Friday, March 11, 2011

the bottom

Rain, wind, melting snow and a 50-degree day have created nothing but trouble. I woke up to the sound of something like a shopping cart being dragged across my outer walls and when I went out to feed the sheep I discovered that the gales had ripped some siding off. It was partially attached, but flapping in the wind. Not a big section, but a section I couldn't nail back on myself. It was near the roof. I don't have a 20-foot ladder. I'm scared of heights. I'm also a klutz. Wonderful.

What started as a little water in the basement is quickly escalating to a stream turning into a pool. I have spent the entire evening running Shop-Vacs full of water up the basement stairs and pouring them outside down from the house. Every time I thought I had it cleaned up, I would return fifteen minutes later to see it even deeper and farther spread out. At this point I panicked and called a half-dozen friends: all of which had the same advice: call a plumber or buy a sump pump tomorrow at home depot. But I am worried the water will reach the furnace, an item I need and can not afford to replace, and so I am taking shifts all night to do what I can to control this. I did eventually find the source in the floor wall, and was able to plug it up a bit to slow it down by piling mounds of wet cat litter over it. I bought five bags at the IGA in town earlier and felt I had to explain why to the check-out 16-year-old that I didn't own a cat, I had water in my basement. The idea of a single woman buying cat litter on a Friday night was just too pathetic to go without rebuttal.

This is wearing me down. I'm hungry, exhausted, and worried. I'm not going to lie, around 8PM I just started crying. I was crying because I was worn down from other things, but also because I knew the rest of the night I would be cleaning the mess the mud made in the house, and taking constant heavy buckets up those stairs. It's part of owning your own house. It just is. I'm not breaking down because of the work. It's the fact that every goddamn lesson there is to learn about houses has happened this year to me: and I have no experience with any of it, and it's just me trying to doggy paddle through it all upriver.

This winter has been so draining on me. Now that it is finally coming to a close it's draining into my basement. This better be the bottom.

A kind neighbor who has a contracting business stopped on their way into town and fixed the siding. They are certainly getting a pie. It's little things like that, that keep me going.

So here's what I am going to do. I am going to clean up this house from the mud, clean up myself a bit, and make something to eat. Then I am going to do another round of hose and buckets. Then I am going to take a nap. Then I'll wake up to the alarm and repeat the whole process over and over. If I let it go those giant puddle will turn into an entire basement full of water.

How much do sump pumps cost? And do they handle shallow water?


Blogger Jennifer said...

Someone with knowledge is going to post in a minute, but I just wanted to say that you are doing a great job. This year sucks, but you are the best homeowner I have ever seen.

And I like you plan. It is a get-through-the-night plan, and that is what you need right now.

March 11, 2011 at 9:55 PM  
Blogger Erika said...

Hey there. I don't know you, but I have been enjoying your blog for a few weeks and it sounds like tonight you could use some encouragement. So don't worry. The work you are doing is good and noble and though it's overwhelming right now, the best things in life often are. I know--I am a single young woman trying to accomplish much of what you are already doing, and you are an inspiration to me. Keep up your spirit, and your wonderful writing, and know that there are strangers out here pulling for you. Sending all my goodwill,


P.S. A sump pump is definitely the way to go. The one I installed in my crawlspace has been cycling on and off the last few days as the latest rain storm worked through. The best way to use them is to actually sink them in a bucket (5 gal) dug into the floor (the bucket collects the water to a depth that the pump can suck out), but I don't know if your basement floor is amenable to that...

March 11, 2011 at 9:57 PM  
Blogger Justine said...

I am with you on the everything that could go wrong owning a new house did this winter my husband and I bought our first house in oct and we have had lots of issues too. We just bought a sump pump last week. They will work in shallow water you just have to rig them keep the floater up so it keeps sucking..... its kind of hard to explain... if you see the pump youll know what I mean... we bought a middle priced one at $120 and we hooked up the drain pipe right to the washer drain pipe till we can get a permanent set up in the spring... we were lucky because we already had a hole for our sump pump I am pretty sure you would need to make one and put it in there eventually beucase with old houses especially in new england they flood and its good just to have a permanent sump pump hooked up! Thats pretty much all I know about it hope I helped!

March 11, 2011 at 10:01 PM  
Blogger Casie said...

The basic sump pump itself is around $200. I'm sure the local hardware store will be very knowledgeable on what you would need to set it up and get one running. Pretty common problem in the spring. We have ours plugged in and running too.

March 11, 2011 at 10:03 PM  
Blogger CJ said...

