Disaster Success Story, Thanks Vera3

Hi All,

Thought I would share a disaster success story with everyone, thanks to zwave and vera3.

We bought our house end of Oct 2013. The house was built and finished end of 2012/2013. Since we moved in, I’ve put in a vera3 and have been expanding our zwave devices. There have been a bunch of ups/downs with installs… such as old Schlage firmware that was not compatible with vera3, and random nuisance type issues, where I didn’t fully trust the system. It Works, but didn’t trust some things.

That all changed Friday. It’s spring in Massachusetts, snow is melting, driveway is muddy, and you always fear of a water issue. We’ve had a bunch of “water days” already and no problems except in the driveway.

Came home from work Friday afternoon, started the pellet stove, kicked up the feet and cracked a beer. Phone sitting next to me, a Vera3 alert through the iOS app pushover came through. “Basement Utility Room Leak Detected!!”

I was just in the basement starting the pellet stove, and didn’t notice anything down the hallway, I should have. I ran downstairs, started walking down the hallway to the utility room, and I’m stepping in water. Walked into the utility room, 1-2 inches of water and increasing fast. The water was coming from the bottom of the breaker panel!!! I was already in the water and I was not being electrocuted, I made a decision to hit the plastic switch of the main on the breaker. I did, and still alive. Questionable move, but that’s what I did.

Water coming out of the breaker panel was above the foundation, mounted on a board, so that meant it had to be coming from above it. I figured it was coming from a faulty gutter rolling water down the walls. Grabbed the ladder and went up, checked around nothing. Had the wife check the room below the gutter for a leak, nothing. Went back down to the utility room, took in a broader view. Noticed there was a pinhole leak of water shooting out of the junction box for the well pump, that leads into the bottom of the breaker panel?!

Started to unscrew the top of the junction box, water started pouring out. Water is coming from the electrical conduit from the well. Took off the cover enough to control the water into buckets that we could pour out the window.

Ran outside to the well. The well is located about 20ft above grade of the house. Melting snow / rain had been flowing down the street, and pooling right above our well on its way down grade. I quickly got a shovel and created a trench in the ice to divert the water away from the well opening. The wife who was bailing buckets said it instantly stopped.

We called 911 when it first happened. They wouldn’t send the fire department. They told us to call an electrician. We made calls to family to come help, they came, and we called 911 again. Again, a refusal to come - “call an electrician, if it catches fire, call back and we will send the fire department”. My father called his neighbor, former fire department chief, and 45 minutes later we had the FD chief come to assess. By that time water was diverted, and we were sucking up all the water. It was over.

I’m good friends with an Electrician, and he showed up before the FD chief. We had the top of the well off, and the problem was clear as day. The electrical conduit was only an inch off the ground. When ice built up, and heavy water, it went straight in. Poor installation. Water traveled down the conduit since it was higher ground, and came out lower where it could, the breaker box. Water never made it to the breakers, luckily the port into the box was at the bottom. LUCKY.

Who knows how long the water would have traveled into the house if vera3 / pushover and the Lowes TST01-1 (re-branded Everspring) did not alert us.

We ended up extending the well casing and conduit up the next day to prevent further problems. We received 3+ inches of rain over night, and no problem. We had a huge mud flow move in with the water that night, if we didn’t fix the well, it would have been brutal.

Carpets are dying, Well service was expensive, and I owe my buddy the electrician.

Thanks Vera3, Pushover, and Everspring.

Here’s a few pics -

Well and electrical conduit (BEFORE)-

Location of leak detector, panel (leak detector below panel was taken at the time of the pic, going to add a second just to cover more area)

Extended well lining and electrical, and flood the day after. we got lucky. -

Glad to hear you’re ok.

But if that is brand new construction, sounds like the builder should be on the hook for any costs of remediating the problem. It was clearly planned poorly and I wonder if it was within code.

But most importantly, you’re ok :slight_smile:

If anything I would put it on the well company. But from what I hear from the neighbor, the owner moved topsoil around after, and probably made it level with the well.

A problem that would only happen this spring. (I hope they didn’t know about this before!)

The system worked great, and we got lucky!

Yep. In MA here too. The weather has been plain stupid all winter. Even though I deal mostly in energy efficiency improvements, the majority of my work these past months has been bulk water remediation.

There are so many things wrong with your pictures from both a common sense perspective as well as code violations. Where in MA are you that such faulty wiring passes inspection? Everywhere I’ve been (Boston area and Now Pioneer valley/Franklin County) you couldn’t get an occupancy permit for your house. Both the electric and fire finals would fail that conduit. And who the hell uses conduit for a well? Apparently the electrician didn’t know that there is direct burial wire. If I could only deal with such “lax” code officials I could build much more energy efficient houses! Since the code is at least 20 years behind current building science. ::slight_smile:

Clue story. But I have two questions.

  1. What’s a water day?

  2. How is it legal to have the well casing so close to ground level, as in picture one? That’s how wells and aquifers become contaminated, surface water and chemical runoff pour down the well. That can’t be legal.

@ Z-Waver,

It’s not legal anywhere in MA. And I mean ANYWHERE. You can’t get away with that in the most back woods middle of nowhere here. There are other things going on there which aren’t legal either. Most of the code violations aren’t even of the type you can slip by the lazy or friendly inspector.

What interests me most is how any of this passed an inspection.

I extended the coverage of my everspring flood detector using a “tape sensor” that was leftover from another project using a hard wired flood sensor.

Don’t know if similar tape sensors are available in other parts of the world but it seems to set of the everspring quite nicely if I put something damp on the tape.

this is what the tape looks like (unfortunately information only in Finnish)-> http://www.sahkobit.fi/verkkokauppa/teippianturi-kosteusvahtiin-pituus-fla210002-p-992.html

We’re out in Western MA.

I completely agree the way it was should have never passed inspection. I’m betting it was inspected before the topsoil was moved and leveled out around the top of the conduit.

Water Days, as in days where there are huge drainage problems due to frozen ground and lots of rain / melting snow.

We did chlorinate the well after, and will be doing a sample later this week to see where we’re at.

It could have been way worse if I didn’t have that water sensor!

May I ask which county?