Drove back and forth a lot, dug an unnecessary hole…

Tobie made out like a burglar today: Three Jeep rides! And he got to see the nice lady! Three times!

8:30 on Sunday morning. I didn’t have very much planned: Needed to go take some voltage measurements at Ian’s but other than that I was just going to hang out. That’s when the phone rang – Neighbor L had no water pressure and couldn’t get her pressure pump to run, and could I come over and help her with the vault lid and see if we could figure out the problem?

Trip One: Tobie and I arrived, I helped remove the heavy steel lid and set up the ladder so she could climb down and see if anything obvious was wrong with the pump. There was no flooding, the electricity was working, and that was about as far as I’m qualified to check a pressure pump. They’re complex and confusing and I’ve never owned one. A phone call to Neighbor S, who’s far more knowledgeable than I, found him on the road and unavailable for the next several hours. We went home.

Trip Two: Neighbor L called again – no wonder the pressure pump wouldn’t run, the water tank was empty! Last time she checked it there were 800 gallons in there and she doesn’t use that much water in a few days. Must be a leak, and the ground is wet over by the workshop hydrant. Will I come over and help her dig it up to find the leak? Sure – Tobie and I rode again. The ground at the corner of the workshop near the hydrant was indeed wet but I pointed out that it was right under the drip edge. It snowed yesterday and everything was wet. I didn’t see any reason to dig up the hydrant but she already had the gravel raked away and insisted. Okay, digga we musta. We got down to the pipe and fittings and there was clearly nothing wrong down there. We went around to all the other outdoor hydrants – they have five – and there was nothing wrong with any of them. We went inside and looked everywhere water could be leaking. There was nothing wrong.

Meanwhile she had turned on the well pump to fill the tank. We went out to the vault and she switched on the power to the pressure pump, which instantly began whirring cheerfully away. Checked the house faucets, which now poured forth very nicely. Whatever the problem was, it involved an empty tank and not a broken pump. We put the lid back on the vault. Tobie and I went home. I promised to come back after lunch and mid-day chores, and bring some stuff to insulate the hole we’d dug because she was still convinced there was something wrong with that hydrant.

Trip Three: Neighbor L called a third time. She’d been on the phone with D, who said he rebuilt that hydrant two months ago and there was nothing wrong with it. He also said that the water softener used 200 gallons of water every backflush, which occurred every other night. If she hadn’t run the well pump in a week, there was good reason for the tank to be empty.

(Joel’s chin hits his chest.)

Tobie and I rode forth, and I helped fill the hole and pretty the site back up. We came home.

Once the tank is full that should end the crisis. But the day is young.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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12 Responses to Drove back and forth a lot, dug an unnecessary hole…

  1. 200 gallons? I was vaguely aware that softeners used up water in the cycle, but I had no idea it was that much. Seems a bit wasteful in the desert.

  2. Anonymous says:

    On balance, neighborly neighbors are a good thing.

  3. Joel says:

    It does seem like an awful lot but I really don’t know.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Joel for a desert hermit you are really quite sweet. Makes me want to pack up and move. Ear you:-)

  5. Anon says:

    I had a 2004 keep and the transmission slipped when cold.
    I tried everything, but finally put a can of seafoam on there and it worked perfectly for 20,000 miles before I sold it. Only $8 to try.

  6. Arthur says:

    Some time back a close friend passed away and a bit later it was discovered the surviving spouse knew where the can opener was and how it worked but was woefully deficient in a lot of other important knowledge.

    That led me to create a “Read Me First” addendum to my estate trust documents, AND begin assembling a “House/VehicleCare Bible” containing as much of the “this is where, this is how, this is when, and this is who to call” information about our living arrangement and its physical environment, with references to manuals, etc. (which are kept in a particular file folder), as I could. It’s an ongoing process because we are always thinking of stuff to add – which is why there’s also a “thought of it but haven’t included it yet” folder with our notes in it.

    We don’t have a particularly complex lifestyle or living environment, but it’s been surprisiing how much each of us knows that the other doesn’t about the “what, where, when, how, who” stuff.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Does she use that much water to need to regenerate so soon? With the horses gone I will bet their water consumption is a fraction of what it was so they can reset the water softener regenerate on a longer cycle.

  8. Joel says:

    No, the horses wouldn’t have affected it. You don’t feed animals water from a softener.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Ah, I’ve never dealt with horses, good to know. If she is filling the tank every week and the softener uses 200 gallons to regenerate 3.5 times a week that is most of her water going to the septic system. She might want to have a water system tech come out check the system, and maybe extend the regeneration cycle or replace a pure timer with a flow meter. Our system by Kinetico uses the flow meter to schedule night regenerations, and they have systems that are purely mechanical for the Amish farmer market.

  10. ka9vsz says:

    RE the horses’ sodium exposure via softened water: Your local nephrologist will almost certainly say that since it’s OK for humans to drink softened water despite being on a sodium-restricted diet, it will be OK for Flicka or Scout to drink softened water. I could be completely wrong. I’d ask my local vet for her expert opinion but she doesn’t work for free and I’m too cheap to satisfy my curiosity.
    Any readers have better info?

  11. ka9vsz says:

    Anon @ 228: I believe electricity is OK if it is generated on site. I do find the idea of a purely mechanical/hydraulic softener attractive considering the possibly-impending SHTF. Of course, sourcing salt nuggets could be an issue. Or a business opportunity.

  12. JC says:

    Buddy of mine did plumbing in the Texas Hill Country, which is pretty soft water for an aquifer. Tastes good, doesn’t raise a lather. He uses a series of holding tanks, output using filtration to purpose. The drinking quality water goes through the big filter thingie and spillover goes into the grey water tank which catches bath and dish water. Black water (concentrated sewage) hits a different loop. My buddy who did this was on a property, and labeled this valve ‘TO DC.’ (Direct Compost). George Herbert Walker Bush damn near fell over laughing. ‘So you’re sending the shit to DC?’

To the stake with the heretic!