Two thoughts: 1)Don't wait until the middle of the night to call your fire dept to come and pump out your cellar. But even if it is the night and your burner is in danger, call them. They have the equipment and the knowledge to make it an easy job as long as you call them before it's too late. Depending on what they have for equipment they may set up a pump for you and let it go all night. Then you can get your own tomorrow. I've been out pumping basements for people for the last week (days and nights) - we leave pumps all the time and pick them up the next day. Having coffee and a home baked pie ready for them would go a long way.

2)Short of calling your fire dept, do you have a garden hose or something similar that you could put down in the basement and leave the shop vac upstairs and pull the water up with the vac? It will make emptying the vac a little easier. You will need to make an air tight connection between the hose and vac, but with a little creativity it shouldn't be too difficult. If that's not possible maybe you can do it in reverse. Suck up the water down stairs, then reverse the hose on the shop vac and blow it through the hose up the stairs and out the door or at least down a drain.

Bottom line, don't risk losing your heat source, call the fire dept - you help pay for them with your taxes and firemen and firewomen love to help people, that's why they joined in the first place.

March 11, 2011 at 10:15 PM  
Blogger CJ said...

Scratch the blowing the water up the hose, not all shop vac's can force liquid out of their tanks. Sorry didn't think that one all the way through.

March 11, 2011 at 10:19 PM  
Blogger Clare said...

Would it not be helpful to shovel the snow away from your leak source, and create a ditch drain away from the house? Shovels. Beats carrying buckets, if it's a workable solution.

March 11, 2011 at 10:21 PM  
Blogger doglady said...

If the depth of water is threatening your furnace remove the motor and put it up. The rest of the equipment can take a little water. If the motor does get wet, put it in a warm oven and dry it out thoroughly before you try to run it.
A sump pump is designed to work in a sump or hole that lets it be lower than the floor. The water flows into the sump and the pump spews it out in the yard. I'm surprised the former owners didn't have one already installed.
My former house was very prone to flooding in a severe storm at high tide. It isn't any fun. I feel for you.

March 11, 2011 at 10:22 PM  
Blogger CJ said...

To make an air tight connection from the garden hose to the shop vac, I would take a bike inner tube or bigger and wrap it around the garden hose end enough times so that when you push the garden hose in the shop vac hose, it forms an air tight seal like a rubber stopper.

I always save inner tubes they make great patches in alot of situations. Piece of inner tube and a hose clamp or two (always keep a half dozen on hand) will seal a split water pipe for a night and give you a chance to get replacement parts. Used this one dozen of times - we have old water pipes so they are all starting to give way.

March 11, 2011 at 10:25 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

the water is coming in from about 8 feet underground, not from the side of the house. The water table is just so full right now liquid is trying to go anywhere. we had five feet of snow this time a month ago and now we are getting warm days and rain rain rain....its just a lot, more snow and water than the county has had since the previous home owners were here. They have no sump pump hole dug out.

I am debating calling the fire dept just to explain the situation.... maybe I need more help than I realize.

well, at least the floor is clean now. one thing done.

March 11, 2011 at 10:28 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

CJ, your advice is super helpful, but I don't have a hose, an innertube, clamps, a bike tube...any of that. I just have my 6-gallon shop vac and a cell phone.

March 11, 2011 at 10:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jenna, you are not the only one. Our house is almost a 150 years old and has a dungeon for a basement. My dad was almost in tears because we got almost 4 feet of water. A sump-pump would take care of shallow water pretty well, as far as I know.

As for encouragement, Jenna, you are doing pretty well in my opinion. My parents say that the first year of houseowning is the hardest.


March 11, 2011 at 10:34 PM  
Blogger Aila said...

Hang in there! I'm sending good vibes your way. I'm getting close to the 1-year anniversary in my new house and in the past year we have: replaced the entire heating and cooling system (which brought up the issue of asbestos in the attic that didn't turn up in our inspection), replaced various appliances, replaced two exterior doors, repaired a leak in the roof (and discovered the roof isn't going to last too much longer), had our house tented for termites, and addressed various other issues. It will get better, even if it will never be done. If you bought a new house you would be facing just as many repairs from shoddy workmanship or cheap materials! My dad keeps reminding me, if my house has made it this long it will probably be okay. Indulge in some decadent food, cuddle with your dogs, and try to get as much sleep as you can. And never feel bad about crying, it's a release of emotions... and it's better to get the feelings out than bottle them up! You are an amazingly strong person and I know you'll make it through this.

March 11, 2011 at 10:35 PM  
Blogger Katie said...

You are getting some good advice here. I just have to tell you, I needed a laugh tonight...and I got it! Your description of your "cat litter purchase" made me laugh. I can just picture it! Thanks :)

March 11, 2011 at 10:38 PM  
Blogger Katie said...

