Sunday, March 31, 2019

It's a Gusher!

Oh yeah…it’s been a rough winter.  I’m ready for a break.

A few days ago, I woke up to the regular howling fest at 6AM that alerts me to the beginning of the day. I made my usual trek to the basement to bring the dogs outside for their first potty break.  To my horror I stepped down into maybe an inch of water. Between the howling and the water it was a rude awakening! 

I started shrieking, waking Rainey who was here visiting with her two dogs.  I waded through the wet mess and got all the dogs out and safely kenneled. Rainey joined me after she got her own dogs outside for their first potty break. If there is a silver lining to this new minor disaster, it’s that it happened when Rainey was here. As luck would have it, Frank had left a wet/dry shop vac which sucked up 3 gallons in 17 seconds! Rainey is a lot stronger than I am, so for each of two days she carried 20 or more 3-gallon buckets up the stairs. Then the two of us schlepped the thing across the driveway and dumped the water out onto the slope into the woods.

Things seemed to be under control. The water went down and looked to be slowing down. The dog crates were dry. The furnace did sit in water for a good while, and all the rugs and carpets were wet, but nothing serious was damaged. we hefted the soggy rugs by wrapping them in heavy duty plastic (again, Thank You, Frank) and woman-handled them outside. The weather was windy and warm, so we draped the carpets over the numerous ladders (two that Frank left me, and others that I have somehow acquired) to dry.

Tired and hungry, we took a break and went to the Effie CafĂ© for breakfast. Now, Kathy (who has been an awesome advocate for me in the past) owns the restaurant. And her step-son Jeff owns the Country Service gas station/post office/convenience store/liquor store/auto repair/tree service/excavation/snow removal/supplier of pretty much all of life’s necessities except plumbing and HVAC.   I had texted him earlier for help because he was the installer of the drain tile system. That afternoon he arrived with a long ice breaker and shovel to try to dig out the end of the 300-foot pipe that brings melting ground water away from the house to drain into a gully. He couldn’t find it. It was so buried by debris, erosion, snow, and ice that it was clear the job was going to be more complicated. The daylight was fading, and Jeff was late getting to his granddaughter's birthday party so the project was put on hold until the next day.

Next morning--flooded again. We repeated our vacuuming and bucket brigade, but it was clear the water was continuing to rise.

Jeff sent a young, hardy helper who was able to locate the pipe, but it was frozen shut. Later they both arrived with a 200-foot hose to steam the clogged opening loose. It wasn’t long before the water was gushing. And my basement drained. Fans and a dehumidifier were strategically placed to facilitate more thorough drying.

I'm told this has been an unusual winter. Events layered to create the “perfect storm”. Frank had Jeff install the drain tile system so that he could remove the sump which was then capped with concrete. However, there are still 2 drains in the floor to catch overflows from cranky appliances like washers and water softeners. To make things worse, Frank had put the drain from the washer into one of those drains instead of having it hooked up properly to go to the line emptying into the septic tank. Washing clothes all winter did not help keep the drain tile pipe open. However, it also did not cause the plug-up. The pipe was buried by enough snow and ice; the weather was just warm enough during the day to melt things too fast, and the ground was cold enough at night to refreeze it all. It was just destined to be!

Nevertheless, plumbing the washer properly is on the priority list. A pipe extension, maybe a piece of metal covered with straw will be in place for next winter as well.

Just another great adventure for this old crone in the North Woods.

Did I mention that recruiting for the commune is on hold for a while?