Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Rite of Passage: Our pipes burst!

So Saturday morning I woke up around 9:00 and lazed around in bed for awhile, reading a magazine and thinking about what my Saturday would involve. It was the first time in awhile that I'd had a day open and to myself, and the possibilities were endless: shall I go for a walk? Perhaps kick it up a bit and strap on the snowshoes? Maybe I will clean my apartment really, really well and even start in on the disaster that is our back hallway/pantry?

I was planning a mix of getting-stuff-done and having fun but alas, none of it was to be. At 9:30 Sara called to report that her mom (who was visiting at the time) went over to the front house and thought a pipe was leaking. Oh, and the basement was flooded. Like past the first stair.

I jumped out of bed, got dressed, and put on my rain boots. Sara met me outside and we ventured over to the front house to take a gander. Sure enough, the basement was flooded with about a foot and a half of water and as I discovered upon getting a face full of spraying water, a pipe had burst.

What followed was a morning (and afternoon and evening) of trying to get the fire-hose sized sump pump in our basement unfrozen and working, as well as finding a plumber who wouldn't charge us a million bucks. There was also the issue of hot water, as in our tenants didn't have any. And then the waiting around for the plumber to get there.

My Saturday quickly turned from a day of doing what I wanted to a day of dealing with shit. After an hour of a self-imposed pity party and a tough love talk from my boyfriend, I decided that I wasn't going to let the flooded basement and bursting pipe ruin my day entirely and that, well, I'm a grown up and I own a house and shit happens. So I cleaned the kitchen while I waited and I learned a lot (relatively speaking) about the basement of our front house.

Nate the Plumber--and that's actually how he introduces himself--showed up just as the water in the basement was all pumped out and the lights turned back on. It was dark in the basement all day (and flooded with freezing water) so I hadn't been able to see the burst pipe, I just felt it when the water sprayed my face. Not knowing anything about electricity and with our electrician-in-residence at work, I didn't want to play around with the fuse-box and light fixtures while standing in a foot of water. Once the water was out and the lights came on, this is what I saw:

Nate the Plumber went to work thawing out the frozen pipes, cutting and replacing the split pipe (thankfully it was a small part), and solving our drainage problem. He eventually concluded that the waste pipe* in the middle of the house had no access point and therefore no ability to be cleaned. We usually get the main drain pipe in the front yard cleaned of tree roots twice a year but our regular Roto Rooter maintenance didn't do the trick this winter. Nate thought that there must be a clog towards the middle of the house and without the ability to clean it, our basement would keep flooding. So, Nate and his son cut the pipe and installed a Y-shaped pipe for access.

And so far, so good. We had a big melt on Sunday and while that would usually flood the basement, it stayed flood-free. My fingers are crossed, hoping that we've solved our problem for the time being. Or at least until the lining of my rubber boots has time to dry out.

*Steve claims that he's never heard anyone describe this by a name other than "shit stack."


al l. said...

guys, get a tubing cutter and a torch for $60, you can quickly and easily cut out and replace any burst pipes on your own. it seems scarier than it is.

there isnt much to it. 30 minute job, promise!

practice on some scrap, you probably have some now :) good luck.

Teresa said...

Congrats for dealing with disaster with such aplomb!!

Dan and I have been dealing with a sump pump that slowly went belly up and a clogged laundry sink that flooded half the basement, and these problems were not resolved half so easily as your major incident (though things do seem to be in good shape now). Though our handyman (Dan's best friend) is not the most reliable of people, he has the advantage of being free and so our repairs often become more fo a hassle than they should be.

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Collin said...

Would you recommend Nate the Plumber?

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