Also, I'm sending you good luck vibes. You will make it through this just as you do every other obstacle. Just remember you aren't alone.

March 11, 2011 at 10:41 PM  
Blogger Rosie said...

I have been dealing with the same issues and even worse over the years.
I dug a hole while on my belly reaching into my crawl space and made it below the grade of the dirt. The I installed a landscape box, a 5 gallon bucket will also work. I burnt holes in the box with a soldering iron so that subsurface water will also drain. I put the sump pump with an adapter on the end so a garden hose could be the drain and ran it to the down stairs shower. Then connected it to power and voile I was in business.
The pump will pump to a couple of inches in the bottom of the bucket.
If the water is leaking from the walls of the basement the walls can be water proofed, but that is expensive and another discussion. The sump pump is the best solution. If you can't dig in the basement then there are other possible solutions. If you want I would be happy to talk to you about this. I have 30 years of experience of dealing with this and just had another drainage contractor in here so it is fresh in my mind.

March 11, 2011 at 10:45 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

i did talk to the firemen on call, they said basically for a few inches of water: there is nothing they can do. They have big pumps for when your basement has 40 inches of water, but a few inches is sump pump territory and the local hardware store rents and sells them, but they aren't open till 7:30. So I will have to keep at what I am doing until then.

March 11, 2011 at 10:49 PM  
Blogger CJ said...

Sorry, I tried. Hose clamps and inner tubes are the duct tape of the plumbing world. "If you can't fix it with those, it's not broken".

Seriously, call the fire dept and let them do the worrying. It's not worth the hassle and you'll met some great people that will be very handy to know.

March 11, 2011 at 10:57 PM  
Blogger Rosie said...

You need to set the sump pump in the lowest part of the basement and grade the dirt floor to the hole you are going to dig for the sump pump. Sump pumps are for exactly what you are suffering through, high water tables. Be careful about where your plug in the pump, if needed get an electrician to put a junction box with a plug close, be careful with extension cords, water and electricity don't mix well.

Luckily it is Saturday tomorrow and you don't have to be in at work. This should be a fairly easy project with quick good results.

March 11, 2011 at 11:00 PM  
Blogger CJ said...

Any materials on hand to make a damn around the furnace so at least you don't have to shop vac it so often?

Old shower curtains, plastic, tarp, sand/dirt/compost that you could put in old grain bags?

March 11, 2011 at 11:04 PM  
Blogger CJ said...

Sorry to hear about the fire dept, we keep 5 or 6 100 gal/min sump pumps that we use for situations like this in our fire dept. Our town only has 700 or so people so maybe we're small enough that we can do this. I'm guessing it wouldn't be possible for larger towns.

March 11, 2011 at 11:09 PM  
Blogger Aila said...

I know money is tight, but is there any way you can call a plumber? I'm guessing that might be cheaper than replacing the furnace (although maybe it wouldn't be). If not, are there any friends close by that can spell you for a couple hours of sleep? Do you have sandbags that you can put around the furnace? Maybe a friend or neighbor has some that you can borrow? I don't know that much about flooding, my apologies if any of these questions or ideas are not helpful!

March 11, 2011 at 11:12 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

Jenna- I'm not taking the time to read what others have written, but it's beginning to become clear why the folks that sold your house did just that.

It sounds like what you need is some serious, reliable, professional help so that this never happens again. Get yourself a subscription to Angie's List; the last time I did it, it was $15 a month. You can also buy a year's sub, and that might be a very good value for you. I won't waste time telling you what Angie's List is; you'll see when you google it.

You need someone to divert the runoff from your property away from your house. This will probably require some grading and some buried drainage; you may be able to find someone who can tell you what to do and you can get work parties together; or you'll find someone wonderful to help you with this. I'm hoping for the best.

It sounds serious, and it sounds expensive, but in the long run, you won't have to worry about it again. Of the top of my head, I can't think of anything that will help you with this expense; maybe a loan and a roommate; I dunno.

In the meantime, I am praying for God to send you the right long and happy marriage so that you don't have to face this stuff alone anymore; strong shoulders are so much help in times such as these; I sure wish you had your own set.

Good luck, honey; my prayers are with you.

March 11, 2011 at 11:14 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

The other thing I can think of to do when the threat is gone, is to paint the interior of your entire basement with Drylock, by UGL, which is good for sealing water out of concrete. It might not help with the floor, however.

Still praying on those shoulders for you....

