Monday, August 8, 2016

The Tale of The Water Pump

Today boys and girls we are going to talk about what happens when a water pump goes bunk. But where to begin?! I will not regale you will long winded words about being awoke by a strange sound at 6 a.m., or how I got up and rushed around the house trying to figure out where it came from. In fact, I will also not regale you in detail with the tale of my nasty snail hunt at 7 a.m. when I got up, because I couldn't sleep due to the funny sound waking me earlier. I just proceeded on my usual morning walk about the place, only to spy that snails had arisen in the night and were over-running us. Suffice to say my hunt was a success and I filled to bulging a gallon zip-lock bag of them. I stopped counting after 30.
It was in fact this early morning excursion that made me first aware of the adventure that would be my day. It happened on this wise: My perambulating of the yard in search of snails happened to lead me in the proximity of the pump house. A loud hissing sound strengthened as I drew near and I pondered in my mind what it could be? Water pumps are not air compressors, so any hissing sound was not a good omen. I looked at the pump-house and saw water streaming out the eaves and out from under the walls. I opened the door and water was spraying in a jet to the ceiling from the pump. My first thought was oh brother, it has blown a gasket!!!
Here is our pump-house looking so beautiful, complete with a bunch of blooming flowers.
Here is a side view I give you so that you can see its wonderful size. (sarcasm!) The pump-house is 7'3 wide x 4' 3" deep x 5' 3" tall at the front but sloping to 5' at the back. Needless to say a Hobbit would find it snug.
Isn't this a lovely view of the doorway?! It stands at just 4' 3" and yours truly cracked her skull on the top of it three times, as I simply didn't duck quite far enough to enter. I wasn't able to get a pic of the blowing water without getting my camera wet, but you can imagine 2 inches of water on the floor and the entire insides being hosed.
Upon seeing the place engulfed in water, I ran into the house and sought for the switch to turn off the power. Finding them was like looking for codes to your fire-safe. The first switch was 10 down on the left and the pump switch was 2 down on the right. What kind of goof ball doesn't place those two switches close to each other?! Once the power was off, I gave a call to my husband hoping to find out from him the name of a good plumber or where to get help. He was not available, but I got to listen to his nice voicemail. This would not seem so bad but he has gone for his two months visit to the Mainland, so Andrew and I are holding the fort here on Hawaii's Whole Acre. Next I called our friend Ricky who is a grand source for all kinds of help. I did get him, but he was miles out on the ocean, deep sea fishing, which later that night they came in with 2,500 pounds of fish. Woo! Hoo! Needless to say I was feeling a bit panicky by this point as to what to do next?! At this point I woke up Andrew, who leaped right up and came out to access the damage. Much to our relief the pump had not blown up it was, "just a water hose." (Famous last words!!!)
Andrew quickly went into the pump-house and began turning off all of the valves. The yellow handles are the two to our UV light . While he did that I thought to call our next door neighbor Mark, who came right over with his wife Carrie.
 In the far corner, with the blue handle you can just see the main valve to the tank. This stupid thing would not shut and we were afraid to twist it too hard for fear it would break. Here in front are the two main filters.
 Here are the contents of those two blue filters, one is charcoal and the other a string, they do a great job at filtering.
I tried to get a picture of Andrew working but it was so cramped I couldn't get any good ones. He spent hours crouching and kneeling on the hard cement floor. We took turns working and getting back outside because it was so hot and muggy, you liked to drown in your own sweat. I have known sauna's that were cooler.
When we found the split hose, which was the black one you see here, we thought we were home free. The hose was long enough to just clip off and shove back on. Not an easy task but doable. As you can see here this looks pretty good after Andrew got it all back together. Oh for blighted hopes!!! We had no sooner put it all back together and started up the system, when I noticed that now the pump was leaking from the release valve. This meant shutting the system down again and taking it all apart, and removing the valve.
If you take a close look at that hose near the center of the picture, and where it ends on your right, you will see what looks like some type of plug. This is a brass release valve, it has this little screw-in hose-end stuck in its side which holds the hose in place.
Here is what that little part looks like up close. Whoever put this pump together did not use the proper size of this little hose-end. When Andrew attempted to unscrew the valve so that we could put pipe-tape on its threads, it wouldn't turn full circle to the left and hit the pipe coming out of the top of the pump. When I attempted to remove it, the whole thing fell out of the pump into my hand. I was mortified and thought I had broken the pump, but upon closer inspection we found the valve had been glued in the hole with apoxy. At this point I was hot, angry, and tired, and I just wanted to scream. To top it off the black hose had split again rendering it useless. This meant a trip into Hilo to Home Depot for more hose and hopefully a new brass fitting. It all began to feel like a freaking nightmare. This now had taken the better part of the day and our neighbor Mark, and his wife, had gone home.
Before he left he showed us how to remove the cap from this small pipe to take the pressure off the pump. He also instructed us in filling it again, so as to prime the pump before starting up the system. Something I would have thought of myself if I hadn't been so stressed out at this point. I was hot and sweaty and I already had three goose eggs on my head from the doggone door, and poor Andrew wasn't feeling any better, but off to town we went with high hopes of success.
A quick trip there rendered no new fitting, but we did find new hose. I decided an alteration was in order so taking the valve into the garage I put it in the vice and cut 1/4" off the stupid hose-end tip. I cleaned the apoxy off the threads, wrapped them in pipe tape, put the rubber gasket back on, and gave the whole business to Andrew to reassemble.
He put it all back together and it truly was beastly, because the tubing was stiff and the interior opening just slightly too small. I went inside and boiled some water and brought it to him in a pan and he soaked those stubborn tube ends for a few minutes and they finally went on. This was getting on to 6 p.m. and we had been at it all day, but we finally licked it. When we checked on it this morning it was dry and running smoothly. Praise be!
Doesn't this shot make it look nice and roomy?! Well believe me it isn't, and what kind of ding-a-ling puts the pressure tank tight to the wall and the same with the pump?! Can you see the flinky screws holding the pump in place? The whole set up makes me crazy.

Here you can see just how tight a fit it is. So tight I couldn't get my toes out of the shot and my head is leaned over between the studs. Working on this was some kind of nightmare and one of the worst pump-houses I have ever had the misfortune to be stuck in. So let this be a lesson. If you ever have to build a pump-house, build it so you can get at everything comfortably from all sides, and mount your pump higher off the floor. 'Cause even if you can't work on a pump yourself, your plumber will thank you , and maybe you won't die of sticker shock when you get his bill.

Total cost of supplies: Tubing at $2.98. Our sweat equity and Andrews calm approach and mechanical skills: Priceless!

P.S. My husbands timing, which is always perfect, had him returning my call just as we had the whole darn thing fixed. Wouldn't ya know?!!! Ha Ha Ha

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