Friday, April 9, 2010

Replace is NOT one of the Three R's

We've had a bit of excitement here at the nanofarm. Two days ago, the sump pump alarm for our septic system started blaring. Just for clarification, most septic systems use gravity to drain the excess water in the leach field, but the grade in our yard was not steep enough, and so we had to have a pumping station installed, which pumps the water from the septic tank into the leach field.

The only time the alarm should go off is when the water level in the pumping station gets too high, and if it's too high, that means that both the septic tank (1000 gallons) and the pumping station are full. The alarm was kind of a fail-safe measure, and it seems that it was a good thing we have it, because we wouldn't have known anything was wrong until the liquid started coming up in the yard ... or worse, backed up into the house (in the bathtub or shower, which is what happened when our septic system failed a few years ago).

So, we had the company who pumps our tank every other year, usually in the fall, come and check things out for us. Both tanks were full of water, which means the pump was not working. After the guy pumped out both tanks, he told us to give the office a call the next morning to schedule a technician to come out and look at the tank. As it turns out, the problem was just a faulty float. Phew! So, it's fixed, and our septic system should be operating properly.

If that were all of the craziness, it would have been no big deal, but around the same time, Deus Ex Machina's three year old desktop PC decided it was done (I freakin' HATE planned obsolescence! - I'm sure it's all a conspiracy to get us to buy more ... and it's working, darn it! - at least where computers are concerned ;).

We'd already intended to replace the desktop computers anyway as part of our plan to reduce our overall energy usage in the hopes that, someday, we'd be able to afford a small power generation system to provide for all of our needs, and so buying a new laptop was not such a big deal, except that Deus Ex Machina really wanted to try to fix the old computer. He hates planned obsolescence, too, and his fick Dich ins knie to the manufacturers is repairing things.

Unfortunately, like my computer, after some trial and error, we believe it is a motherboard issue (same brand of computer), which would be very difficult to fix, given that all of the components on this particular motherboard are soldered to the board, and while I can solder, we don't know which component to remove and replace.

So ... Deus Ex Machina has a new computer, and we're one step closer to reducing our energy usage.

Now, we just have to replace the girls' "school" desktop ... and get rid of the television and VCR and DVD player, and build a cold closet to replace the refrigerator, and ....

I found this fun software today and made my own "change" poster ;). It's got nothing to do with replacing the float on the sump pump or buying a new computer, but it's a fun picture :). What do you think?


  1. I bet you just about had a heart attack when that alarm started blaring. We had ours go off at work, and the staff just about died....they are LOUD!

    Love the pic.

  2. I bet you were really wishing for that outhouse right about the time you found out the sub pump failed.

    I'm glad it's all fixed and I too live the poster/picture.

  3. Hope - not an outhouse, but when we were looking to replace our septic tank back in 2004, I wanted a composting toilet and a graywater system, and if we continue to have or have anymore problems with the septic system, it will just make it all the more bitter that we ended up with what we have rather than what I wanted ;).

    Barefoot - it wasn't so loud, but it was like "what in the heck?"

  4. You know you are my favorite blog so I gave you #1 spot in this award. Find it here:

  5. Whew! Quite a savings that it was the float! Doesn't it always happen that you think you're getting ahead, and then something else goes pffft!

    I noticed that you mentioned a cold closet. Sounds interesting. Is it on the idea of a root cellar, or is the power involved?

  6. Portable graffiti - Thanks for the award! I'm not sure, as a doomer, I deserve a "Sunshine Blog" award, though *grin*.

    Farmgal - a cold closet is kind of like a root cellar, but it's in the house. It does not use power or require ice deliveries, but instead relies on natural cooling. In some very old houses, the cold closets were built so that cool air would come up into the cold closet from the basement or from under the house, and there was a vent at the top of the closet so that the warm air would go out of the roof. I think such a construction would be perfect here in Maine - what with our very cold winters and our very cool (comparatively ;) summers.

    But we plan to keep our freezer, and with a properly built (i.e. well insulated) cold closet, even if it didn't get very cool naturally in the summer, we could put gallons of water in the freezer and then put the ice in the cold closet. During the winter, if it were properly built, we wouldn't need to add ice.

    I think our refrigerator uses a lot more energy than we realize, and I'd like to do away with it - sooner rather than later ;).