Putting a home repair theory to the test

About four and a half years ago, I posted about my belief that warranties usually aren’t worth the money. Our sump pump had failed, and the company that had installed it charged me $850 to put in a new one.  Had I paid $165 a year for the warranty and service visits, they would have replaced it for free, but by my math I still broke even.

At the time, I concluded that I could probably do this much cheaper myself, and I swore I would do so if this ever happened again:

More importantly, I watched everything the tech did when he replaced the sump pump.  It doesn’t look that complicated, now that I see how the pipes fit together.  If it fails again, I think I might take a stab installing a much cheaper one from Home Depot myself now that I know what to do.

Well, guess what? That sump pump just failed again. Time to put the theory to the test.

So many years later, I had a vague memory of how the old sump pump was connected from watching the tech replace it last time. It should just be a simple matter of loosening the collar that held the pipe on, and then I should be able to remove the pump and put in a new one.

First, I needed to actually get to the sump pump, which was covered with gardening supplies and other assorted basement items.  After clearing them all away and removing the cover, I peered in to the dimly lit tank to find the pump and see how well it matched up with my memories.

For tasks like these, I’ve found a very handy device… a neck mounted lamp called a HugLight.  It’s a pair of LED flashlights mounted on a semi-flexible cord that you can bend to hold in place, either hooked around an object or around your neck.  It let’s you keep both hands free but still have light right where you need it.

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Once I got in there, it was just as I remembered.  I found the collar and with a screw driver I was able to disconnect and pull out the pump.  Easy.

Then, it was a trip to Home Depot.  I found the sump pumps in the back, at a much more reasonable range of $100 to $250.  I chose one for $230 because it looked the most similar to the one I had just removed.  Also, the last time I did this, it cost me $850, so even the most expensive models would still be a substantial savings.

Back at the house, I dropped the new sump pump in… and discovered that even though they looked similar, the pipe was a good 4-5 inches too short to reach the connector. Shoot, I hadn’t thought of that when I thought this would be so easy.

So, here I was at the turning point… I could either call in a plumber, or I could keep trying to fix this myself. I really like our plumber (Tom Lanza, if you need someone in the Cambridge/Somerville area).  The problem is that I would then need to juggle my schedule to arrange for him to come out.

Also, I don’t mind paying a plumber for complex jobs, but I hate spending the money on something that is actually quite easy, if you just know the steps. I still felt like this shouldn’t be too hard, so I persevered.

And so, back off to the Home Depot to see if I could find a connector.  Sure enough, there was exactly such a device for connecting a sump pump to an existing drain pipe.  It cost me another $25, but I was still way ahead.

Then came the challenging part – with the connector, the pipe was now too long, so I would need to use a hacksaw to cut the old pipe down to size.  I knew that if I messed this up, I would have to call in the plumber.

With a deep breath, I made the measurement and then cut the pipe. Within a few minutes, I had attached the connector and then hooked in the sump pump. A quick test showed that it was able to successfully pump the water out.

Success!  At least I hope so… it will have to wait until the next major rain storm to find out if I did this properly.

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2 Responses to Putting a home repair theory to the test

  1. Deborah Rothman says:

    Wow!!! I’m so proud of you. Here’s to more of the same.

  2. Martins says:

    Not too difficult! I recommend you get a spare for when yours breaks and everyone out there needs one or you need another. I use the Zoeller brand.

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