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A long and whiny post about homeownership and water. Lots of water.

Rob, Kaylee and I attended a birthday party this morning for Kaylee's friend, who's turning two.  During a conversation with one of the other moms, she said something like this: "Homeownership sounds like a good idea, but really it sucks ass."

Mostly, she went on to say, it sucks because you can no longer call the landlord when everything goes to shit.

That's what Rob and I finally and completely realized for the first time on Thursday.

Kaylee and I went to our exercise class that morning and then we killed a bunch of time afterward, so we didn't get home until almost 1 o'clock.  As soon as we walked in the door, I noticed something was off, because there was a rattling sound coming from the vent right inside the garage door.

It freaked me out a bit, because the last thing we need around here is a furnace problem.  For those of you who don't live in Colorado, it's been fucking freezing lately.   For most of this week, it's been hard to step outside without an immediate and overwhelming desire to turn right back around and head for the kitchen to make a cup of hot chocolate.  The only reason Kaylee and I ever left the house at all was because it's only possible to survive as a stay-at-home mom when you DON'T stay at home.  The prospect of spending the entire week cooped up in the house with a two-year-old was much more daunting than freezing my face off walking between the car and the mall.

Anyway.  Furnace problems = bad.

So I called Rob, who couldn't really help me assess the situation because he wasn't home, and I called my dad, who also couldn't help much.  But because the furnace itself wasn't making abnormal noises and the noise was only coming from two of the vents, I decided to wait.

This is the decision that caused me, several hours later, to update my Facebook status as follows: "Heather is too fucking stupid to be a homeowner."

Because the one thing I learned on Thursday is that, if I suspect there's a problem with my house, DO NOT WAIT TO SEE WHAT HAPPENS.

I let that rattling noise continue all day long, and when Rob came home from work at about 6:30, it was still going.  Rob, who I've now learned has a more discerning sense of hearing than I do, immediately thought, "That sounds like running water."  And so he went downstairs to the basement and found his office carpet soaked, his computer sitting in water, the drywall starting to sag, and water sloshing out of the crawlspace.

That rattling noise?  Not simply dirt having a party in our ductwork.  It was water gushing from a burst pipe and hitting the metal, before ricocheting off to fill our crawlspace and steadily increase our homeowners insurance premium.

Rob called his mom, Sherry, for advice, largely because she had a huge water problem shortly after buying her current house and there was a good chance she'd have some useful tips.  I called Roto Rooter because I figured if nothing else good came from this situation, at least there was a small possibility that the plumbers who showed up to fix the leak would be Jason and Grant from TAPS.

Sherry logically suggested calling the insurance company right away too. So after I found that the plumbers wouldn't be able to come until Friday "morning," I called Allstate.  They told us to contain the situation as much as possible, try to clean up the water and wait for an insurance adjuster to call.  They also recommended renting a ShopVac to clean up the standing water.

I should mention that, during all of these conversations, I was either fighting back tears or openly crying.  I can be reduced to tears fairly easily on a good day, but when I'm 35 weeks pregnant and feeling responsible for widespread destruction, I am a bit more unstable than normal.  Everyone I dealt with surely thought I had gone off my medication.

We dropped Kaylee off with Rob's mom and went to Lowes, where they informed us that they do not, in fact, rent out ShopVacs, but we could get a Rug Doctor if we wanted.  The idea of sucking up a gazillion gallons of water one gallon at a time wasn't appealing, so we decided to just buy a ShopVac.  We found one that had a valve for attaching a garden hose, so that you could drain the 16-gallon bucket without having to wheel it to the bathroom every 14 seconds.

We underestimated the size of a ShopVac, though, so it took a little finagling to get it into the backseat of our car. We had to slide the front passenger seat all the way forward and put the seat in the fully upright and most uncomfortable position so we could get the ShopVac into the car.  Afterward, I slid the seat back again, went to recline the seat a bit -- and the handle broke off in my hand.


After a bit more swearing and driving on icy roads, we made it back home, where Rob's brother Tim met us with Sherry's off-brand ShopVac-type thingy.  Ok, time to get started!  Oh wait, the new ShopVac needed to be assembled.

I left the two of them putting the ShopVac together while I went to Taco Bell to buy dinner. While there, I got stuck behind someone in a four-wheel-drive vehicle who didn't know how to drive on snow, the truck two cars behind mine in the drive-through managed to have a freakishly loud and squeally engine problem every single time I opened my mouth to order, and the person behind me flashed their brights at me over and over while I was waiting for my food.  I briefly considered getting out of my car and going car to car, punching people in the face for fun.

Ok.  So I got back to the house, and I was setting the food down on the dining room table when I heard Rob saying, "Ack! Arr! Ahh! Tim! Stop!" I hurried down the stairs to see water gushing out of the top of Tim's wet-vac, as its automatic stop-when-full feature hadn't worked at all.  Where the carpet had once been simply wet, it was now a lake.

We thought this was a good time to break for some food and an episode of The Office. It was when we were sucking down our large sodas that we began to ponder where one pees when the water is turned off in a house. Rob is a little bit proud that he has now officially peed in our new backyard.

When we returned to work, the boys decided to use the new ShopVac to empty the tank on the other one, since garden hose should theoretically make the task easy.  On the first try, the automatic shutoff feature worked like a charm.  Woot!  And the garden hose emptied the tank beautifully into the basement shower.  Double woot!  Well, that was $109 well spent, wasn't it?

... And then the automatic shutoff feature failed completely when Rob tried to use it on the ocean in our crawlspace.  Our basement carpet now had an undercurrent, with high and low tides.

