Practical Advice

Extraordinary Ideas

No-Nonsense Solutions

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Finally -- WATER!

Not Particular About My Napping Spot
She just decided to quit playing and rolling around to take a nap.
It only took a week, but we finally got the water situation resolved. As it turns out, after overspending about $1,200, but to nobody's particular fault. I'll get to that in a minute.

So the intention was to get this thing dealt with right away in the morning. Well, that was a noble idea, but around 8AM we started to get torrential downpours (and a load of very neat lightning). By 8:20, I had been informed by the well guys that they were going to do inside work until the weather passed (for which I can't blame them -- it'd have been impossible to work outside in that rain). So I went to work instead.

The rain continued until nearly noon, and then cleared off nicely. Somewhat randomly, around 1:45, they showed up at the house to get the project done. After all the rain (which ended up being about 2.25"), I automatically pretty much wrote off any digging activity until tomorrow, so this was quite a pleasant surprise. So I came home to check out what was going on.

By the time I got home they had one hole dug (next to the hydrant, where the suspected problem was to be), only to find that there was no problem at the hydrant aside from a rock that got caught in it, preventing it from draining back when closed. Perplexing. So another hole was dug at the well casing.

Go figure. Dry hole.

The real problem was becoming obvious -- somewhere a shitload of water was being sent, but there was no place between the house and well that seemed saturated at all. We were looking in the wrong place.

About this time, neighbor Josh came home and saw what was going on (so came over to visit). I mentioned the situation and that we were then looking for other possible outlets for said water. He then informed me that (unbeknown to me) there used to be a water line and hydrant for a now demolished building that was fed from our well. But it was capped off prior to our purchase of the house (which is why I was never informed of it).

This was the sort of information I needed to we ended up over at the barn where Josh told me he'd nearly gotten stuck with the lawnmower yesterday and noticed a bunch of water where an old hog waterer had once been. Upon obvious inspection, here a 1" plastic water line had blown a valve off and was wide open to the world.

Could this actually be the cause? Could it be that simple?

We turned on the well pump once again, and sure enough -- copious amounts of water were being pumped several hundred feet from the house and out (ultimately) into the cornfield. So we found the cause of the pressure problem. For the last week it's been pouring out as fast as it could be pumped to a location neither Josh nor I were even aware was being actively fed by my well.

So we dug another hole to cap off the line at the barn below ground (to prevent further problems and freezing issues later), and voila -- pumping water now produced enough pressure to shut off the pump.

It only took a week of contemplation, a lost well pump, a replacement pump, three service calls, and three backhoe holes to figure out. Wait, and the pain in the ass of having to turn on the water pump every time water was wanted in the house.

When it's all said and done, I expect this to cost somewhere in the realm of $1,500 and $2,000. But it's not all bad.

For starters, we've got an incredibly more efficient, less power-consuming, and self-managing (can save itself from short-cycling to death and from thermal overload) well pump. Additionally, we know that the well (even though there's an old pump stuck at the bottom) can still produce more than what the pump can draw -- this means that well replacement shouldn't be necessary in the near future.

And another good thing to know -- there's a big 1" water line running all over underground. :) But even better is that it's a 1" water line into the house, where it's reduced to 3/4". When I finally get around to replacing the pressure tank, I will likely run 1" line from the entrance point to the house through the pressure tank and to the main shutoff for the house. This won't necessarily make a huge difference for anything in the house, but it means that I can likely put a 3/4" (or possibly 1") external spigot on the east side of the house in the future if necessary (it's currently 1/2" reduced from 3/4", so the flow is much slower than the hydrant on the west side of the house).

So the holes were backfilled (once the hydrant was fixed and had a bit of a boot created over that portion to prevent another rock from jamming it up again), and the guys left.

I was so used to turning off the pump that when I was in the basement to turn the house water main back on, I habitually went to the service panel to turn on the well pump. But it has been so nice to be 'back to normal' so to speak.

