Tuesday, June 10, 2014

When It Rains, It Pours (Sometimes Inside the House)

Day One - Saturday

I was cleaning out our refrigerator and emptying a container of old spaghetti sauce down the disposal, when red water began to rise in both sinks.  A moment later, red began pouring onto the kitchen floor from the cabinets under the sink.  I opened the cabinets and promptly got squirted in the face from the descending pipe.  Kit ran in and so did the pups, so they also got spritzed with red; it was a family affair.

 Our kitchen cabinets are white, and now they had a nice,
horror movie motif going on.

It was a pasta disasta!

We were expecting these gals to show up next 


A two hour visit from our handyman revealed close to nothing.  The issue was not with the disposal but deep in the piping which leads to a release drain outside of the house.  The tool needed to further investigate a blockage was unavailable until Monday, so the kitchen was officially closed.

Day Two – Sunday

I heard running water during the night, but in a half-asleep haze I did not investigate and chalked it up to Kit in the restroom.  When I let the pups out on Sunday morning, I discovered a pipe with water flowing at full speed in the backyard.  I learned that this is the emergency release function to the water heater, meaning our poor water heater suffered a stroke overnight and, in her final hours, protected the house by sending the overflow outside instead of flooding our attic.

We had the water heater shut off as well as the pilot light, because we didn’t want to die in a house explosion.  There would be no hot water until the heater was replaced.  I was told, in an extreme case of coincidence, the kitchen plumbing and water heater events are completely separate and unrelated.

Day Three - Monday

It was a stormy morning and rained on and off throughout the day.  I went to an early meeting then returned home to receive the handymen to continue investigating and working on our kitchen and water heater issues.  I helped relocate all of the items from underneath multiple kitchen cabinets, and then I helped relocate all of the items from Kit’s closet in our bedroom, which contains access to the crawlspace underneath the house.

Since the water heater incident was deemed more dire, they mostly focused upon disconnecting and removing it, which took a better part of the afternoon.  Disconnecting and inspecting her is what it would take to obtain a formal pronouncement of death, and she had officially left us.  They connected a hose that ran downstairs into our guest bathtub to drain what remained inside her, then they carried her out.

Since the kitchen was not the area of focus today, it remained closed.  The handyman recommended that we go out for dinner and then brace ourselves for a cold shower, since the new water heater wouldn’t be delivered or installed until tomorrow.

Around 7:30 p.m., I rationalized that it would be in my best interest to attempt that cold shower now rather than trying to deal with it early in the morning.  It was as fun as one might imagine – I had goosebumps in places I didn’t realize were possible.  I finished my shower as quickly as possible, and as I was drying off I heard sprinkling.  I thought it had begun raining again and peeked out of the bathroom window.  The sun was shining and it was dry in the backyard.  So, where was it raining?  In our bedroom, naturally.


Water was quickly filling up the light fixture attached to our fan, and it was raining from the ceiling all over our bedroom.  It rained on my great grandmother’s dresser, mirror, and nightstand.  Our bed was soaked, and so were all of the displaced contents from Kit’s closet from earlier in the day.  I was horrified at the thought of it raining all over the house, but thankfully it appeared to be secluded to our bedroom.

This, my friends, is what you would call a person’s “breaking point”.  I did not get excessively upset when my evening plans got ruined on Saturday from the kitchen sink fiasco.  I did not freak out when I learned the water heater was dying upstairs and jacking up my water bill in the backyard.  But I completely lost my shit when we had to move all of our furniture out of our bedroom as we were being rained on from the attic.  Our first priority was securing a container to collect the water pouring out of the light fixture, then we removed my Nana Fergie’s furniture.  Since it was still sprinkling after all that, we simply threw towels on the floor to protect the hardwoods, and we kept drying them over and over.  The sprinkling finally stopped, and I set up large fans on either side of the room to ensure the floors stayed dry through the night.

One of the handymen came back out close to 9:00 p.m. and revealed that they had failed to close off the water heater connections upstairs.  This caused water to pour in the attic for the duration of my freezing shower, which, in turn, rained down into our bedroom.  He brought fixtures to close off the open connections in the attic, and Kit was then able to take an uncomfortable shower of his own, without incident.

Day Four – Tuesday

Despite my delicious dinner of Valium on Monday night, I had a choppy night of sleep on our living room couch.  When I awoke on Tuesday morning in preparation of the handymen to return, I went to inspect the aftermath of our bedroom.

Before: Unfortunately, I did not have the foresight to
take a "before" photo, so I will simply describe it.
It looked the opposite of the after photos.


After: The ceiling bubbled up and discolored; it looks as though
work had previously been done, judging by the distinctive
white rectangle shape that stands out.

Thankfully, the ceiling will not need to be replaced.  The major concerns were buckling, which it is actually not that severe, and also mold/mildew.  We were expedient in getting airflow circulating through the room and throughout the night, and a warm June evening quickly dried out the attic’s portion of the mess so we should be fine.  They will need to scrape away the paint and resurface then repaint.
Our home is 81 years old, and some of the original cast iron piping was still present in the kitchen behind the walls.  Over the years, it corroded and partially collapsed, which is what caused our plumbing backup.  It has been removed and replaced, and I hear them finishing up in the other room now.
As for the old 50-gallon water heater, she had outlived her five year warranty for an additional 13 years.  The shiny, new one arrived an hour ago and is being installed as we speak.  Let's keep our fingers crossed that it goes well.  As I mentioned previously, we would hate to have gone through all of this only to die in a house explosion.
I'm tired.


  1. Wow! I would have lost it too. Aren't you glad you're renting :)

  2. Through this fiasco, I am extremely grateful that we are renting. We are learning about all of the house's little secrets she's been keeping from us the past couple of years. It's giving me a much clearer picture of things to consider long-term.