March 11, 2011 at 11:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jenna..can you post a good photo of the area where the water is coming into the basement and where it is building up. This might help someone give you a better suggestion on how to best fix your problem tomorrow.

March 11, 2011 at 11:31 PM  
Blogger Joleen said...

Hang in there Honey. I'm sorry. Things will be better.

March 12, 2011 at 12:04 AM  
Blogger jim said...

jenna. not sure of cost of sump pump-would guess around $100, Lowes or Home Depot-need to dig the hole in the floor and place the minimum 5 gal bucket in it so that the water can go in it. buy the sump pump that has a float that turns the pump on when the water in the bucket reaches a certain level and shuts off when it is pumped down. Call a couple of your male friends-couple hour job at most- give them a hug and a piece of pie-your life will be better tomorrow night.
run the discharge hose outside with a garden hose discharging away from the house. Be carefull to keep plugged end of electrical cord up out of waters way- this will work and fix your prob. this things can pump a lot of water in a very short time.

March 12, 2011 at 12:12 AM  
Blogger jim said...

jenna - just did some checking and i would buy my sump pump at Home Depot rather then lowes- Lowes customers are having a lot of trouble with pumps failing and Home Depot handles much better brands of pumps- Lowes getting a lot of bad reviews and you're looking for something that will last a long time and do the job correctly- luck Jim

March 12, 2011 at 12:27 AM  
Blogger Trestin said...

Just a brainstorming idea, but what if you borrowed enough hoses to setup a siphon from your basement to a point outside that is lower than your basement floor? Is there enough water, and a low enough point outside that this could drain appropriately?

March 12, 2011 at 12:28 AM  
Blogger Pam said...

Jenna -- is there anyway that you could suck on the garden hose (wrap your hand around the end outside your home) and get the water started coming out? It can be done, we've done it. I know it sounds gross but if you get it started it should keep going until you run out of water. Or try using the vac to get it started. You will need a window or stairs to run the hose outside then run it downhill to keep the flow ... darling if I lived closer we'd be there to help but I live west of your home here in Pa. We did this to empty the waterbeds and they ran as long as the water level stayed over the hose in the bed. You could put a brick or such to hold the hose down and in place. Water will travel up the hose if you have enough down slope on the outside ... praying for you girl ... don't get down, keep your chin up ... set your alarm for every two hours and get a little sleep ....

March 12, 2011 at 12:43 AM  
Blogger Jasmine said...


Creates great airtight solutions. If you don't have it on hand, buy a roll or three the next dozen times you're at the store. Every single woman should have some on hand, and I would think a farmer doubly or triply so ....

March 12, 2011 at 1:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No advice, but here's some (((((hugs))))) for you!

March 12, 2011 at 1:23 AM  
Blogger Gretchen said...

It must be about 1am there. I am sending you strong vibes of energy and persistence. You have what it takes to get through the night. That's it. You can do anything for a few more hours. We all wish we could help in some other way but I do believe in the power of group thought and that you can feel the energy from all those around you. All the best to you tonight!

March 12, 2011 at 1:24 AM  
Blogger Donna said...

I can feel your frustration and actually teared up just thinking of you crying in your frustration. I swear if I had the money I'd catch a plane tonight and come back and help you with this. I'm hoping you will call your buddies that helped you before to come help you I stall the sump pump. Hang in there my fellow Cancer, we may get frustrated and pissed but we never give up. My biggest hug for you my friend.

March 12, 2011 at 1:43 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

4:35AM just did another round... my back is killing me. setting alarm for hour and a half later....almost morning. furnace is okay so far.

March 12, 2011 at 4:36 AM  
Blogger Sylvia said...

No advice on the water -- we live on a high hill in Atlanta. But I am sending you some money and tons of cheerful, happy thoughts for the day ahead of you. If we lived there, I would send my handy husband and sons so this is the best I can do.

March 12, 2011 at 6:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hang in there. In a week or so you'll have lambs, and they'll make it all worth it.

March 12, 2011 at 6:40 AM  
Blogger Kelpie and Collie said...

You are having a lot happen all at once, but think about it- you will be prepared for anything now! Get a sump pump installed. That will make life much better.

March 12, 2011 at 6:43 AM  
Blogger Peacemom said...

Jenna, This happened to us last Monday, with that rain storm. We were up the whole night bailing and shop vac'ing (thank goodness for sump pumps and shop vacs!!). Currently, we have water coming up through the floor in the hole where the sump pump is, but it just pumps it out. We also have a leak where water is streaming out of the conduit for the well, the water table is forcing the water up the tube that houses the wiring into the basement...big bin catching that and shooting it out with the sump pump. It's under control now. I totally know how you feel, we just did what you've had to do, and have had to do with many of the houses we've lived in. New England winters don't love basements for sure. I know everyone else has already said sump pump, and it's the way to go, I concur. Good luck with the water table, I know it's frustrating as hell, my thoughts are with you. ~Vonnie, NH

March 12, 2011 at 6:59 AM  
Blogger Jeremy said...


