Okay, Mojo Is Willing to Concede the Well Pump Is Indeed Trying to Kill Her

Fans of the Craptacular have known for some time--due to Mojo’s incessant whining about it--that Mojo and her well pump have, shall we call, A History. A history that has yet to involve personal injury lawyers and expensive litigation, but she's not quite ready to close the door on THAT path. But for now... well, they say one should keep one's friends close and one's enemies closer. Looks like I have to move my bed down into the cellar and sleep near the well pump.

But first, a technical primer for those who live where there is REAL water service, and not out in the sticks where one must pray to the Evil Rain Gods for the privilege of having wet stuff come out of the faucets on a semi-regular basis. You see, unlike you citified "Just shut up and call a plumber already" sorts, Mojo has a well. Granted it is one step up from the hang-a-bucket-on-a-rope-and-twirl-it-down-to-the-water well, but the principle is the same. Instead of having picturesque rock-wall sides and a mossy wooden roof, Mojo's well is the more modern kind--essentially a big ol' pipe that got hammered into the ground until it pierced the water table, and then connecting the pipe to the side of the house.

INSIDE the house is where the fun begins.

Well Well Pressure Tank.Nowadays wells have the pump actually installed in the pipe sticking down into the ground. This is nice because it spares those living in the house from hearing the noise of the electric pump go on and off whenever they need water pumped into the house. But for many of us, the setup has a pump in the basement, with the water pressure set to around 50 PSI. The pipe from the well sticks on the front of this pump, and from there it is pumped up and out into the house. An elegant, but somewhat noisy, system. While I have my own petty complaints about it, I gotta say IT SURE BEATS HAULING BUCKETS.

Now, when most people who are on "city" water--meaning the water is piped in from a big water main run by your town--the whole entire system is pressurized already from the GIANT PUMPS at the head of the system and the SHEER MASS of water being moved. So regardless of how the rest of your utilites might be functional, so long as they didn't come over to your house with a big giant wrench and manually turn off your water, you will have water pressure when you turn your faucet on. It takes something dramatic--a big water main break, say--for you NOT to have water.

But when you have your own well, you have your own well pump, which is invariably electric. So if your power goes out, you soon lose water pressure, and you're back to the Stone Age hauling buckets. It's all a self-contained system, you see. Another thing: the well pump tries to hold 50 PSI, so if it drops below that the pump turns on. If you are taking a shower or somehow moving water constantly, the pump would be turning on and off, which would make the actual water flow go kinda fast and slow. Nobody really wants that. So to regulate the pressure and smooth it out, between the well pump and your pipes there is what is called a PRESSURE TANK. This maintains the 50 PSI you crave, while saving some wear and tear on your poor well pump. This pressure tank works via an air-filled bladder. Which sometimes means, after a decade or so of faithful service, the bladder fails, the tank becomes waterlogged, and no longer properly pressurizes things. You can stretch things out a bit by recharging the tank with an air compressor--a GREAT INVESTMENT, by the way, for with a decent-sized tank and 50 PSI you do NOT want to try to re-pressurize with a bicycle pump; you'd be down there pumping ALL DAY and FAR INTO THE NIGHT--but once your bladder is compromised the writing is on the wall and you should see about getting a new pressure tank. So I did.

Being the age of miracles and wonder, I ordered a well-reviewed one off of Amazon, and it was delivered in two days. While bulky and large, it was actually fairly light--maybe fifty pounds--and when the UPS delivery person came up the driveway with this huge thing on his shoulder it evoked about as much excitement as what we old timers used to reserve for phone books.

I left it on the porch for a few days, and last Friday I decided that TODAY WAS THE DAY to drag that sucker down to the basement and hook it up. Being the lazy sort, instead of picking it up and carrying it, I decided it would be easier to tip it on its side and slide it down the stairs. Basement stairs. Very steep, concrete basement stairs. (It was in a cardboard box, so it wasn't like I was going to scratch it to bits on the concrete.) So I tip it on its side, push it down the stairs--very STEEP concrete stairs, mind you--in front of me and hold onto it from the top of the box. If you've ever played tug-of-war with a fifty-pound dog perhaps you can appreciate the physics of what happened next. The tank started getting away from me, and I hung on like grim death, and it started DRAGGING me. So here I am, all hunched over, trying to keep my feet while being dragged down the steps. And then the box reached the end--this box is about five feet long, mind you--and it STOPS DEAD. Momentum being what it is, laws of physics and all, I was not as fortunate. There was a brief half a second where I convinced myself I had caught myself just in the very NICK OF TIME, another half second where I started to tip over and thought, no, no, no, don't fall... all followed by the slow inexhorable forward somersault down the steep concrete steps.

I had a couple of things working for me. First, I had kept my feet for most of the journey, so when I say "I fell down the cellar steps" in actuality I only fell the last two or three. Second, when I saw the looming concrete Corners of Death heading toward me I twisted my body and FLUNG myself onto the smooth cardboard box of my new pressure tank instead. And three, a few years of Aikido training actually stood me in great stead, since, while I might have sucked at martial arts, I DID in fact learn how to fall properly, so instead of splatting I did a quite glorious unbendable arm circle rolling-onto-my-shoulder move, combined with tucking my head in a la proper Aikido form. This probably saved me from CERTAIN DEATH.

Aikido Roll

UNFORTUNATELY, due to the haphazard construction of the house and the cellar whereupon it sits, the cellar steps stop a good two feet before the cellar floor begins. To compensate for that, the previous owners threw a cinderblock on the floor to act as one last step. It was a good system, so we never thought of changing it. Until now, when my graceful Aikido roll ended up flopping onto said cinderblock, which is not the optimal surface one wishes to land on, let me tell you. Since I was in the middle of said graceful roll, my extremities--in particular my right shin--took the force of the landing, right up against the rather sharp corner of said block, but it managed to catch other bits I am attached to before I landed on the gravel that makes up the cellar floor.

Ifoot lay there for a while wondering idly if I had broken my lower leg, but I twirled it around and stomped it once or twice on the floor as I lay there, and eventually got up the nerve to look. The skin wasn't even broken, although a large patch had been squeaked off. Aside from the actual blow to my shin, which I would equate to a good hit with a sledgehammer, it didn't hurt one bit. I was a little shaken, and lay there for a while thinking I was getting too old to be falling down the cellar steps, but when I got up I was relatively fine. Not even the tiniest limp. I wasn't even all that sore the next day. But I decided I had had enough of well pump pressure tank installation, so it still sits down there awaiting its fate. Maybe tomorrow.

The only thing was, over the next couple of days I apparently bled quite a bit from the shin blow. I did not bruise SO much on the shin itself, but the blood pooled all around my ankle. It was so awesome I HAD to take pictures. You would look at this and SWEAR I had the world's worst broken ankle, but it's just blood leaking from the shin. (Okay, after a day or two of telling everyone it was TOTALLY FINE I *did* Google something along the line of "do I have to worry from a terrible terrible bruise that keeps growing even though it doesn't hurt OMG am I going to lose my foot" to assure myself that I was indeed totally fine.)

So moral of the story: Don't fall down the cellar steps. Second moral: I'm pretty certain now my entire water system is out to kill me. I'd ordinarily say with typical Mojo arrogance, "Let the battle of wits commence!" but we all know my track record of trying to outwit inanimate objects is not particularly stellar. So, yeah, there's THAT.