... And then it started smelling funny when he tried to use the drain-by-hose feature.

... And then it started sounding funny and no longer moved water.

... And then it started smoking.


It was about 9:30 p.m., so there was no returning it to Lowes at that point.  The boys returned to using the off-brand wet-vac, the one we'd so cruelly disparaged because it didn't have all the nifty features of the new ShopVac.  I believe we all felt sufficiently ashamed for turning our backs on a trustworthy friend in favor of the new, popular kid with all the shiny toys.  It was like an after-school special.

Tim quickly learned how to tell when the tank was full, so we didn't have any more major spills, and I broke out our steam cleaner to start sucking water out of the carpet, one gallon at a time.  After a while I played the pregnancy card and left, going to Sherry's house to get some sleep.

Oh hey, I have an interesting bit of trivia for you guys!  Did you know there is a condition called pregnancy rhinitis?  What this means is that a lot of pregnant women have a perpetually stuffy nose for no good goddamn reason!  Yay!  And when you have year-round allergies, like some of us do, it's even worse!  Yay again!

For some reason, my body chose that night of all nights to make my nose stop working.  Add to that the discomfort of sleeping in a bed that you're not used to, with hip pain from forgetting to bring that magical pregnancy pillow to sleep on, and you end up with zombie Heather the next morning.

Kaylee was kind enough to wake up an hour earlier than normal, and then she complained that her tummy hurt.  By the time we left Sherry's house to meet the plumbers for their 9-11 a.m. window, she was whining and crying continuously.  This was about when my brain broke and I called for backup.  My parents arrived about an hour later, bearing muffins, bottled water and toddler anti-gas medication.  This fixed both of us.

(Incidentally, another thing I've learned from this experience is that I am really, truly unprepared for the zombie apocalypse.  We didn't have ANY water to drink -- unless you counted the water in the toilets.  Once the zombies come, I really hope all the Diet Coke we have on hand will carry us through until the Army rescues us.)

Because of the below-zero temperatures of late, pipes have been breaking all over Colorado Springs, and when you're given a 9-11 a.m. window that means they'll show up around 12:30 p.m. Unfortunately, I had a freelance interview scheduled for precisely 12:30.  So my parents met the plumber, who apparently has to deal regularly with people's disappointment that he is neither Jason nor Grant, and is probably tired of hearing that same joke all the damn time.  Meanwhile, I sat around in a model home for more than 25 minutes waiting for my interviewee to actually show up, wishing I could just climb up onto the massive table in the sales office and take a nap.

So the pipe was fixed.  The water was on.  The toilets were flushing.  (Although, one downside to turning your water off for almost 24 hours is that every faucet in the house will scare the ever-loving shit out of you the first time you use it again.  The loud sputtering has caused my heart to stop no less than six times, and each time I've found myself reaching for my cell phone because of lesson number one: DON'T WAIT TO SEE WHAT HAPPENS.)

After lunch, I took Kaylee to my bedroom so we could both lie down for a late nap.  Once she was out, I was finally, blessedly able to close my eyes.

Then I got texts from Rob and Sherry asking for updates.  I told them what was going on and then settled in for some sleep.  Then the claims adjuster finally called.  I talked to him for half an hour.  Then a cleaning company specializing in water and fire damage repair called to set up a time to come by.  And then naptime was over.  Sigh.

Anyway, cleanup is still in progress.  The cleaning company came by today to set up fans and a dehumidifier to dry out our basement.  I've managed to stop crying and blaming myself for breaking our house.  I finally got to sleep.  Kaylee's tummy doesn't hurt anymore.  There's bottled water in our house in case the zombies come.  We have muffins.

All is well.  Or at least well-ish.

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    Response: Pirate Bay
    Jackadillo Princess - Some princesses burp. - Jackadillo Princess - A long and whiny post about homeownership and water. Lots of water.
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    Jackadillo Princess - Some princesses burp. - Jackadillo Princess - A long and whiny post about homeownership and water. Lots of water.
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    Jackadillo Princess - Some princesses burp. - Jackadillo Princess - A long and whiny post about homeownership and water. Lots of water.
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    Jackadillo Princess - Some princesses burp. - Jackadillo Princess - A long and whiny post about homeownership and water. Lots of water.
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    Jackadillo Princess - Some princesses burp. - Jackadillo Princess - A long and whiny post about homeownership and water. Lots of water.
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    Jackadillo Princess - Some princesses burp. - Jackadillo Princess - A long and whiny post about homeownership and water. Lots of water.
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    Response: judionline
    Jackadillo Princess - Some princesses burp. - Jackadillo Princess - A long and whiny post about homeownership and water. Lots of water.

Reader Comments (5)

That truly, truly sucks, but you tell a fucking hilarious version of the story, at least. And make me feel less bad about our toilet that's just dripping. That's nothing in comparison.

December 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKate

This line: "I briefly considered getting out of my car and going car to car, punching people in the face just for fun"? Probably sums up why we are friends. Next time, call me. I'll punch someone in the face for you. Wouldn't want you giving birth in jail. :)

December 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPam

Holy crap. I totally would have punched some faces. And cried. Maybe both at the same time.

December 13, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterrkmama

Oh my gosh! That's horrible and sucky and a hysterical retelling of the events! At least anything that happens going forward, in terms of homeownership, will be a breeze now that you've had your breaking-in episode. Sheesh!

December 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

Although what happend sucks royally I love your story telling. Oh and I totally would help Pam punch some faces so you aren't having that baby in Jail. :-)

December 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTiffany

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