For a few years, we were obsessed with this British show called Junkyard Wars, which, I believe, aired on the Discovery Channel.  Want to know how obsessed? We once spent nine hours at someone else's house, lying on the living room carpet, eating junk food, watching the Junkyard Wars marathon because each and every one of us Could. Not. Look. Away.

Junkyard Wars is where I first heard the British expression "bodged together."  Incidentally, it's also where I first heard the phrase "drawn reciprocating dingle-arm with sinusoidal repleneration mounted on a base plate of pre-framulated amulite."  Can you believe I lived to adulthood without incorporating that into my vocabulary?

Now, there's a new version of this idea on the Science Channel, called Stuck with Hackett.  All I have to say about that is it's a good thing we discovered this one early on in the show's history because there aren't enough episodes to have a marathon yet, and so we only waste an hour at a time watching this dude make a washing machine and drier out of car parts and improvised flame throwers.

When we had our beautiful briny sea event in the basement last week, The KingofHearts stayed up all night that first night with a shop vac and a dream.  A dream that he could one day suck up all the water entering our basement and empty it into an inside drain connected to a sewer faster than Mother Nature could replenish the water in the outside stairwell. I believe I woke up around 1:00 am to the sound of a vacuum motor coming from the basement, but in my sleep-addled haze, it didn't really occur to me that this was an ongoing thing and I fell back asleep. 

Anyway, for whatever reason, he felt like he could handle it and chose not to wake me up.  When I woke again at 4:00 am and still heard the sound of the shop vac, I realized what he'd been doing all night and actually got out of bed to see if he needed help. 

"Have you been doing this all night?"

"Only since about 9:00."

Lesson the first:  Mother Nature is more powerful than us all.  Just ask my friend who lives in New Orleans in a house that sits three-quarters of a foot above sea level (considered high ground in NOLA, by the way)...  a newly rebuilt house.  

I took over shop vac duty while he went to Lowes to purchase a little pump motor.  When I wrote this post, The KingofHearts had attached it to two hoses, one went into the outside dry well and sucked the water up, while the other - our garden hose - emptied that water out in the driveway.  By plugging it in, one could empty out all the water and keep it from coming up under the door.  And if the drywell was empty enough, the ground water drained into it and stopped coming in under the basement walls.  It worked and didn't require picking up a ten gallon shop vac full of water every fifteen minutes and emptying it into the sink.

Lesson the second:  ten gallons of water + one shop vac - three wheels + a drain in a sink three feet off the ground = approximately ninety-three point four pounds + a colossal backache.  I had only taken over shop vac duty for a few short minutes before I developed this equation.

What his little contraption did require, however, was someone to to sit near the motor and plug it in for it to begin to work.  Then when the drain was emptied, it needed to be unplugged to turn it off so the motor didn't burn out pumping air.  For most of Thursday as it continued to rain, I sat in the basement room plugging and unplugging that thing every fifteen minutes while allowing my kids to watch insane amounts of television unsupervised upstairs, so The KingofHearts could catch up on the sleep he'd missed the night before.

By Thursday night, it was still raining, and someone still needed to plug and unplug the motor.  I mentioned in some off-hand comment that it'd be really cool if there was some kind of a switch that could turn the motor off and on.... like.... oh maybe... a sump pump?  Since we've been talking about putting a sump pump in for a couple of years, but never really got around to it, it was a bit of a sore spot.

I insisted that we spell each other on the task so neither of us had to stay up all night again and he said he'd stay up until midnight and then wake me to cover the duty so he could sleep the rest of the night.  When he came to bed, I got up to go downstairs and spell him, but he stopped me. 

"You don't have to do it."

"Well, I'm not letting you stay up all night again."

"No, I mean, I fixed it.  Neither of us has to."

"What do you mean?"

"I made a switch to turn the motor on and off."


"Stuff I found in the basement."


Let me take you on a tour of his bodged-together self-starting sump-pump.

Black motor to the right causes green hose to suck water up from drain.
Switch from neighbor's old sump pump attached to float (like the one that's inside a toilet) goes down inside drain.  Only the floater ball we had did not fit inside the hole.  So he took that off and replaced it with a plastic cup filled with foam.  Water pushes cup/float up, which pushes switch arm up and turns motor on. 2x4s hold the whole thing in place.
Motor sucks water in and pumps it out through gray garden hose.  Excess extension cords allow motor to connect to electricity without opening basement door, thus ensuring no one enters house at night and kills us in our sleep.
Gray garden hose takes water up through basement stairwell, out down driveway...
...and empties water into gutter in front of house, to run down street into storm drain.

Voila!  Poor man's sump pump.

I know I make fun of my husband probably too much, and, truth be told, he gives us all a lot to laugh at.  So laugh if you want - I've already considered submitting these photos to this website - but this little contraption allowed us both to sleep that night.  

Or something like that. 

Thus endeth the lesson.