Basement Watchdogs and sump pumps in window wells

The old sump pump in the window well

Basement Watchdogs and sump pumps in window wells

I have lived in my old farm house since 1994. Granted, I didn’t always live in my house by myself. I’ve only lived on my own for the last six or seven years, but who’s counting, right? In all these years, the general consensus has been that my house will never flood. I live on a hill (yes, Kansas has hills … sort of), and the house is very solid.

Well, whoever that “general consensus” was, they were wrong. Because very early this morning (3:30 am to be specific), Haven had a record-breaking rainstorm. We’re talking intense amounts of rain. And since the poor old house hasn’t been repaired from the major damage from the last big storm out here a few weeks ago, that only added to the trouble.

I knew the storms were coming, so just because I tend to be paranoid at this time of year, I slept in the basement. And it’s a really good thing that I did because I woke up at 3:30 am, listening to a peculiar dripping sound. Does anyone else do that? I have a catalog of sounds in my head, and if I ever hear anything in my house that doesn’t fit into that catalog of sounds, I go check it out. Maybe it’s because I live alone. I don’t know. But I heard this dripping.

In the last big storm, my daylight window had leaked a little. Nothing a towel or two couldn’t take care of. So I rolled off the couch and went to go check the daylight window. There was nothing. So I went back to the couch and tried to sleep, but I kept hearing something drip. So I got up again and turned all the lights on, and I found it: a window well my dad had fixed months ago had decided to start leaking again. The puddle was only about the size of a dinner plate. No big deal. My basement has no carpet. It’s all cement. And I don’t have anything important or expensive sitting on the floor. So I got a towel and put it down.

But it didn’t stop.

And the rain kept coming down harder and harder. The one towel couldn’t contain the water. So I added another and another and another. By 4:30 am I was completely out of towels, and water was still coming in at a pace I had no chance of keeping up with, even if I had more towels! And that’s when the other leak started.

When water gets trapped up against the east foundation, it comes into our old cellar through an old hole in the cement wall. I don’t remember why it’s there, but it practically pours into the cellar. Fortunately, we had just installed a new sump pump–the amazing, incredible Basement Watchdog–and it was taking care of that.

By this time, I did what any other self-sufficient, independent, 21st Century working woman in my situation would do: I called my dad. My awesome dad, who lives 45 miles away in Wichita, packed up his stuff and came flying out to the farm in hopes of helping me stem the raging tides. He made it here in about an hour, and in that time I received word that the Reno County Emergency Manager had issued a statement urging people to stay out of Haven because of the extreme flooding.

So I felt better that I wasn’t just making it all up.

By 5:30, Dad arrived at the house, and we started working to get the water cleared up. But water was still flowing from the window well, and any progress we made was hindered by the fact that we couldn’t get the water to stop. So, my dad came up with a brilliant (albeit red-necky) plan.

The old sump pump in the window well

The old sump pump in the window well

He put the old sump pump in the window well. The old sump pump is perfectly fine. It just doesn’t have a battery backup anymore. So, yes, this is a photograph of the old sump pump in the window well. Seriously, I haven’t felt like this much of a redneck in a long time.

The old sump pump in the window well

The old sump pump in the window well

But it worked! And we managed to get most of the water mopped up by 7:30. And that’s when we realized that the new sump pump–the amazing, incredible, awe-inspiring Basement Watchdog–was running on its battery backup instead of on the house’s power supply. And, what’s more, it was running the backup pump and not the main pump–for no apparent reason. So Dad and I spent the next two hours trying to figure out what was wrong with the Basement Watchdog. We couldn’t figure it out, and he had to get back to Wichita.

So we got it to the point where the battery backup would work consistently (so we thought), and he headed back into Wichita, while I obtained permission from my awesome supervisor to work remotely, since the Gar Creek had overflowed its banks and wasn’t really letting anyone get to the highway. Dad made it but called me to warn me.

So I spent the day working at home, but it wasn’t too long before I noticed that I didn’t hear the Basement Watchdog doing it’s Basement Watchdog thing. So I went down to check on it, and it wasn’t pumping. At all. So I grabbed a flashlight and fiddled around with it until it kicked on again. So I’ve spent the whole day manually resetting the stupid, rapid, disagreeable Basement Watchdog because I don’t trust it not to flood my basement for real.

I told Dad about it and he decided to come out tonight to look at it. So we’re going to go back down to the cellar and fiddle around with the thing until we get it to work again.

All in all, it’s been a very eventful day, and I have to say I’ve learned a lot in the last 15 hours or so.

  • Like how to use a shop vac to suck up water off a cement floor.
  • Like how to use a sump pump as a means to get water out of a window well.
  • Like just how much water can come in through a window well you’ve sealed shut so that it can’t even be opened.
  • Like how awesome it is to have a Dad who comes running when I ask for help. =)

And I also learned that if a sump pump is called a Basement Watchdog, you can’t trust it.

  • Too much of a good thing? | AlwaysPeachy
    May 31st, 2013 at 6:42 am

    […] you that I have a fantastic conclusion to this journey. But I don’t. And the last few days of basement floods and storms have sapped most of my strength and focus this morning, which means I’m probably going to […]

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  • avatar image
    Pat/Mom
    May 31st, 2013 at 9:40 am

    Haha! Life sure happens a lot at the farm, doesn’t it! 🙂 Good job of flood management! You’re hired!

    Reply
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    June 1st, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    […] the flooding in my basement is finally under control (at least for now) and the laundry is under way and the dishes are done, I think I have time to […]

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    July 26th, 2014 at 10:01 am

    […] The first time it happened, Dad and I came up with some redneck solutions to get it to stop until we could fix it properly. We managed to get the window well to stop, and then we hired some people to fix the other leak. […]

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