Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A Glass of Water, Please

You never know how much you use something and take it for granted until it is taken away from you. Today, we went without water for most of the day. And all day I kept turning on the faucet and remembered as soon as I see no water spouting forth, oh yeah, no water. Living in the mountains mean we use well water. No hook-ups to the city's water system also means we don't have to pay for our water. What it does mean, however, is that if something goes wrong with our well system, then we are on our own until we get it fixed.

A little lesson for those of you not familiar with well water and how it works: There is a well pump that is inside of a shaft that is as deep as the well (ours is 80 feet deep). The pump hangs inside the shaft and is connected to a tube that goes down to the water and another tube that shoots the water into a water tank. You have an electric pressure switch that turns on the pump to fill the water tank as it gets used by people flushing the toilet, washing the dishes, etc. Not too complicated once you figure it all out. At the old house, the water tank and pressure switch was located in the laundry room in the basement. The house we live in now, has a well house that is mostly underground and a big concrete slab that sits on top with an opening just big enough to climb down inside. I can stand up straight in there, but anyone taller than 5 foot, 7 inches has to hunch over when down inside the well house. Not my favorite place to be and I prefer not to be down there in the dark, with the spiders and dampness.

This morning, Hubby noticed the water pressure wasn't very strong, so he was going to go to the well house and give some loving to the pressure switch (read: take a brush and rake the connector), it jams once in a while and we bought a replacement switch, but haven't gotten around to replacing it. Hubby opens the metal lid and out pours smoke!! *gasp!* There was some rain up here and the storm must have triggered a power surge and it set the pressure switch on fire!! After the smoke cleared, Hubby went down to see what the damage was and this was what he found:

The metal electrical parts were totally burned and the grey plastic cover melted!! I'm grateful we have a well house and the smoke was all outside instead of in the basement!! The stench of melted plastic was horrible and I can still smell it on my clothes! We hoped it didn't short out the water tank, but there was only one way to find out-- replace the part, turn the power back on and hope for the best! This is what the cover is supposed to look like (the new one has a black cover, but it's the same thing as the grey melted one):
Hubby took out all the old parts and drew a little diagram to help him remember where the wires go (5 wires in all) and then in the process, he made a goof. He didn't put down which color wires go where! Rather than put the wrong wires in the wrong places, he decided to call the neighbor and ask for help. But, we had to wait for him to come home from work, usually about 3. So I asked the girls not to flush the toilets, used wipes for dirty hands and faces, the dirty dishes piled up in the sink, the water bottles we buy for road trips got broken out and we waited until the neighbor showed up. He had the wires connected in no time and for his trouble I just so happened to have some banana bread to give him that I made the other night.

At around 6:30 pm, we have water again! Too late for a proper dinner, so the girls had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The girls have had their baths, the dirty dishes are still piled in the sink and I am about to drag my stinky self into the shower. I'll tackle the dishes in the morning. Thank goodness for paper plates so the dirty dishes aren't piled too high!


Rob Clack said...

I take lots of things apart to try to fix them and have found the most useful item to have about my person is a digital camera. As the dismantling proceeds, just keep clicking (it's free, after all), then upload everything onto the computer so that when you're reassembling, there are some clues as to which wire goes where.

Proved very useful when I did a laser printer/copier.

I know, I know, carts, horses, etc, but I thought I'd pass it on for future reference.

jenny said...

Rob-- y'know, we usually do that, but for some reason, the camera didn't come out. If there is ever a next time, I will be sure to whip out the old camera and take pictures as we go. Thanks for the suggestion and it is a very good one, too! :o)

DJ Kirkby said...

Okay, I know well house and pumps and the like can be a real pain at times, but oh my goodness isnt well water just the best tasting?

Sparx said...

Ah, we used to have the exact same well house in Alberta when I was a kid. There were big centipedes down there and also little salamanders which I loved. We had a well here in the UK when I was a kid too and while the pump didn't break, it did dry up to a trickle in '76 for a while - we'd run a bath, all take a bath in it one after another, then Mum would do some essential laundry (with almost no rinse), then we'd siphon it out of the window into a barrel and use it on the garden!