The Water Pump
Posted on October 18, 2020
Our water ran out a couple days ago. We’d already been bumming water from libraries and public buildings because our tank water still tasted like sanitizer, but running out meant we couldn’t even wash our dishes. Because we were in Salt Lake City (where we knew nobody), we couldn’t just fill up our tank from someone’s hose. And with COVID control rather prevalent in SLC, we didn’t feel comfortable approaching random people and asking them to use their water.
Combine all of this with the fact that our electricity was (probably) running low, and that we hadn’t had a legitimate shower in more than a week, we figured it was time to set up at a campground.
We drove west from SLC through the Bonneville Salt Flats, which were pretty fun to explore, even in the dark. After that, we headed into Nevada.
One of the big things we’ve learned about state borders is that they’re actually quite accurate. As soon as we passed from Utah into Nevada, the feel of the landscape changed. Specifically, it went from salt flats to mountains and casinos.
After driving uphill for what felt like an hour, we ended up at our chosen campground in Wells, Nevada. We chose Crossroads RV Park because it was $30 a night for full hookups. They also had showers, which was a nice touch.
So we got right to it and hooked up the electricity and water to our camper. After getting a little bit of water in the tank, we ran the sink and saw that it was almost purely sanitizer. Deciding that it was time to try and get rid of the sanitizer once and for all, we ran the sink for a while, periodically filling the water tank with small amounts of water to keep it running.
This seemed to be a good method of flushing the sanitizer through the pipes, at least initially. After a while, though, the sound of the pump changed. It went from the regular “low” pump sound to a fainter “high” note. And then water stopped flowing from the faucet altogether.
This was not our desired outcome. We finally had access to water, and now there was no way to use it. Naturally, we went to bed instead of fixing the issue – maybe time would fix it.
The following morning, though, the problem remained the same. I did some scouting for solutions on google and came across quite a few blog posts instructing me on how to remove the pipes and the pump and clear any blockages. This wasn’t too pleasing to me – I didn’t feel like spending my Sunday morning damaging our water system beyond reasonable repair.
Finally, after half an hour of blog crawling, I came across a thread from 2007 with a solution that seemed dumb enough for me to try: “Try putting your mouth around the kitchen faucet and sucking in until you get water. Thats usually all it takes to get mine running again”. So I lined up my head with our faucet and tried making some suction.
This experience wasn’t pleasant. The water in the pipes tasted like a combination of heavy metals and industrial sanitizer. After a couple minutes of inhaling and washing the taste out with leftover Miller High Life from the night before, I finally took a drag off the pipe that felt different. The pump caught, and the water started flowing again.
So there’s the moral of the story: if your water pump is running but isn’t pumping water, just suck on your kitchen sink for a couple minutes. Also be sure to have an adequate taste-washing liquid nearby.