I had this exact same problem in my home. I shop vac'd it for two winters/spring, and then last fall finally got a sump pump.

What I would suggest is as follows.

#1 Get a good sized sump pump, 1/4 or 1/3 HP with a float to turn it on and off automatically.

#2 If you have a dirt basement, dig a hole about 2-3 times bigger than a 5 gallon pail. Take a 5 gallon pail and drill it full of holes. Then line it with a small mesh hardware cloth (think window screen) to keep any large dirt or rocks from being sucked in and wreaking the pump.

#3 If you have a concrete floor you can still do this. I have a concrete floor and spent $50 to rent a hammer drill from "Taylor Rental" but any rental house will do. You drill holes in a 2-3" spacing pattern in a grid, then switch bits to the hammer chisel, and bust out the concrete. If you do this however, make damn sure you know where your water, sewer, and gas if applicable are, as you don't want to hit them.

#4 Get a sump pump check valve and 1-2 hoses (don't forget a coupler) and run them outside. Enjoy not bailing the basement all night (I sure did)

Here is what you need to remember. The weather pattern we have right now is wacky and has been for the last 5 years. People who never have wet basements have water now. So nothing is wrong with the house, it just needs to be dealt with. In the old days, the furnace just sat on blocks 12" above the floor. That's how my grandparents house was.

I have not read your blog in 3 weeks as my daughter was just born, sorry to see you troubles. Just look forward to those lambs!!!

March 12, 2011 at 7:00 AM  
Blogger svelteSTUFF said...

See... and our parents didn't think that those 'all-nighters' that we pulled in college were productive... they were just preparing us for 'the real world'!

Hoping everything is looking better for you in the daylight Jenna!

March 12, 2011 at 7:04 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Jeremy, congrats on your little girl!!

March 12, 2011 at 7:23 AM  
Blogger Carolyn West said...

A sump pump is definitely the way to go. As a fellow single girl and homeowner (well, not at the moment due to a move) I know how hard it is to handle everything by yourself especially a basement full of water. It's daunting and exhausting. Honestly, I'm glad I don't own my former house right now because I'm pretty sure that the basement has water in it. Hang in there though because once you get past this last hurdle I'll bet it all gets better.

March 12, 2011 at 7:37 AM  
Blogger Kevin and Beth said...

Don't know if this would work for you but it worked for me. I had a dehumidifier in the basement and got tired of hauling the water.

I did not have a lot of money so I got an inexpensive pump for a small garden pond, a long piece of clear tubing for fish tanks or whatever that fit the size of the pump and ran the tubing up and out a window. The little pump was strong enough to move the water up and out the window easily.

It wasn't fast but it moved the water and I didn't have to carry it so that worked for me. I had to watch it though because I had to make sure that it didn't run dry, it will ruin the pump I guess.

Oh and by the way, I had a man in the house at the time, an ex, but he didn't care about having a damp moldy basement so I came up with the best solution I could.

March 12, 2011 at 7:41 AM  
Blogger mdoe37 said...

OK I've actually jury rigged a sump pump -- I have two in my basement. The original behind me right now has a healthy trickle of water coming in a hole -- yes 8 feet below the ground. The other one, the water follows the well pipe in - 5-6 ft below the ground. I dug a hole about the size of a 5 gal bucket, put in a $50-60 submersible sump pump and ran the hose outside. Perfect no, but it does save my furnace and corn stove in that corner. (which remarkably also holds the well, pump, softener, water heater--and the idiot that put in the original sump put it at the exact and entire opposite of the basement)

Its really not an expensive fix -- just not an easy one in the middle of the night. If you have a septic tank -- you might not want to run all that water there. Borrow a sledge hammer if you have a concrete floor, a bag of cement to "seal up" the dirt hole.

I understand your pain fully regarding the house -- mine was built in 36. Eventually you get things patched back up and the emergencies are fewer and farther between. And I keep a large tool box full of PVC fittings and glue.

You might also want to talk to your friendly neighbors -- there must be a handy guy around, older retired, who likes to keep busy for a few bucks.

March 12, 2011 at 8:05 AM  
Blogger Georgia said...

It's a beautiful, sunny morning here on the eastern border of VT. I hope you managed to get some rest and have your problems solved today. Old houses certainly have their share of issues don't they? (We own a 150 year old cape.)

