Sump Pump Replacement in Littleton, MA, 01460

“We have a sump pump that lives in an 18 inch hole under the steps of our bulkhead, and it has kept our basement dry for 19 years.  But according to the apparently immutable Law of Nature that plumbing emergencies only occur in the evening of a holiday weekend, we discovered that the pump had died (it was preventing us from flipping its circuit breaker into the “On” position) just before the start of Labor Day weekend—and just before the forecast was calling for a solid week of daily thunderstorms.

After the summer drought, the sump pump hole was bone dry, and it didn’t seem likely to me—or the folks at Basnett—that even a week of 1/4” to 1/2” daily rain accumulations would be enough to bring the level of the groundwater up by 18 inches in a week.  So I scheduled the replacement of the pump for Basnett’s first regular (as opposed to emergency) appointment—a week from Labor Day, and a couple of days after the rain was finally expected to stop.

But I forgot to take into account that the reason our sump pump was so important was that we have a spring running under our foundation—from the corner where the sump pump is to the opposite corner where the furnace and water heater are.  And regardless of how much the overall level of the groundwater rises, a significant amount of any new rainfall flows directly into this spring.

So after the first afternoon/evening of heavy thunderstorms, our sump pump hole had filled up to less than 6 inches below the surface of our basement floor.  An even heavier rain storm was forecast for the next afternoon.  It was now clear that without a new sump pump, we not only weren’t going to keep our basement dry until our regular appointment, but we might not make it through the next day.

Unfortunately, “the next day” was Sunday of Labor Day weekend. So I called Basnett back on Saturday evening to see if there was ANY way we could get an emergency appointment to have our pump replaced sometime on Sunday.  And they asked me if 8 AM was OK.

The person who Basnett sent to spend his holiday Sunday morning swapping out our sump pump was Bob DuBuque.  We had, of course, jumped on the 8 AM time slot, but that left barely an hour before my wife and I were supposed to be at choir rehearsal for that morning’s church service—which I had made Basnett aware of.

So the first thing that Bob did that was over and above was to arrive at 7:30 AM (after warning us with a text/email), which allowed him to finish swapping out the sump pump while still allowing us to get to church on time—despite the fact that because the sump pump lives under our bulkhead stairway, replacing it requires removing two of the steps, working from UNDER the stairway, and then replacing the steps after the pump is finished.

Despite the time crunch, Bob was personable and friendly throughout his visit, clearly explaining what needed to be done, and patiently answering all of our questions.

Before he left, Bob informed us that he was a bit concerned about the 7-year-old check valve above the pump.  It had dripped when he first turned on the new pump.  But it had stopped dripping upon further testing, so he hoped it would be OK.  Unfortunately, with the ongoing rain continuously filling the hole with water and the pump running almost continuously to keep the level of the water below our basement floor, the pump shifted slightly inside its hole over the next 24 hours, and the slight angle from vertical that the pump ended up at put a strain on a weak spot in the check valve’s seal—which had presumably caused the original drip when Bob first turned on the new pump.  So while the new pump kept our basement dry for the next 24 hours, by Labor Day evening the check valve was spewing water all over the inside of our bulkhead every time the pump ran.  Which led to my Labor Day evening call to Basnett to see how soon they could get someone here to diagnose and fix this new problem.

So Bob came back, at noon on Tuesday, to once again remove our bulkhead steps, figure out why the pump had shifted, and discover the weak spot in the check valve seal that the shift had worsened.  He installed a new check valve—and charged us only for the cost of the valve, NOT for the second emergency visit. And last, but not least, when Bob reassembled our bulkhead steps for the second time, he used special cement screws that would anchor the steps to the sides of the bulkhead, thus rendering them significantly more steady than the wobbly state they had been in when he first arrived.

My wife and I have lived in our house for 32 years, and for most of that time, we had our “regular plumber”, on whom we relied for most of the many plumbing issues that a 60-year-old house accumulates in that number of years.  But on the occasions when our plumber couldn’t make it in time when we had an emergency, we had always called Basnett.  Their prices were higher—particularly for emergencies—but they were rock solid reliable, NEVER failing to send us help when no one else could, and they invariably did good, durable work.

But our long-term plumber retired during COVID, and we decided to use our need this summer to replace our water heater (and the leaking expansion tank over it) to put out bids to four area plumbers—looking not just for someone to replace our water heater, but for someone to be our new “regular plumber”.  Basnett was the only one of the four with whom we had previously done business. Their prices are high—though not the highest of the four.  But we had experience of their reliability—which was further put to the test by both our evacuation pump and our sump pump failing during the time we were putting out bids for the water heater—both of which we turned to Basnett to help us with.  In the end, our experiences with Basnett’s handling of our two summer emergencies clinched our decision to make Basnett our new “regular plumbers”.

In fact, the last thing Bob did for us during his first visit was to recheck the original estimate we had received for the water heater and expansion tank when Phinias Muchirahondo and Wayne Lambert came to replace our failed evacuation pump last spring. That initial estimate had expired while I was seeking estimates from the other three local plumbing companies for comparison.  Bob’s re-estimation of that job was as thorough—and again accompanied by a patient answering of all our questions—as his work on the sump pump had been.  And Phinias is coming tomorrow to install the water heater and expansion tank.

Meanwhile, thanks to Bob, we now have years to come of not having to worry about our basement flooding…  Except when the storm kills the power.  Hmmm… Bob mentioned that Basnett was considering getting into the business of installing generators—and they have their own electrician to work with the plumber to install it. Maybe that will be NEXT summer’s project…”

– Carl B.