Oh, You Kidde!
Yesterday was not a good day, mechanically speaking. The day before at 11PM, the newish Kidde combination smoke & CO detector went off. That was odd, because nothing was going on that should have triggered it. It was signaling its smoke alarm. What’s more, pushing the “hush” button only made it hiccup, but not reset for the 10 minutes its supposed to. I paid a pretty penny for it, and it contains a lithium battery that’s supposed to last for 10 years. I set it outside for awhile to give it a change of scenery and some fresh air, but that made no difference, either. The only way to silence it was to turn a screw in the back that permanently grounded out the battery, so now it’s out of action. Hopefully, I can find my receipt and get Kidde to send me a new one.
The next day at mid-morning, the water stopped. That is, turning on a faucet did nothing. The water pump is little but a hearty 12V motor attached to a plastic pressurizing assembly. It pumps water until it senses full back pressure, and then automatically stops. Throwing the power switch would sometimes make it emit a weird, struggling sound, as if maybe something was stripped in its pump section.
That was inconvenient. The day was scheduled to be devoted to errands, like a trip to the laundromat, a visit to KOA for propane and fresh water, plus dumping the Tankmin’s waste section. And, a major grocery shop at Fred’s Market, the only game in town. Since I keep two gallons of water in bottles for such inconveniences, I soldiered on. If you’ve followed this blog for awhile and are really weird, you may remember that I had expected the water pump to give out sometime soon, and had bought a spare, squirreling it away in a storage compartment. I wasn’t dead sure that the pump itself was the problem – it might be the switch or the wiring – but I assumed it was the pump.
So I hit the laundromat and furtively threw a couple of very small bags of trash into their dumpster out back, and then headed out to the local KOA campground for the propane and dump station. It was 12:30 PM, and the office was closed! It seems their hours are 9-12 and 4-7. Oh, poo. Torn by indecision (a standard feature I offer), I decided to return to the Enterprise and see what could be done. Once back, I realized that popping a water connection open at the pump with the freshwater tank half-full would be a Bad Idea, since 10 gallons of water running all over the floor would have a negative impact on my usual practice of walking about without shoes on. Naturally, I’d already discovered that the tank’s dump valve is screwed up forever, so emptying the tank out with a special pump you can attach to your power drill seemed in order. Just push the pump’s slender inlet hose into the tank from the outside filler, turn on the power drill, and you’re in business.
But not today. It couldn’t develop enough suction to prime, despite the manual’s assurance that it could prime itself up to 20′ of hose. So I took it into the kitchen and primed it with a bit of spare water. It now worked, but was pathetic. I got better results by simply using the hose as a gravity siphon to the ground. The hose that’s needed to get past the tank’s inlet guards is like what you use on the air pump of your fish tank, so I checked the flow rate to fill a gallon bottle. Wow. It’ll take between 90 minutes and two hours to pump out 10 gallons! So I set it up, goofed around until 3, and headed for town again to grocery shop and then hit KOA again after 4.
Arriving at about 4:15, I found the office still locked up, with new arrivals milling around impatiently. Not good. I was checking out the oddly-placed dump station when the young lady who works there rolled in. Yea! I was able to drop off the empty propane tank for filling while I worked with the Tankmin at their dump station. Naturally, she was initially confused that I was saying I wanted to pay for using the dump station with no trailer in tow. With the Tankmin, all I had to do was attach the waste tank hose extension, turn the valve 90 degrees, and presto!
But like airplane crashes in threes, nothing came out. It had clogged again. Besides making me wonder about my diet, it also made me break out the dreaded small-diameter stiff plastic hose to insert through the valve and up through the waste hose and into the tank. Not pretty. It was especially not pretty because it didn’t work! It took about 10 minutes of careful, stinking effort with two different diameters of hose to get flow onto the sloped concrete apron around the dump station inlet. I thought I’d had the waste tank cleaned and rinsed out well some months ago when I arrived at my summer haunts, but I guess it must have been only relatively clean. All I can say is, thank God for heavy rubber gloves and abundant rinsewater! At $15 for this production, I used plenty, and rinsed that tank out until the output was commendably clear. Filling the freshwater tank went without a hitch.
I got back to the ranch too late to do much besides put the groceries away, so I decided to relax and resume my normal end-of-day routine. All the bedding had been freshly washed, and since the mattress and support platform must be torn out to get access to the water pump, I just left that and slept on the couch.
Today, the pump did turn out to be the culprit, so in went the new. I had dreaded the work, since I have (from decades of experience) an extreme reluctance to break into any hydraulic, gas, or water lines in house or on car. Whatever can go wrong does, and there I am with open lines, usually when the stores or parts sources are closed. Today, I had pictured an incomplete tank evacuation, and having to mop up a steady flow of water. Not so! Nothing came out the opened connections, and the whole thing went like clockwork. I was even able to eliminate a rather crazy assembly of elbows and frozen shutoff valves on the pump’s inlet side. I’m still not sure what the purpose of the shutoff valve was, because even if it hadn’t frozen over time, the pump could not be removed and replaced without first breaking the supply line to the tank before it ever got to the valve. What-ever! The vibrations of the road might lend a new story later, but once installed and assembled with much simpler connections that came with the pump, there was no hint of a leak anywhere. Nice. And the new pump is not only quieter than the old, but doesn’t rapidly cycle on and off, dimming the ceiling lights. Who knows? Now maybe I can fill a pan with water or flush the toilet without forcing my gizmo that plays movies to crash and lose my place! Nirvana!
That frozen valve in the inlet side looks like a valve to facilitate winterizing the water system. You would turn the valve to shut off the water from the tank and attach a short hose inserted in a jug of antifreeze to draw the antifreeze through the system. Those brass valve were always troublesome …
Thanks for the info, Les. I’m hoping I’m never in a position to have to winterize my own, personally. Not realistic in the long run, but I can dream!