Sunday, October 30, 2011

'Til the washing of the water makes it all all right. Let your waters reach me like she reached me tonight (a.k.a. Well Done Broke Part 4)

The morning had been going so well. The wife and I had been out to breakfast, then dropped by Lowes where she was able to find several dozen closeout special perennials for, like, a dollar. We went back home where she planted them while I walked the dogs. When I returned, she said she was about to hop in the shower and asked me to "water in" those plants. Sure, our rain barrels were full (hey, it did finally rain a bit) and I probably should have used that water to do it. But that takes forever and involves having to haul water from the other end of the house in a watering can. Instead, I opted to use the water hose.

I unwound half of it from the hose wheel then went into the garage to turn it on. It didn't really start up to much more than a trickle, though. From what I could see, the hose didn't look like it was filling up very well. In fact, it looked sort of kinked, so I unwound the rest of it to fix that. Soon enough water was pouring out at a nice clip. I watered in the plants then dropped the hose in the yard and went back into the garage to turn it off. As I emerged from the garage, though, my wife came out of the back door and announced, "Well, we seem to be out of water." I was baffled, because it had only just been pouring nicely for me. How could we be out? But sure enough when I turned on the kitchen sink tap there was only a drip.

The options for what had happened seemed limited. Either we were out of water (bad enough, but it would return) or the pump had somehow lost power (also not great, but possibly an easy fix) or the pressure tank had finally given up the ghost as Dave had predicted it might (another not great, as the pump might burn up if we didn't cut the power but still not as expensive a fix as...) or the pump had failed entirely and was dead (beau coup expensive). I opted for turning off the power and hoping it was just the well that was out of water. We had to leave for the afternoon anyway, so we could give it a few hours.

But one thing the wife and I were in agreement over was that we probably needed to proceed with the reserve tank project, since we were still a year out from city water and apparently were continuing to have problems holding enough in the well. Also, Thanksgiving is on its way and once again we're scheduled to have a house full of people. Last year, we did run out of water. While we were out, I called and left a message on Dave's voicemail explaining the situation and our plan for the tank install.

When we returned, a few hours later, I turned the power back on and we checked the tap. There was still no water. I went into the crawl space to see if there was a reset button on either the pressure tank or the pump's new powerbox, but didn't see one. So I turned off the power again and called Dave to leave another voicemail about the trouble not seeming to be due to the well being dry.

We gathered up our usual emergency containers and headed out to fill up from the Culligan machine. Then we filled buckets from the rain barrels for toilet flushing. Fortunately, the wife grew up in a series of plumbingless cabins in Alaska, so she knows from having to work without running water. Soon she'd heated water on the stove for cat-bath wipedowns.

Didn't hear back from Dave. For all I knew, he was on vacation and I know him to be a good guy, so I wasn't put out that he'd not called back. He's not precisely local anyway, being based an hour away and our previous visits from him were because the local office didn't have anyone to spare. But the well company knew me by name and said they'd see about getting someone to me as quick as they could, but it might be a day as they were all scheduled up. They'd have someone call me by the end of the day.

By 2 p.m., the wife and I were getting snippy. Mm. Okay, mostly it was me. I'd been pissed off all morning at our situation and the hovering likelihood of a huge expense to replace the pump, so everything was setting me off. Most of it was my fault, like knocking a coffee cup into the sink and chipping a dish. But other things were not completely on me. A couple of days before, we'd seen mice poops and an actual live mouse in the crawlspace, so the wife had said she wanted to put traps in the crawlspace. This was perfectly sensible. What wasn't, in my estimation, was her choice to put mousetraps just inside the crawlspace door, on the lip of the concrete of the crawlspace's door, right in the way where a person would be unable to get into the space without either having to move the traps or setting them off. As I saw her doing this, I advised her not to, since we had every reason to believe we would soon need to go down there as would the well repair guys. She declined to take my advice, though, and left them there anyway in the hope of catching a mouse. So later, when I went down to check the pump again, I had to move the traps and one of them snapped in the process, flinging stinky rotten mozzarella everywhere. I cursed VERY loudly and stomped my feet on the concrete floor in fury. I then put the snapped and unsnapped traps on a nearby table saw surface and tried to calm down.

"You're so easily irritated today," the wife complained after I emerged.

"Yeah! I am!" I said. The morning had been a series of things getting more and more EFFed up and I was sick of it. I was also sick of having no ability to take a proper shower. We both felt greasy and awful. And our hair, which was still cowlicked and bed-headed, was a sight. I don't tend to be a happy camper when I'm in such a state and knew that a wet rag bath just wouldn't cut it.

"You know," I said, "we could go take showers at the gym."

The wife agreed this was a great idea so we set about to make it happen. I forwarded the house phone to my cell phone so I wouldn't miss the call from the well guys. Even as I did, though, I realized that the one sure fire way to get the well company to call me back quickly would be to get into a shower. It's already happened once this week, with the wife choosing to call and respond to a series of text questions I'd sent her only after three hours had passed and I'd given up on waiting and stepped into the shower.

The shower at the gym was amazing. Just full bore hot water pressurized enough to nearly hurt. I was enjoying it immensely, but then had to pause because my phone had begun to ring from my pants pocket, deep withing the backpack I'd hung on the towel hook. Sure enough, it was Mark the well guy. We made an appointment for the next morning.

That evening, Dave called. I told him what the current status was and he said it sounded grim. He was still hopeful that it was something small, though. He asked if I'd hit the reset button on the pump's power box. Oh, so there was a reset button. I took the walky phone, turned the breaker for the pump back on and crawled under the house to check, passing by the two mouse traps the wife had set, one of which was still live, and the third one I'd put in the crawl space, which was live and empty. Sure enough, there were two buttons on the bottom of the power box, hidden in a recessed area. Dave asked me to press them one at a time.

Nothing happened.

"Did you hear a click?" he said.


I pressed them again. Still nothing.

"And no click?" he asked.


"Ohhhhhhhh," he said. Dave said this did not sound like a good thing. He still hoped it was something minor, but it was sounding kind of like either the powerbox or the pump might have gone bad. Fortunately, he said that Mark, the guy who was coming out, was a good man who knew his stuff. I'd be in good hands.

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