Posted by: norstarnewengland | March 16, 2010

January and February Rains

Place: Home – As I am writing this, a third major series of storms has hit the area with several inches of rain. When the final tallies of this storm are done, I’ll add a submission for it. Right now, I’ll fill you in on the story, thus far, concerning the two previous storms and my basement.

So, when we bought the house, we were told that we would have ‘occasional flooding’ in the basement. Through the end of 2009, we were fine. Then, in January, we started finding out what ‘occasional’ really meant.

We had both encountered a bug and had to stay home during a storm that had rained hard for a period of time, melting the cap of snow with it. After she went down to start washing a load of laundry, she soon after called upstairs to say we had water in the basement. How much, I asked. About four inches. I immediately came downstairs to find that 80% of the basement covered in a large lake that was in fact about four inches deep. The sump pump never kicked in. We spent the morning and the afternoon bailing. Good thing that I had the foresight to buy a shop vac two weeks earlier. We bailed until near evening enough water was removed to inspect the sump pump.

When we moved into the house, one of the conditions was to have a radon system installed by the owners – radon had been discovered. So, a company was hired. Part of the system was covering the sump well with a plexiglass plate and sealed with silicon calking. I saw that the float with the switch was pressed against the plate. I broke the seal – this disturbed the float, which started the sump pump, which drained the sump well – problem solved. Sort of. I couldn’t get it to start independently, so, with a few kicks and continued vacuuming, we were able to get it under control, and by that time, the water stopped seeping in through cracks in the floor.

The Sump, with Plexiglass Plate. Not good as it was.


Forward now to the end of February. Another storm hit, and we were more prepared to watch. The sump did fill, but the pump did not engage. Fiddling with the float switch, I determined that it didn’t engage until the water level backed out of the sump and onto the floor by at least an inch. So, as we pumped I tried to get it to start at a lower level. I was able to get it to engage a few times, but not consistently, or it would not stop. So, we lost sleep that night while we kept watch. To make a long story shorter, it took another day for the water to recede, and the radon company came and removed the plate and was able to get the pump to work properly.
One of the springs from a floor crack

This is one of the spring flows from a floor crack.


So, we were hoping that such great storms, which were unusual for that time of year, to be the worst that we would see before we could look at longer term solutions in warmer weather. Little did we know that these two storms would in fact be just the warmup for the big storm in March.

Stay tuned!

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