It’s every homeowner’s nightmare: to come home to a flooded home. From that perspective I was fortunate that the pipe burst in my home 36 hours after I returned home from a two week trip away. I heard water rushing in the lower level and after thinking, “there’s no laundry in the washer, why do I hear water running?” I rushed downstairs to find water pouring from the ceiling. In disbelief for several seconds as I watched huge amounts of water gushing out of 3 ceiling lights onto the wood floor, I ran for a large bucket to put under one of the larger spots. At first, I thought I had a leak and then soon realized it was a much bigger problem. Very soon the bucket became too heavy for me to lift so I found a smaller bucket to literally bail water from there into the bathroom toilet about 20 feet away. I repeated this maneuver for about 2 hours. At more than middle age, this became very tiring but I just couldn’t stop. The water was relenting. I finally let the water spill over the one bucket long enough for me to turn off every water valve I could find with little result. I figured I had a burst pipe as the weather had turned very cold just days before. The pipe must have frozen and when I came home from my trip and began to run water throughout the house essentially thawing the pipe, it burst from the pressure.
As my wits began to return, I found my cell phone and in between bailing the water I started with the phone calls. First I notified my nail lady that I wasn’t going to make my appointment for my nails. Being the lovely person that she is and the wonderful relationship that we have, she sent her husband over to help me (fortunately, he’d just gotten off from work due to the icy road conditions). Within 30 minutes the two of us were working bailing water and doing our best to move furniture out of the way of the water. It felt like a small Niagara Falls in the lower level which by the way has a 12 foot ceiling so there’s a long way for the water to fall. Next I called the insurance company who said they’d try to find a mediation company to come out to help me; meanwhile they instructed me to call the local county water service to turn the water off at the street main. The county was unusually cooperative, not only responding to my frantic call within 40 minutes or so, but it did help calm the rush of water… yet not entirely. Next I tried to reach plumbers to fix the rest of the problem.
There were so many people with burst pipes in the area and the day was wearing on into late afternoon by this time that I was getting negative answers from the plumbers and water mediation companies that the insurance company provided. I was frantic. Finally I was given the name of a plumber by a company that couldn’t come out so I just called them. These people came out and essentially ripped me off, merely getting the water shut off but not fixing the problem. Next I went upstairs and after searching my files found a prior company I had used years before when a different water problem had occurred. They came out right away and took over. The plumber had gotten the water off, but the room was soaked and a mess. The mediation firm tore the room apart, moved the furniture and began the process of taking out the water-wet walls, taking up the wet floor and getting the room dried out.
This process took close to a week and most of this time I was sick with a very bad cold so I slept through it even with the banging going on downstairs. When I finally did go out that Friday night, I was very happy to be out of the house. But on my way home, there was a flash rain storm and a huge semi-trailer truck driving by blew a tire and hit my car leaving black marks across two doors and damaging the front driver’s side to the tune of about $2,000 damage. I was pretty shook up by the incident but walked away from it (after driving home as it was still pouring rain). Insurance covered the 10 days for the car to be in the shop, repaired and the loaner car. So, does God hate me with all this or am I blessed? The answer is coming up shortly.
The following week the next company came in to start putting everything back together. They repaired the ceiling, the walls and swept up the floor. Then I started to see the damages. Many of my draperies, and other personal belongings were not handled properly and sort of just thrown aside rather than boxed up or moved to safer areas. If I’d been there and not half dead with the horrible cold I would have made sure where things were put and how they were managed. It wasn’t a pretty sight. Later that week I saw how my new fiberglass door frame had been gouged when one of the guys was pulling up the floor. Luckily I knew of an artisan who could fix fiberglass much like a boat is reshaped after a hole. Then I sent the bill to the company responsible and it was paid. So although it was great aggravation to locate this repair firm again, the damage was fixed. And my things were recovered mainly by my moving them myself after the fact to a safer location upstairs.
I still am trying to find a good vendor for the floor… I’m a bit worried about how things will be managed while the work is being done so I’ve scared off a few vendors. That’s ok. If they don’t want to be careful or responsible then they aren’t the right ones for me, especially after what I’ve been through.
Now here’s the message from all this. If it had to happen it did after I returned from vacation. I was home at the time to save my furniture. None of it got ruined. The bad cold enabled me to sleep through the first week and not know about the damage until I had more energy to deal with it. And the damage was repairable. The car accident was a reminder that none of this is life or death – but the situation with the car could have been.
My verdict: I’m blessed and yes God must really love me to protect me and make sure it all works out ok.
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