March 12, 2011 at 8:16 AM  
Blogger Wren said...

I completely understand the frustration of a flooded basement. Our house is a 111 year old Victorian, and when we bought it a couple of years ago, the basement (more like "root cellar") had a sump pump. Sadly, it was not long for this world, and of course went out during a major storm. We had about six inches of water covering the floor, and the power went out, and the fuse box is down there (along with our electric water heater)... Yeah. Not fun.

But we replaced it with one from Lowe's, and it's been great. I can't remember exactly how much we paid, but it was between $200 and $300. Best money ever spent, seriously. We also had the major storms the other day, and listening to that thing kick on through the floor is like magic. Best part, you can install them yourself. You just stick it down there in the lowest part of the basement (we have a small pit for it, which is really helpful), plug it in, and make sure the hose lets out away from the house.

Also, you can rent sump pumps that you can use an extension cord on and just toss into the wet, which you may need to do just to get the water out of there to work in. If you have a Rental Works where you live, check them out. I've had great experiences with them.

March 12, 2011 at 8:17 AM  
Blogger Kathy P. said...

I live in a low-lying area and have a sump pump in the basement that's coming on every 60 seconds right now. I speak from experience when I say that I don't think a sump pump is somthing you can (or should) install yourself. I admire your pluck and willingness to work hard, but you need somebody that knows what they're doing.

A sump pump needs to be put in the right place, in a hole, with PVC pipe or a hose routed up and out of the basement. You need to extend the outlet pipe so the water exits well outside the house. (Mine is about 20'.) You also need an electrical outlet nearby the "sump" (hole) to plug the thing in.

If I'm visualizing your property correctly from your descriptions and videos, your house sits in sort of a bowl, surrounded by raised ground. Meaning all this rain and melting snow is running downhill toward the house. You need an industrial strength pump.

There are two types of sump pumps: tall (pedestal) and submersibles. The submersibles come in higher HP and can pump out a larger volume faster (and to a higher exit point) than the pedestals. Pedestal-types are also prone to twisting in the hole from the torque as they go on/off and will eventually get off kilter - the float can get jammed against the side of the hole and your pump will either not come one or come on and not be able to turn off. Pay more, do it right the first time: get a submersible. (I am speaking from experience here.)

I would not call a garden variety plumber to do this. You need to look in the Yellow Pages for an outfit that offers 24 hour service, and specializes in things like drain cleaning, septic system cleaning, sump pumps, flooded basements, sewer and drain service, etc.

This will cost money but it will be much, much cheaper over the long run to have it done properly the first time. I hate to say it (cringing as I type this) but you may have to put it on the credit card. Do it. A new furnace will cost six times as much.

March 12, 2011 at 8:35 AM  
Blogger Poppy said...

What you need right now is a utility pump, 70-100 bucks. It sucks water off the floor and connects to a garden hose for the outlet. Get at least 1/4 HP, I've had to return anything less than that. The one I have sucks from at 1/2 inch or more down to 7/16 inch. After that then the shopvac. I've learned to pump out the shopvac rather than carrying up the stairs across the yard to empty. Not only easier but faster.

March 12, 2011 at 8:39 AM  
Blogger Eric said...

Hi Jenna. You have been talking about and been told to dig a sump and get a pump. If you go to home depot and get the pump you can put it in your shop vac and pump the water outside. You will still have to check on it and vacuum it but it will help save your back until you get a sump dug.

March 12, 2011 at 8:41 AM  
Blogger mdoe37 said...

Oh and one more thing. . . when you put in the sump pump (or whoever does) make absolutely sure that there is a disconnect (I used a rubber coupling/hose clamp thing - I can send a picture if needed.) Sump pumps fail and the worst thing is having to hacksaw a pipe off to remove a sump pump. (yup experience). My disconnects are where I can easily access them. Unscrew the clamps, pick the pipe and pump out of the hole, replace the pump. Yup, mine looks hokey, but a godsend when I need to replace.

(after I typed my last comment I walked past the sump I installed -- what a miserable, pathetic looking sight it is -- but is pumps water!)

March 12, 2011 at 8:44 AM  
Blogger Kris said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

March 12, 2011 at 9:01 AM  
Blogger Kris said...

I really think you need to get someone out there with a ditch digger and install a french drain system around your house. As soon as you can. That would solve alot of your problems. Then get the whole fixed where the water's coming in.

We have been flooding here from way too much rain. There is no where for all this water to go. It's going to take a few months to dry out here.

