Singing the sump pump blues

If I learned nothing else from my friends who fought the Red River in Moorhead, it’s this: during flooding, the enemy is inside your home.

Judging by the crowd in two separate hardware stores’ sump-pump sections this afternoon, I wasn’t alone in fighting the beast: the burned-out sump pump.

I was minutes away from packing up and heading into the cubicle farm today when I heard it: the unmistakable sound of a sump pump going toes up. It was a good partner for the last few years, operating without complaint although I had a feeling overnight when it switched on regularly that it was pleading, “how much longer do you expect me to keep doing this?”

In the land of finished basements, you don’t have a lot of time to act when the sump pump goes. Once the water hits the top of the sump basin, you’ve only got a few minutes before the water table and the basement get acquainted and you learn your homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flooding.

For an hour, I bailed, using the dog’s water dish, until I made enough headway to race to the store to buy a replacement (lesson: Always have a spare sump pump on hand), and plumb it in. The joints are leaky — you can’t solder wet, cold pipes very well — but should hold until spring begins to behave more rationally.

Two inches of rain fell yesterday and it feels like almost as much fell today. That’ll put a smile on the owner of the hardware store.

This doesn’t happen when it’s -25.

Related: My sump pump’s on the fritz, but I don’t need to tell you (Albany Times Union).

  • kcmarshall

    I saw your tweet about your sump pump last night. That’s when I realized that you are the Dad from A Christmas Story, battling your basement nemesis.

  • Mitch

    I was laying awake at 2AM listening to my pump run and thinking the same thing. If that sucker goes TU, I’m probably right behind it. My wife can be unforgiving…

  • Gary F

    As outside is starting to melt, say Feb, or March, I make the annual task of taking the cover off the sump pump, checking to make the sure GFI outlet isn’t tripped, and throwing a five gallon pail of water down the sump to see if the ol’ boy still pumps.

    It works.

    Also, with most homeowners insurance policies, you can pay about $20 a year for sump pump insurance. So it the power goes out or the pump fails, you are covered for flood damage.

  • John Peschken

    My mother learned last spring that a sump pump is only as reliable as your power, and she lost power for a couple of days last spring in Golden Valley. She was insured, but what a hassle. I’m in the middle of installing a battery powered backup pump for her. It will also do the job if your main pump just plain fails.

  • Jim G

    Sump pumps are the bane of every homeowner. My soggy sump pump
    saga occurred on the day we were leaving for a long weekend to the North Shore.
    As I stepped into the laundry-room to fetch clean duds, my socks instantly
    soaked up their maximum capacity of cold water. Thinking on my cold, wet feet, I remembered an old pump rescued from a backyard water feature…now filled in. I splashed to the garage and grabbed the pump and a left over section of sump hose. The pump still worked! I temporarily duct-taped the hose to the old pump and fed it out a window. While I was doing this, my wife called one of those “I need a
    plumber…NOW” services. They showed up and we ended up buying one of their
    pricey sump pumps with a dual float and a 2-year warranty. We then set up two dehumidifiers and a multitude of fans. Leaving instructions with the son, we left for our weekend in late afternoon missing only a relaxed drive with stops at favorite haunts. The warranty expires this June.