A normal shower will be a very welcome thing.

The situation sucks, because we'll end up paying a lot more than we should have for this fix. But, I was never made aware of this mysterious water line (because it was supposed to have been capped off before the house was put on the market -- long before we even looked at it) it never even occurred to me that the well might be feeding the neighboring barn. But it could've been a lot worse. :)

So anyway, that's pretty much been how my day has gone -- very long day and I'm looking forward to a more normal day tomorrow. I think we're going to head out to my folks' place tomorrow evening for a night -- so I will likely try to play photogenic and see if I can get cool pictures to bring back.

So until next time -- be glad that your water supply isn't interrupted. :)
"Egotist: a person more interested in himself than in me."
- Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914)


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

That's Right -- It's Talk Like A Pirate Day!

I Sorta Like This Pirate Stuff
A series of photos taken in the spirit of 'International Talk Like A Pirate Day,' she was briefly enjoying her time with the parrot and staged scene...
When I discovered late last night that it was International Talk Like a Pirate Day today, I was really pretty stoked. I wanted to immediately dig out the old eye patch and go have some fun.

Alas, that didn't really happen...although I did get out the eye patch for Kirstin and our little staged bit tonight. I think it turned out alright, even though she didn't particularly care for the eye patch portion.

Today was a bit of a long day. I managed to get some stuff I'd been idly putting off (with a project at work) done today, so that was good. It hadn't been really high on the priority list (hence put off), but it came to the point where it just had to be done, and it is. I ended up staying around late tonight rather than coming home prior to going to choir.

Back to the pirate bit briefly again, my favorite part thus far of the official website is the pirate pickup lines section. Good stuff there. :)

And on another not-so-random note, I got word tonight that it appears we will have a resolved water situation come tomorrow evening. The only thing that could interfere is an emergency service call for the well guys (a no water type of situation), which would postpone for a few hours so I'm told. But as of right now, it sounds like sometime tomorrow morning we'll start digging.

I will be happy when it's done. Regular water pressure will be a welcome change.

Short of that stuff, I really don't have a lot to say right now, so I'm calling it a night. Until next time...
"A narcissist is someone better looking than you are."
- Gore Vidal


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Pictures, Pictures, Pictures

Fun With Exposure
This picture looks more like a painting than a photo to me due to the high saturation from the overexposed image.
So I went a little overboard tonight -- I managed to take something like 83 pictures in the course of about an hour. I was on a roll. Of those 83, I managed to upload to Flickr about 25. It's a fairly good spread of items, and I had a lot of fun messing with camera settings this time.

This is probably one of my most favorite of the entire session. I haven't quite pinned down why just yet, but I really like it. I will have to play more with the camera now that I figured out how to take some really decent looking pictures in lower light levels. This will come in handier as the evenings get longer (and as it gets darker earlier and earlier).

I also spent some time going around in the various groups I've joined on Flickr, spreading the fun. I didn't really think I'd get into it, but it's somewhat addictive. And it's always changing. So that's been kinda cool. I have noticed a significant increase in my photostream activity over the last few even if I don't get a lot of comments on pictures right now, there's definitely been some traffic -- which is cool.

In homeowner news, it turns out that we will indeed need to dig a new water line from the house to well. The investigative work provided little good news (aside from the fact that the existing line is plastic and not galvanized steel). So it looks like Thursday or Friday will be the day of fixing. It will be a welcome change to have proper water pressure again.

I came home from work a little early today and installed one of the three new replacement basement windows -- this one was in the cistern. All told, it took about two hours to complete (which is kinda ridiculous considering its simplicity), but to be fair I had to wait for Kirstin to wake up before I could use the table saw to cut boards to length. So it really wouldn't have taken that long, but it was better than dealing with CrabbyBaby(tm).