One good thing is my 1st time heifer had a nice healthy little bull calf early this morning! Mazie did it all the way we talked about too. What a cowgirl she is.

I so hope you don't hurt your back, Jenna. Be careful. I wish I could help you. You deserve a nice long massage after all this.

March 12, 2011 at 9:13 AM  
Blogger Chance said...

Jenna, I just put the money for your new sump pump et al on paypal. Paying it forward, someone else bought me one years ago in this exact same situation. Take care of this problem and put it behind you this weekend. I am waiting with bated breath for spring and lambs and your wonderful writing...

March 12, 2011 at 9:18 AM  
Blogger said...

Around here, all houses with basements have sump pumps... and since it's not common apparently in your area, this is probably not a coming thing... so, I would just get a decent little pump, like a fountain pump, and some aquarium tubing that fits it. Long enough to go out a basement window or something...

JUst run that little pump and you have it solved for under $50 max.

We have one to drain out old bathtub and it will push 50 gallons of water in oh, 20 minutes or so with a teeny little 3/4 inch tube. We bought the pump at the Harbor Freight Store but really, it's just a little submersible fountain pump and we paid $12 for it. They range in volume pumped, and for your basement, I'd get the largest they have or you could afford...

It would be a quick fix for now and you can assess the need for a more major fix. And you might the pump and hosing handy for other water tasks.

Would be simple, no digging, and easy to do.

Just a thought.

March 12, 2011 at 10:40 AM  
Blogger DJ said...

Chance, you're awesome!

March 12, 2011 at 10:49 AM  
Blogger Jeff Pierce said...

Hey Jenna,

Sorry your having such a mess with your basement. It will get better girl, promise! You're learing more now than what it takes everyone else a lifetime. Basically, (without knowing what your basement set up is and I'm guessing) a sump pump should fix your problem and would probably cost around $115 to $200. it depends on what size you need and the distance you have to pump. One way to remedy this with a smaller and cheaper pump is to plumb the water removal to your drains in the house (local code check here). Also, it soudns like the walls and floors need to be selaed better. DAMTITE (yeah that's the name) works great here in georgia basments and I've used it several times. When the snow thaws, do a landscape check. Where is the water draining near your house and foundation? Do you have gutters and are they draining away from the house? It sounds like the thawing snow around you is just pouring in somewhere. Wish I was there to take a look. It's fixable.

Take care

March 12, 2011 at 10:53 AM  
Blogger Nikki said...

Chance,I second DJ's comment.
Awesome indeed!

Thanks from all of us who read Jenna's blog and wish so hard we could help that it hurts.

March 12, 2011 at 11:12 AM  
Blogger Kathy P. said...

One more thing (also from experience): whatever permanent solution you come up with - do not, repeat, DO NOT, route the exit pipe to your septic tank or drywell. You haven't lived in this house very long so you don't really know the normal volumes of water your pump may have to handle. It wouldn't take much to overwhelm an underground tank. I had to have new drywell dug not long after I moved in here because the sump pump flooded it out. Needless to say, the sump pump doesn't go there anymore.

Figure 600 gallons of water from a 1 inch rainfall for every 1000 square feet of house footprint, draining off your eaves. Here in NY, we receive upwards of 40 inches of precip annually. Do the math; no septic tank can handle even a fraction of that, so don't send your sump pump water there.

Keep in mind also that with climate change, upstate New York is predicted to see an *increase* in precipitation, so you want a solution that will handle above-average scenarios.

With some strategic planning, the water can exit above ground and be gently guided to a natural drainage feature - via ditches or swales - that will take it away from the house.

Good luck and keep us posted!

March 12, 2011 at 11:23 AM  
Blogger Katie said...

Three cheers for Chance!

March 12, 2011 at 11:27 AM  
Blogger Chance said...

Hey, I'm just paying it forward, repaying an old sump pump debt. But also, I have many people in my life who inspire me, but only one who inspires me on a daily basis, to be more self-reliant, to have more courage, to risk, to be a better writer, to be passionate and full of life. Getting Jenna a sump pump and a plumber is nothing compared to the gifts she gives me...thanks Jenna.

March 12, 2011 at 12:10 PM  
Blogger Kathy P. said...

Chance, you are a gem!

March 12, 2011 at 12:20 PM  
Blogger Jill said...

What Katie said. Bless you, Chance.

March 12, 2011 at 12:21 PM  
Blogger Kate said...

