Graywater saga – part 10

In fact, although none of the breakers were tripped [Note to all grammatically correct relatives:  I am not sure if that should have been “were tripped,” or “was tripped.”  I always struggle with “lay” and “lie,” too, to the point that I go to great lengths to choose wordings that avoid them words; but I couldn’t figure out how to avoid the “were tripped/was tripped” conundrum.],  only about half of them were labeled.  Sigh.  Bob and I studied the situation for several minutes.  We could tell which one went to the air conditioner, and the well pump was labeled.  A few others had names, and Bob was able to deduce by process of elimination which one went to the dryer.  You would think that after living in a house for fifteen years – and actually paying it OFF – a person would at least have the presence of mind to label his breakers.  Sheesh.  I’d do it, but the only way I can figure out to do it would be to start turning them off and then wandering around the house trying to discern what wasn’t working.  Not very efficient it you ask me – which may be why nobody has done it yet!

So after Bob confirmed that everything was set and not tripped, we decided that there was no way to know how to turn off the power to the (supposed) pump down in the murky depths of tank #2.  I was also starting to wonder about the whole deal of electrical lines running under water.  It seems like in about 4th grade we were taught something about not mixing those two. . .

Back out in the heat and stench, we announced that no breakers were tripped and that I didn’t know how to turn off the power to the pump.  Mr. R&H and Bob began discussing the matter.  Maybe the reason we couldn’t find a breaker for the gray water pump in the breaker box was that the pump didn’t get its power from that breaker box.  Maybe it got its power from somewhere else.  Hmmm. . . ?

Mr. R&H asked me where else we had power.  As usual, I had no idea.  I told him that there had to be power to the well house to pump our water up out of the ground, but I wasn’t really sure where that power came from.  There was that breaker in the laundry room labeled “well pump,” so I guessed that there must be an electrical line that went from there out to the well house.  There are overhead lines that go out to the well house (and get in the way when the big guys play kickball), so that must be how the power gets out there.

I was thinking all this out loud, of course, and I told Mr. R&H that I couldn’t remember any power lines being run from the well house back to this part of the yard when the Friendly Plumbing bozos put in the tank and leach line.  I mean, they would have had to dig yet another trench all the way across the middle of the back yard to do that, and I didn’t think that had happened.  Mr. R&H then asked where else they might have gotten power, if not from the house and not from the well house.  Did any of the other buildings – and we do have quite the assortment of buildings; much like our assortment of vehicles – have power?

Well. . . I had to think again, and it was really hot, and my brain was pretty fried. . . no. . . well, the shop had power, but it was back by the well house.  The lawn building didn’t have any power.  The “garage” didn’t have power. The smokehouse. . . hey wait!  The smokehouse had lights.  In fact, it had the old single incandescent bulb that had hung from the ceiling since dirt, AND it had a nice new fluorescent fixture that Scott had hung up for me about a year ago when I took over the smokehouse as my “garden shed.”  Hot dog!  Maybe the smokehouse was where they got power for the pump!

Bob bent down closer to the stench and said, “Look.  This wire that comes up out of the tank goes straight into the ground right here.  Maybe it runs over to the smokehouse.”  Mr. R&H stayed there with YMA, peering anxiously down and seeking evidence of a pump, while Bob and I walked over to the smokehouse.

Just inside the door, mounted on the wall, what do you think we found?  A breaker box!  With two breakers inside!  (unlabeled, of course) And just to the right of the breaker box was an outlet with two receptacles.  One had my fluorescent lamp plugged into it, but the other was empty.  In fact, there was a flat, gray cord propped up near it, but not plugged in.

Bob took one look at that cord and said, “Hey! Maybe this is the power to the pump!  And he grabbed it and plugged it in, and got a fantastic blue spark of a shock, enough to chip the side off the switch plate and send him staggering backwards!    Considering what he could have said, it was remarkable that all he said was, “There’s a short in that line.”

I asked if he was okay and he said he was, that he’d been shocked before.  That blue spark had been about six inches long, though.  It was a sight to see.  Bob left the gray cord unplugged, turned off the breakers in that box, went back out, and told Mr. R&H, “I think we found the power for that pump.”  Pointing to the ground beside tank #2, he said, “See that wire?  It’s really dirty, but it’s that same gray wire as in the smokehouse.  There must’ve been some problem, and somebody unplugged the pump.”

His analysis was superb, but I thought Bob was wrong.  I was pretty sure that what had happened was that a year ago, when My Hero was installing my fluorescent garden shed light, someone had unplugged something when he was testing it out (not knowing it was the gray water pump), and we just forgot to plug it back in.  Maybe what had happened was that the pump had just been unplugged for a year, so that when tank #1’s water overflowed into tank #2, instead of being pumped out the leach line, it just sat there, until tank #2 filled up.  At that point, my morning’s washing machine spin cycle was the straw that broke the camel’s back, and it all erupted out the top of the tank.

Now, the three overriding questions in my mind were, (1) “Did our stupidity ruin the pump and/or the leach line – and what would it cost to repair or replace either or both?  (2) Had God perhaps had mercy on us and protected us from either or both of those disasters?  (3) WHY did these types of things have to happen when husbands were gone?!?!?

YMA announced that, although he had initially told me that we had a 1000 gallon gray water tank, he now realized that it was actually a 1500 gallon tank (divided into two 750 gallon sides), and since it was bigger than anticipated, there would be an additional charge.  I had been quoted $150 to pump out a 1000 gallon tank, but because the cost was based on the amount pumped, I would have to pay more.  Did I realize that?  I thanked YMA for the clear explanation and said that yes, I realized I would need to pay more.

And just then, Mr. R&H cried out, “YES!  There IS a pump!”  The water level was down far enough that he could see the top of the pump.  Now that he was certain that a pump did exist down there, he carefully explained to me what would need to happen to get our system up and running again.

(to be continued. . . )

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