The new window looks and functions incredibly better than the old one. In fact, no comparison. I don't know in actuality how much it'll be used, but it keeps out critters and unfavorable weather, and that's what's important. So I need to pick up a few more 1x4's (two, to be exact) so I can replace the other two windows and that project will be complete. I'm really pleased with how well the windows fit -- they're awfully snug, and will be perfect once caulked and sealed up. A quick coat of paint on the exposed wood (used for shims) and all will be well.

And that was basically my evening in general. Pretty unique and oddly productive.

So until next time...
"It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity."
- Albert Einstein (1879-1955)


Monday, September 17, 2007

Oy! It's So Humid!

Cute Apple Shirt
She had this cute little apple/ABC shirt on today. She wears the heck out of her clothes. :)
So today's weather was just kinda miserable -- one of those really hot and humid sort of days. I noticed that officially at the airport this afternoon (in Morris) the temperature/heat index reached 86/89 respectively.

God Bless September in Minnesota, right?

The air was thick -- cut it with a knife thick. A good day to stay inside. Which is what I ended up doing for most of the day.

Both utilities came out today to do their locates so we can possibly dig up and install new water line between the house and well. I was quite pleased with the job done by the phone company -- exactly what I wanted. Not so pleased with the power company's job. They marked their underground line along the road right of way, but didn't do a locate between the pole (where the main meter resides) and the service entrance to the house.

I called them about this and they said it wasn't their problem -- that it was 'secondary wiring' and would be the responsibility of an electrician to do a locate. To which I say 'phbbt!'

It just seems ridiculous to do something like that when a) the 'call before you dig' thing is a state law, and b) it's pretty obvious that while it may be secondary wiring, it's still service cable and not the random things that might be typically installed by an electrician (garage feeds or random electric on posts in the yard, etc.). I guess I can chalk this up to another unhappy moment with my power company, Agralite. I guess that sort of 'not my problem' attitude is what I get for my $30/month 'access charge' fee just to have the privilege of being an Agralite customer (when I have no other choice).

As you can tell, I'm not really pleased with them. They provide reasonable enough power and have reasonable load management options, but for being a member-owned cooperative, they seem to really have a big-ass bureaucratic structure. My favorite is when you call to their office about something trivial and get transferred from person to person.

Seriously -- how difficult is it to answer a question about load management and how to tap into the control box? That was my last previous incident with them prior to this beautiful engagement.

So enough about the power company. I've got a query in with a local electrician to see if they can come out (hopefully for cheap/free) and do a locate. If not, I'll have to rely on the well guys to figure it out, I guess.

Speaking of well guys, I called them today to inform that the locates were done and we could dig anytime. The guy [who had been here last week] called me back, oddly enough while making salsa and getting habanero and lime juices in his eye. Anyway, I got the distinct impression that he doesn't really want to dig in a new line if at all possible. So after a brief exchange (due to his need to get his eye flushed out), he came to the conclusion that we should try a few other things (namely in the house) to see if we can pinpoint the cause/source of the leak before doing major excavation.

I can respect that, so I did some investigative work myself tonight. I thought it might have something to do with the 'pipe to nowhere' that goes out on the east side of the house, but that was closed off and shouldn't be a cause (since opening up the gate valve -- a trick in and of itself -- caused the water pressure to drop to about 10PSI). I then also went outside and looked for soft or wet spots in the yard again. No such luck.

But, I did put a few random things I've noticed into context tonight. When the well guys were here, they tested the water pressure at the hydrant which is between the house and well. They specifically noted it wasn't draining back when shut off. At the time I told them that it behaved properly the first time one would use it (say in a day) -- where it would take a few seconds for water to come once you opened the valve -- but the successive uses generally produced near-immediate water.

Well, yesterday I re-filled the dog water tub. And I noticed that the water which pooled up below the hydrant when allowed to run on the ground didn't really get soaked up right away. Furthermore, I noticed tonight that the only soft(er) spot in the yard is right around the hydrant.

