|Massachusetts after 3 blizzards in 3 weeks - another expected on Saturday|
FOUR DAYS & THREE NIGHTS WITHOUT WATER
With all the dire events in the world, I suppose I shouldn't complain, but in the three houses I lived in while I was growing up, we never had a plumbing problem. Through 20 years in an 1830 house where the plumbing was probably laid on around the turn of the 20th century, we never had a plumbing problem. Through 25 years in Venice, Florida, in a house built in the early '70s, we never had a plumbing problem. But here in the suburbs of Orlando in a house built in the late '70s, I have just had my life turned upside down. Believe me, it is an experience you do not want to endure.
On Sunday night I was getting ready for bed when I noticed a dark patch on the bedroom carpet by the bathroom door. It squished when I walked on it. Oh-oh. I soon discovered a damp patch in my walk-in closet as well. Needless to say, I didn't sleep well. Of course, by morning it was much worse. I called the plumber immediately, but in spite of the emergency situation, there was no plumber at the door in the next few hours. Meanwhile, my son-in-law came over to turn off the water and had to dig out the meter box, which is underground near the street and had filled with dirt since the last time it was used. Afraid to damage the meter, he ended up digging it out with his hands. (NO ONE should have water meters like this!) My daughter called a water-damage cleaner she knew, and they were there for hours before the plumber showed up, doing a really great job. (The cleaners, that is.) In a very short time I had half a carpet in my bedroom, no baseboards, no clothes and other storage in my closet, even the pictures gone from my walls.) And the bedroom and bathroom were stuffed with giant fans, heaters, and suction equipment.
Plumber's diagnosis - a "slab leak"; i.e., somewhere below the cement. Hard to tell where. Solution: find & fix the leak, but the pipes could spring another leak almost immediately, or re-plumb the entire house. But this was Monday and they couldn't re-plumb 'til Friday. (You've got to be kidding!) My daughter scrambled to get in touch with the plumber who works on their rehabs. The cleaners left, all was dry in the bathroom, bedroom, and garage. Everything on hold, waiting on which plumber was to do the re-plumb.
In the late afternoon Cassidy came in through the garage entrance, reporting that she'd walked through water. Oops! And sure enough, the water was back, even though the main water meter was turned off. At 7:30 p.m. the cleaner returned, shook his head, did his vacuum thing, and went home.
The next morning, the puddles were back. I called the water company, who promptly sent out a man who seemed able to get the water meter truly shut down. The cleaner came back again. The new plumber arrived in the midst of all this, shook his head, did some prep work, and promised they'd start the re-plumb on Wednesday morning and I'd have water by 5:00 p.m. Somewhere in the midst of the chaos, the insurance adjustor came by. (Haven't heard the verdict on that yet.) And then . . . more puddles appeared. I had the water man back for a second time and all seemed well. Again.
On Wednesday the plumbers were doing fine until about four o'clock when the man in charge (not the boss) told me they could not find the main connector to the house. They'd been digging and digging and only finding the two irrigation lines, not the main to the house! Yikes. So at 5:00 p.m. they promised they would be back in the morning and I'd have water by noon.
I gritted my teeth and prepared for a third night in the guest room. Except near midnight while I was clearing all the stuff from the closet and closet floor (umpteen years of old slides in square boxes) that was piled on the bed, my feet went "squish." Oh no! Now I had water in the guest room. To shorten a very long story, at one time on Thursday afternoon, parked in front of my house were: the plumbers' truck, the master plumber's truck, the cleaner's truck, and the water company truck. With nearly a football team of men standing over my underground water meter by the curb shaking their heads. The master plumber informed me he'd been at it 25 years and never seen anything like it. A remark echoed by his helpers.
And by the way, if you're wondering what one does when men are working in both bathrooms, thank goodness my daughter lives only two blocks away!
In the end, before the plumbers could complete their work, the water company had to install two new meters at the curb, one for the house, one for irrigation. Only then did the water stop leaking and messing up everyone's hard efforts. Orange County Utilities actually admitted to being the villain of the piece. Sigh. So by around 5:00 on Thursday I finally had water again. Hallelujah!
I also have a bedroom with half a carpet, no baseboards, and various holes in closet and bathroom walls. More holes in the guest room closet behind the guest bathroom. The clothes and slides from the guestroom closet are still stacked all over the house while we wait for the cleaner's fan to do its job (estimate - Monday), plus the steady drip of some kind of water vacuum draining into my guest room sink. Also, my lawn has been dug up from the curbside meter to the house. And in various other places as the plumbers replaced four outdoor faucets. Aargh!
But no more than grumbling from me. I HAVE WATER!
The moral of the story: At the first sign of an in-house leak beyond a dripping faucet, consider that your house might need re-plumbing and do it before you end up with a disaster like mine.
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