Maybe Your Overflow Switch is Stuck

Since the beginning of the calendar year, there have been several inexplicable events in our household related to water. These instances all had one thing in common: blockages. Actually, there were was something else in common–there was no logical explanation.

In January, when it is normally very cold, the temperature outside surpassed 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Coupled with unseasonably warm temperatures was an abundance of rain. Living in an area with a high water table means pumping water out of the basement crawl space pretty much every time it rains. The system that does this is relatively new. For whatever reason, the pump was running, but no water would flow. If someone wasn’t around to hear the loud exertion noise of the pump running nonstop, the motor would’ve eventually overheated and stopped working. Though the source of the problem was never identified, the issue was resolved by loosening one of the threaded joints in the piping. Water sprayed out, and the blockage, which appeared to be nothing more than air, was gone.

In less than a week, another blockage occurred. This time, it was in a shower drain that had been replaced only one year ago. There was no apparent obstruction, and every other drain in the house was functioning properly; the problem was isolated. With a little plunging, the obstruction, which also appeared to be nothing more than air, was gone.

Fast forward a few months. Life was stagnant and so was the water in the dishwasher. While someone was unloading clean dishes, the dishwasher drain system started up by itself while the door was open. After several attempts to reset the appliance, the problem continued. There was nothing in the instruction manual or installation instructions that could explain what was happening.

In order to fix the dishwasher, it had to be completely removed. This required stripping back floor molding under the base of two sets of cabinets, removing a kick plate protecting the lower portion of the dishwasher, and disconnecting the water supply line. The dishwasher had to be gently pulled out of a very tight opening. Fortunately, there was no water under the dishwasher! The problem was “contained.”

Using advice from an online troubleshooting forum, the dishwasher was tilted 45 degrees forward to let any excess water in the base drain. Then, a little red object that looks like a solid straw on the side of the dishwasher was “jiggled” to make sure it wasn’t stuck.

This little red piece of plastic had a very important job. It was supposed to make sure the dishwasher never flooded. If there was too much water accumulating inside, the red switch would engage and tell the dishwasher to keep pumping water out but not allow any new water to enter. But if the switch gets stuck, the only response from the dishwasher is to pump out water nonstop. As long as the dishwasher is turned on, the water pump runs. It doesn’t matter if the door is open or closed. It doesn’t matter if every button on the control panel is pushed. The only response is to evacuate.

So why does any of this matter? Because none of these situations are simple plumbing inconveniences. They are signs. They are spiritual events that occur to show us what is happening in our lives. They don’t necessarily help us understand how to fix the problem; they simply make us aware of a need that is not being addressed. Sometimes the problems we need to solve aren’t conveniently answered by an operating manual. We may need to peel back layers, examine, and gently pull away until we can see more clearly and understand.

For the past few months, life has been stagnant. There has been considerable effort, to the point of near burnout, to maintain the flow of life. The pump runs nonstop, but there is no flow. There are blockages, blockages we cannot see or identify, but they are there. They burn us out until eventually we drown because the water is flowing in faster than we can remove it. If, by the grace of God, we are able to see the signs before the flood, we can address the blockages instead of wasting energy and time trying to pump harder.

Is your overflow switch stuck? Is your pump running nonstop to the point of overheating? Is the water filling up the space around you when it should be going down the drain? Don’t ignore the signs before it’s too late.

©, May 7, 2018

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