This leads me to believe (after putting it all into context) that perhaps the magic leak is somewhere around the hydrant and its connection to the water line. It seems a reasonable guess, and something which I'll pass on when the diagnostic work is getting done...which I'm told won't likely be tomorrow but will be sometime this week.

So for now we're still on the 'kick the pump on as needed' thing...but it's evolved into more of a 'let's use water during this period of time and leave the pump running continuously for an hour or two during said time' sort of thing. And it seems to work out pretty well that way.

The mystery still exists -- and I can't wait to get it fixed. I can only hope that it is indeed in the area of the hydrant, because that will make the excavation much simpler than digging in a whole new line and also not mean interfering with the telephone service and presumably also the power service.

We'll see how this evolves over time. At least when it's all said and done we should have a reasonably good water supply once again and probably also have this pressure tank business replaced and working the way it should.

In other random news, Kirstin is 188 days old today! Crazy stuff.

So until next time...
"The secret of success is to know something nobody else knows."
- Aristotle Onassis (1906-1975)


Sunday, September 16, 2007

NASA Just Saved A Bunch Of Money On It's Insurance...

Tired And Sick Little Girl
She is battling the little baby version of the same cold that Beth and I currently have. I have to say that she deals with it pretty well -- all things considered. She's fussy, but not screaming constantly or the like. launching a Gecko in space?

I ran across this article about NASA studying spaceflight and the Gecko last week and have been meaning to mention it here ever since. But the well thing happened and kinda preempted anything I was going to write about in a humorous way.

While the brief article really isn't anything terribly interesting (to me -- NASA has been doing studies like this since the organization's inception), the first thought I had when reading it was -- I bet they're saving a bunch of money on their [fill in the blank] insurance.

So that's my random bit of humor for the day. It's been a pretty boring day for the most part...but that's because I found myself pretty much immobilized this morning by the cold I've been battling. It was pretty nightmarish -- my head was going to explode, I swear.

So I slept in today...until about 10:45 or so...and actually got out of bed sometimes around 11:30. I also had a fever during the morning hours and was just not in good shape for the most part.

But, the good news is that my cold is progressing -- no more sore throat at all, and I'm past the initial congestion phase and now into the slight congestion and initial coughing/expectorant phase. So it's getting better, but there's a ways to go yet. I'm just glad I seem to have a strong immune system which seems to not make this sort of thing last forever. Must be all the fruit I eat. Yeah. That's what it is.

I spent a while today playing Super Mario World and finished the game. I still haven't found all of the random areas, but it's very much close. I've got a score of 94 right now.

I also spent some significant time today working with groups on Flickr. I'd joined a few groups in the last few days but never really posted any pictures to them...and so I did that today and also explored for new groups. It's kind of a neat thing to do...and makes me feel even more like a flickrite. :)

So anyway, that's basically how the day has gone. I did manage to get all the garbage out and haul the recyclables to town this afternoon while my cold medicines were behaving well (I felt good). It was a nice day out today (even though I spent little time outdoors) -- with a high temperature in the mid-70's. Comfortable enough.

It's about time for bed, though -- so until next time...
"When you have to kill a man, it costs nothing to be polite."
- Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)


My Blog Profile

My Photo
Minnesota, United States
View my complete profile

Miscellaneous Bits

  • One Gorgeous Daughter (Kirstin)
  • An Incredible Wife (Beth)
  • Two Cats (George/Felix)
  • Two Dogs (Koshka/Kurva)
  • My birthday is at the 48851th place in Pi
  • Frank Oz and I share birthdays (Go Fozzie Bear)!
  • Mike Myers and I share birthdays (Party On, Wayne)!

MZ Online Blog: The Archive


Save to Save to W3C XHTML Valid W3C CSS Valid W3C Tableless! W3C WAI Double-A WCAG 1.0
Copyright 1997-2019 Matt Zaske. All Rights Reserved. | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Search | Site Map