Apr 29, 2013

The Great House Flood of 2013

Once upon a time (or three weeks ago, today) I ventured out one late afternoon (two Mondays ago at 4:15pm) to meet my dear husband after work to lavish ourselves at a fine local clothier (Burlington Coat Factory). It was a day like any other for this stay at home (to work) wife; I (was supposed to have) worked out in the morning, then showered (in the afternoon). I spent the day (considering) doing laundry and washing (some of) the dishes.

Pleased (to be getting out of the house), I shut the dog in his crate (to protect him of his suicidal tendencies) and left the house. Everything was in it's place (where we set it down instead of putting it away) when I embarked on my journey. Nothing could have hinted to what we were to discover upon our return (but the title is a pretty solid hint for you).

Orange Cat in a Box
This was from that day, and has been the first and only time he's ever climbed into one of these boxes. It must have been a very unclear sign.

[If I may, I'm going to just start telling you what happened now in a not-so-clever way, because those first two paragraphs were exhausting to write.]

Jamie and I dug around Burlington Coat Factory for a while trying to put together an outfit for him to wear to a wedding that weekend. While doing so, we had been asked via text to join our buddy Jarrod at a local spot for happy hour. There must have been some kind of cosmic imbalance in the universe on this day which had caused us to pass and head straight home after the disappointment that was the BCF. Come to think of it, that shopping trip was the only time we had ever left that store empty-handed, so we should have known something was up. 

We drove home, Jamie leading our two-car caravan. Only an hour since I had left the house, we pulled up to the garage. Jamie clicked the clicker to open the door but it stopped about a foot off the ground. He looked back at me in my car thinking that this had become a game of Clicker Wars, but I just shrugged. Then we noticed it: the rushing river (this is only kind of an exaggeration; it was a lot of water) flowing out from under our slightly-open garage door. 

My first thought was that the washer, which lives in the garage, had gone haywire... but then I remembered that I had only considered doing laundry that day. My quick thought was interrupted by a panic; what the f'k do we do!?

The garage door was stuck, so we drove off in opposite directions to park our cars and sprint to the front door, Jamie only beating me by a second or two. In this second, after having discounted the washing machine option, I imagined a waterfall in the middle of my house. See, the kitchen and dining room are on the second floor, and overlook the living room below so I thought that maybe I left the sink running? But then I remembered that I didn't even turn the sink on before I left.

Artist's rendering, except not-Christmas.
Jamie quickly unlocked the front door and through to the garage to shut off the water. It was at this time that I realized that there is no waterfall in our living room and everything appeared dry. Confused by the sound of an Amazonian downpour, I ran upstairs to investigate. A quick glance to the kitchen sink confirmed that it was not the culprit. By the time I turned the corner to check the guest bathroom, Jamie had gotten the water shut off.

A large area surrounding this bathroom had no standing water, but the carpet was thoroughly soaked. I looked inside to find that every inch of this bathroom, from floor to ceiling, was dripping. I looked up and saw a hole in the ceiling and immediately concluded with my husband upon his joining me upstairs that a pipe had burst. He immediately got on the phone while I trekked back downstairs to see if I could go for a swim in our garage.

With the door open and the water having already rushed out, there was still quite a bit of standing water on the floor. The ceiling on the back half of the garage was dripping so constantly that it was like rain. The photo below is only a fraction of the damage.

house flood

After an hour or so, we finally got a plumber in our house to assess the damage. What he found was that there was no pipe in the ceiling that even existed in that area to burst, but upon further investigation, found that it wasn't a pipe at all. It was a $15 part to our toilet: the water supply line that bends from the wall to the tank had broken and shot an estimated 100 gallons of water up at the ceiling, creating the hole that we found.

broken toilet supply line

The next day we found exactly how much the water had affected. They set up fans and dehumidifiers in the house and planned demo for the following day. The second floor bathroom, where it happened, had to have the toilet and sink and mirror taken out and the lower quarter of the drywall torn down; the drywall in the guest bedroom closet and near the walls of the door had to be torn down about a foot off the ground; the first floor bathroom had to be mostly gutted; and about half of the garage drywall had to be torn out.

ServPro fans and dehumidifier

Let's go back to the fans for a moment. We had about 15 machines running in the house, 24/7. Because of the dehumidifiers, we had to keep the windows closed so as to not affect their job. These machines create so much hot air, the house was miserable. When it came time to demo, the house was 96 degrees. While already concerned about our electric bill, we were told we could keep the air conditioning on but set somewhere in the 80's to keep it livable.

ServPro fans and dehumidifier

On the following Friday, just as we were about to walk out the door to head to New York, we're told by the guy checking the fan progress that now our water heater is leaking. I, of course, started stressing out; we had a plane to catch! To keep any more disasters at bay, we had the water to the heater and the gas turned off while we were gone.

The guys still needed access to the house while we were gone to manage the fans, so Jamie's brother Mike was kind enough to let them in when they needed. On one of these occasions, they found that, oh hey, guess what, the HVAC unit is also leaking. We had a lot to come home to.

So, to wrap this long story up, it's been deduced that all three of these leaks were caused by our water pressure being too high. And because of this, three weeks later, we're still dealing with the aftermath. Yesterday they finished the drywall, today they're puttying, tomorrow they'll texturize the walls, Wednesday they'll sand it. Hopefully it can get painted and the bathrooms can be reinstalled by this weekend and then maybe we can get back to normal. Oh, but wait, there's still the issue of the carpet, which needs replacing.

(I just really want to not have to walk up to the third story every time I have to pee.)

Luckily for us, none of our personal belongings were affected by the water. Oh, and if you're wondering, yes, this is going to cost a shit-ton. We rent, though, so it's not coming out of our pocket. Hooray for that.


  1. Well, thank goodness you rent! I'd hate to have to pay that bill. and here I thought the time I flooded the kitchen was bad! :/

  2. The perks of renting, huh? In all seriousness though, it's terrifying to think that a $15 piece could cause that much trouble. I do hope that the water pressure was already set to normal because it puts your pipelines at risk for bursting. Fixing a leak caused by a damaged pipe is more tolerable than conducting a pipeline system overhaul. And I wish the leak didn't cause molds and rotting inside the house.


  3. It feels a little frustrating when your house was flooded when you least expect it. But these things happen, and just be thankful that no important stuff and appliances were soaked and damaged. I think you should try turning off the main spigot of your water tank so that you can avoid this kind of scenario next time.


  4. Your guts will tell you when something is wrong. I bet this cost the owner a lot. That ceiling stain looks bad. Well, this could have been avoided if such leaks were not ignored in the first place. Remember that next time. PS: I find the waterfall artistic. http://www.morefloods.com/system.asp