The sump pump has been going since last Wednesday, at first near-continuously, but the last couple of days just every three minutes or so. This despite overnight lows in the teens.
Because I talk so much about sump pumpery, I get a fair amount of search traffic looking for tips, products, news on the subject. I’m no expert, of course. But if you’ve come on a search for “sump pump keeps running continuously,” you might be ready to pause and think about what the sump pump means. I know you’re panicking. That periodic sound, the toilet flush signature, is nerve-wracking. But bear with me a moment. Because our reactions to the sump pump are perhaps more important than whatever’s happening downstairs.*
My son has asthma. He takes one medicine every day, two if he’s got any kind of respiratory illness like a cold or cough. Our bank account flirts with zero every month or so.
Point: the water in the cellar is like this undercurrent of fear, an ever-present reminder that the surface of life, the routine, the good health, the things working right of life, is fragile, and only surface. As the thin film of the atmosphere is to the rocky bulk of our planet…this tiny envelope is all that protects us from the savagery of cold space.
To stave off the flood, the asthma attack, or the poverty, we’ve got the sump pump, the medicines, jobs. And I find myself hating the sump pump, disliking the medicines, being irritated by the job. In other words, I despise the the very things for which I should be grateful.
Which is absolutely pointless, because these events or potentials — the flood, the asthma, the possibility of hardscrabble living — are the events that spell out a life. And the mitigators — the sump pump, the medicines, the jobs — are the tools we develop and choose to navigate through the events. They’re the oars and the raft we use to steer among the rocks, upon the water of time, which rushes forward and provides the exhilaration we came here for in the first place and my analogizer just overheated.
Not only is there no reason to dislike the life-preserving medicine, but — because the medicine fortunately exists and we can get it — there’s no reason to hate the asthma. Because if it wasn’t the water, or the asthma, or the vast dark bulk of being broke that lurks just beneath the bank account, it would be something else, wouldn’t it? Everyone worries about something. You’re famous and you worry that your next film will suck. Your interest rate just ballooned and you worry that you’re going to suffer foreclosure. You’re homecoming queen and you worry that you’re getting fat. You’re happy, healthy, and well-heeled, and you worry that it could all come crashing down because you’re a talentless fraud. And yeah, you were seen talking to some American soldiers the other day and you’re worried you’ll be killed.
I barely know where I’m going with this, except that if your sump pump is running continuously, as mine is, then GOOD FOR YOU; IT’S WORKING. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t visit zoeller.com to see about stopping the problem at its source, or remove allergens from your home and take action to improve air quality, or buckle down and put some money into a regular old no-interest-earning savings account, for just in case. But for now? It’s working. If you’re reading this, it’s working.
And of course, if you’re reading this and some aspect of it stopped working — you lost a loved one, your home was destroyed by fire, there’s a security guard standing next to you holding a file box — well, that’s it working, too. And you have my sympathy. Truly.
Last week, on Day Two of the continuously running pump, I called the fire department to confirm that they had pumps, checked our spare sump pump, made sure the generator was at the front of the garage — essentially did everything I could to make sure that the system and the backup system would function. And then I went to bed, and I actually slept.
A flooded cellar, lost furnace, lost electrical panel, all this would be bad. But it hasn’t happened.
(*Or go here if you’re desperate.)