers crossed it helps keep everything warm enough to not freeze and maybe dry up some mud.

Ghon's father had put lots of pink insulation around the pipes, but we are going to update that a bit to some heat tape or new insulation. Can't have that happening again!

Despite all of the panic and the fear that comes with owning an indoor swimming pool, I had to keep reminding Ghon of the positives, and things to be thankful for, just as Cindy did.

  1. It completely sucked. But he found it before it rose another 2-3 feet, at which point it would likely have seeped into the living room, dining room, and kitchen floors. That would have majorly sucked. Not only that, but he found it period. Ghon doesn't usually have off on Tuesdays, let alone two days off in a row. So glad he went to the house when he did.
  2. Ghon really wanted to buy a table saw with his gift cards. We can use it for so many projects. Instead, it was used to buy a pump. Glad he had the cards to use!
  3. It's a good thing Lowes had a pump in stock!
  4. Now we own a pump. So if this ever happens again, we are set. Or Ghon's preferred thinking, he now has a pump to pull water out of the creek to water our garden this summer.
  5. We had the means to buy a pump, the pump was available, and well, the pump worked.
  6. Hooray for Company 19, the North Mountain Volunteer Fire Department. I am so thankful they helped pump the remaining water out. Ghon would have been there hours with no heat if it wasn't for them.
  7. No one was electrocuted. Remember, there was a bunch of electric down there.
  8. Through this exercise, we found that Ghon's dad wired the well pump and heater to the same circuit breaker. We now know to change this!
I'm sure I could think of more, but you get the point.

If you noticed, these pictures do not command the same quality as my other pictures. I've used my camera so much at the farm and the farm is so dirty, I've jacked up the lens. It started acting up here and there, and now it's nearly fried. Ghon had bought me a new camera for Christmas, but I kept saying I didn't need it. Until last weekend when I wanted to take pictures of the floor progress and the lens wouldn't extend, or would shut down at random. It just wasn't working for me. I gave in and put the new camera in my bag, and as I snapped the first flood picture...realized I'd left the memory card in my computer. We had to resort to cell phone pictures for all the flood action.

No worries, the card is now back in the camera. The new one. The one with a protection plan for when the lens jams this spring from taking it in and out of my pocket while gardening. Or taking pictures while sanding floors. You know, everyday life at the farm.

This is the official 100th post of the Project Farmhouse blog. I wanted it to be the great fireplace reveal. Instead, I got a flood. Guess it's still momentous.

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