Hi Jenna, I am a new reader but am captivated by what you are doing. In the three homes my husband and I have owned we have had water in every basement and crawl space. When you solve this you can at least know that your pump will whir to life when it needs to. If you can get the pump sunk into the floor it will pump the water out before it ever pools. Even if you have to get someone else to do this for you after the current crisis it's well worth it. I hope this is your bottom and that spring comes with life, lambs, flowers and a sump pump that humms you into a peaceful-no water to worry about- sleep.

March 12, 2011 at 12:24 PM  
Blogger John Taylor said...


I have a sump pump with a float on it you can use until you get past this "wet" season. You will need to puchase a hose clamp and roll up pool hose that is light blue and lays flat when no water is going through it. You need hose long enough to get it to the outside. I can mail it Fed Ex to you if you would like. This pump will pump down a 5000 gallon swimming pool in a 1/2 hour. Email me if I can help.

Grace and Peace

March 12, 2011 at 12:29 PM  
Blogger Rosie said...

You are awesome Chance!

March 12, 2011 at 12:29 PM  
Blogger georgie said...

Jenna, my mother was 65 when she put a sump pump in at her home. The pump manufacturer gave her good advice over the phone. She did have someone dig the ditch to install the pump first.
I've had basement flooding experience here too, percolating up from the underground stream; baling water out of a muddy/flooding window well all night years ago. Hope everyone else's advice is of help and you get the flooding/drainage fixed today.

March 12, 2011 at 12:34 PM  
Blogger Flartus said...

Jenna, you are amazing (even though you probably don't feel amazing today--hope you get some rest). Good work on your part keeping it together through the night. Hey, at least this didn't happen in the middle of lambing, eh??

But even more important...look at all the goodwill you've gathered on this blog! Kudos to Chance, too. Very nice gesture.

Hugs and a virtual backrub to you, Jenna!

March 12, 2011 at 12:44 PM  
Blogger Kira said...

Wow! I just had a very early morning start only to be disappointed by another human being. Feeling reassured in my general tendancy towards misanthropy I returned home to start my weekend chores. Before beginning those chores I thought I'd check my emails and see what's going on on the few blogs I read and happened across Chance's generosity! This certainly couldn't have come at a better time for Jenna, but, Chance, your kindness and good nature couldn't have come at a better time for me too! You helped me restore a little faith! Thanks! And, Jenna, feel proud that your blog is reaching more people in more ways than you could ever imagine.

March 12, 2011 at 1:04 PM  
Blogger Katharyn said...

You've been nominated for a Stylish Blogger Award at While the Tea is Steeping

March 12, 2011 at 1:45 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Oh my god, Chance! Do you know that this morning when I was riding down with my rescuers to Bennington to buy the sump pump, my heart was in my throat worrying about the fact I just mailed my mortgage in. Now, I come home after we installed it.... (had a lot of friends with experience help) and knowing that your donation will cover it means no negative funds!

Thank you all! And thank you to windwoman farm who dropped off hoses and a small pump this morning!!!

March 12, 2011 at 1:52 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

I hope this gets you all fixed up. Chance, you are a wonderful human being and you've inspired me to be a better personn today.

When my basement flooded due to a blown waste pipe only 3 months into my home ownership, a co-worker lent me one of those flat utility pumps. I attached 2 garden hoses to it and ran it out the basement window and to the far side of the back yard. Where I fertilized the weeds tremendously.

You've done everything you can now that the sump pump's going in.This winter has sucked, beginner homeownership generally sucks as well, while the house is busy showing you who's boss. You're under water right now, literally and emotionally, but it WILL get better. And once things dry out, you can go back to looking forward to those lambs.

March 12, 2011 at 2:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

John, your offer was awesome! Keep him in mind Jenna and hang in there.

March 12, 2011 at 5:19 PM  
Blogger Pam said...

Priceless Chance ... absolutely priceless ...

March 12, 2011 at 6:22 PM  
Blogger jill said...

Sylvia & Chance - thanks for sending Jenna $$$. I wish I could help in that way but just am not in a position to do so right now. She is lucky to have guardian angels looking out for her! Hang in there, Jenna!

March 12, 2011 at 8:39 PM  
Blogger Irma said...

Our garage ceiling collapsed from the ice and rain a few days ago. It was 2:30 in the morning, and although I had never heard a sound like that in my life? I knew exactly what it was.

We are now facing $15,000 in repairs, a number so large I don;t even understand it. Sometimes owning your own home sucks.

But on the other hand, owning my own home menas I can choose whether or not to rebuild, I can choose to do something totally different if I wat.

Umm....yeah, that was lame, I'm just trying to make myself feel better...

March 13, 2011 at 11:29 PM  
Blogger Irma said...

PS. I want to marry Chance when I grow up.

March 13, 2011 at 11:33 PM  

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