Oil & water

First a plug to the folks at Lyons Fuel. This morning I get a knock on my bedroom door that the boiler quit working (no heat / cold showers); the gauge on the tank read almost empty (I don’t really trust the gauge), so I assumed the tank ran all the way empty and the oil pump sucked some air and quit. Some frobbing of the reset button wasn’t getting us anywhere. I called the oil company to refill the tank (which should be automatic); they said they’d send someone out that afternoon to bleed the line. I sent out an email and ducked out of work, expecting to appear at the house for 5min. to unlock the door, get the serviceman in and out, and scurry back to the office. Turns out it wasn’t air at all; when the level got low it sucked all the years of accumulated sludge from the bottom of the tank into the filter and pipe; it was pretty much completely clogged. Anyway, this guy put in a Herculean effort of changing the filters (no improvement), back-blowing the oil pipe with paintball-style CO2 cartridges and even replacing the nozzle inside the burner. Then he pulled the top off (“whoa, the top comes off?!” -me) and scraped/scrubbed down the manifold with a crowbar-like metal rod followed by a large bottle brush. In other words, a full-on inspection / maintenance service. Long story short, it now works beautifully! Apparently this (annual inspection/cleaning) is included with the oil service at no additional charge, which is sweet.

While down there, I noticed the sump pump wsa working overtime and there was the sound of a steady tricke of water streaming into the sump pump hole from the great outdoors. I was told to expect this, particularly in this neck of Medford (due to various factors, including a collapsed storm pipe under the street and one or more storm drains simply paved over during street repairs, the water doesn’t have much of anywhere to go except peoples’ basements). Anyway, it rained like a bitch all day and snowed like a bitch all the night before, so I didn’t think too much of this.

Sometime after I got back to work, I went down to the production lab to snatch the hardware I left in the thermal chamber. When I got there water was creeping across the floor and the two production folks were scouring around for some buckets. It turns out our building’s parking lot on the south side is pretty much the lowest point in town. The parking lot by the loading docks was well over a foot or two deep with water (rain + snowmelt) flooding in from the nearby railroad tracks and created this huge vortex at the nearest sewer hole. (At least I think it’s a sewer hole, we’ll find out tomorrow if the parking lot just collapsed into a sinkhole or whatever.) So the production lab ended up flooded by about 4-6 inches; water was pouring in right from the walls, we found one sump pump and set it up, but it wasn’t enough to cope with what was flooding in. We’ve most likely lost a few expensive pieces of equipment to water damage, as well as a whole lot of documents stored in file cabinets. I have some shoes and pants sitting on a radiator right now since they’re now soaked. In the stairwell, there was a small hole in the wall where a nice stream of water was shooting out about 4ft., as if an invisible man was standing with his back against the wall taking the most forceful piss ever. I got some nice pictures of the “event”, which I will download tomorrow when my work machine stops acting lame :-)

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