Batten Down the Hatches

Irene is coming, and it’s panic time in Pennsylvania. People are stocking up on water, and sizing up the family pets just in case it gets really bad. Based on media reports, so far, zombies are certain to follow in the path of the storm. Despite the media hysteria, I am taking on some preparation, but mostly for lots of rain and enough wind to stand a high probability of knocking out power.

Cleaned out all the gutters and downspouts, in the hopes that a clear path for water away from the house could buy me some pump capacity, and time if we start running on batteries. I used to go up on the roof with my mom or dad all the time to do these kinds of tasks, and didn’t think much of it. Now I have to admit I was fairly terrified throwing one foot over the ladder onto the roof, and then the other. The reverse was even worse. Like a cat who climbed up a tree and then can’t get down, I stayed up there a couple of minutes while I worked up the nerve to get back on the ladder from the roof. But hey, the alternative is hanging out of my roof for a few days while I watch a tropical storm come in. It’s not so much the height itself that bothers me, so much as the fear of falling. I know I’m not as sure on my feet as I was at 14 or 15.

The backup pump is supposed to be good for six hours, but I’m not sure I’d count on it. There are no generators or batteries left in the area, so in the event of a protracted power outage, we’re going to use the car’s batteries for the sump pump, and use the cars the recharge them. I may just see if we can run the car’s alternator output right in to run the pump.

In the event we lose power, the blog only has an hour or so of battery. If we go offline this weekend, you’ll know why. We’re well stocked on the important things, like hooch. Food wise, I’m going to smoke a Boston Butt in anticipation of Irene’s arrival.

It’s times like this I’m glad we have New Jersey between us and the sea, so it may act as nature’s punching bag on our behalf. Thanks guys!

UPDATE: I think I just bought the last marine deep cycle battery in Southeastern Pennsylvania. I should have enough battery to last me through anything, provided the DC pump can keep up with the storm. I have enough juice, hooch, and BBQ to last me… wish me luck.

14 thoughts on “Batten Down the Hatches”

  1. We’ll I wont have a clue if you fall off line. I’m going to be busy all weekend and thus away from my computer. I have no doubt you’ll make it through and I’ve got my fingers crossed and praying for you to just skate through.

    I know the height issue as well. Used to climb all the time on my roof, even would jump off onto my trampoline growing up. I now am very adverse to ladders. I don’t know why I dislike heights so much, but I do. I think it’s cause I remember the last time I broke my legs, it sucks.

    I hope your job hunt turns out a bit better. The wife certainly feels your pain. She at least finally got two interviews last week. The third unplanned was quite annoying.

  2. Hope you stay safe out there.

    And I totally understand the roof thing. I felt the same way, a couple of years ago, when I had to climb up onto my roof for the first time to fix a wobbly vent. I’m definitely not the climbing monkey I was when I was a kid. I’m going to have to work to change that.

  3. I hope your life is not interesting this weekend. Stay safe. I had the same issue with ladders and Christmas lights a few years back when I decided to decorate our (then new to us) house. I’ve gotten the hang of it since then. I don’t know where the kid went that jumped off of bridges, climbed trees and used improvised zip lines with such abandon.

  4. When I have to work on the roof I take a rope with me. It has a loop on one end that goes around the chimney, and knots in it at intervals to make it easy to hang onto it.

  5. pumps usually draw pretty heavy. You’d need a big inverter. It’s better to run a DC pump, and I have one down there. I just need enough juice to keep it running.

  6. A deep cycle marine battery has been acquired. It should serve my needs. Now the big question is whether this storm can dole out more water than the DC pump can handle. That is a possibility. It’s a 1000 GPH pump.

  7. Its not something to strongly recommend as it mixes plugs, but depending on the draw, you could run a regular extension cord from the car to the pump. Take the heaviest extension cord that will reach, and cut the female plug off about 3′ from the end, strip it back and run it to ground on the frame and battery lead on the alternator. run the rest of the cord to your pump. check the rating of the cord (stamped in the rubber, usually) to see if it will handle the draw, but you can overrun electrical cords pretty heavily without damage, in the short term. As long as you only plug it into the car when you need it (remembering that the male plug will be live, if there is a battery in the pump), and disconnect it as soon as the danger is gone. Having a 110VAC plug on a 12VDC supply would be futile, and having a 110VAC cord on a 12VDC appliance would be messy if someone didn’t know whats what. Good luck out there.

    When I was a kid in MT we used to lose power all the time, usually in the winter. We always had a decorative oil lamp around, and lots of flashlights. A bathtub full of water was always a great comfort as well.

  8. The battery backup pump I have charges the battery continuously when AC power is on. This cooks the water out of the battery. I don’t remember to do monthly battery checks so before vacation or a storm event I check the battery and top of liquid levels. Yesterday the battery was dry and would run the pump for five seconds. I refilled the battery and it seems to hold a charge now.

    We lost power for four days following Hurricane Isabel in 2004. One deep cycle battery was sufficient although I obtained another just in case. My basement sump runs continuously but the sump pump cycles as the water level rises in the sump and gets pumped out. Although the pump battery combination is rated for six hours of continuous use, it might only run one minute every five minutes, extending the battery life to 30 to 40 hours. YMMV

    A sealed battery jump pack used to jump start a car is a good investment and handy to have around anytime. The battery pack can be used to run the sump pump while charging the deep cycle battery off of the car.

  9. When it comes to transitions from ladders to the tops of high places and back, I’ve *always* been nervous. But then, I’ve always been a bit nervous of any heights that have even a hint of “this could fall from underneath me”.

    Having said that, as a teenager, I liked climbing out of my window and onto my garage roof; I think I even climbed from there to the top of the house a time or two. The latter gave me the willies, though, because I would then have to climb back down onto the tip of a slanted roof.

    On the other hand, I remember once doing something to make my brother mad, and to get away from him, I jumped through the window and off the roof–not onto the porch (I’ve made that jump dozens of times), but straight onto the sidewalk instead–at least six feet! My shins hurt on landing, but I continued to run…and, as I recall, my brother didn’t follow me after that.

    Needless to say, I would *never* make such a jump again! (Well, maybe I would, if it was a life-and-death situation…)

  10. I ended up getting an 800 watt inverter and a marine battery; but the spare pump I have is AC, not DC. It also pumps not quite 1500 gph nominal and only drops to 1000 gph at a 10 ft lift, which I’m not getting close to.

    Checked that the car’s battery will run it, figure that means that I can run the thing off the motor as well…

  11. Since I managed to break a foot-bone jumping off a deck onto the driveway apron (10-15 feet or so) in dress shoes, I’ve been a little more circumspect about heights.

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