Tuesday, August 16, 2011

When your house screams

When I left my house on Saturday afternoon, I left with the dogs and a bag packed for the night because I was staying at my friend's house after the Stevie Nicks concert. We went to the concert in a limousine and I knew we'd be drinking and I wanted to plan ahead for playing it safe.

On Sunday, my friend cooked a great breakfast and then the television came on and the Sunday paper came out and before I knew it, it was late afternoon on a really lazy Sunday and time for me to get on back to my house, unpack, get the dogs settled, and wind down the weekend with 60 Minutes and laundry.

It didn't quite go like that, however.

In fact, it didn't go like that at all.

When I walked in the door and turned into the dining room, I discovered water.  Water all over the floor, drip drip dripping from the ceiling which was dark and wet with wet watery wetness. The wall post was soaked as well, with water running down to the floor.

Cheyenne started pacing. Dixie started barking.  I felt the blood drain from my face.

I may have spewed a string of curse words. Loudly.

I ran up the stairs to the master bath which is directly over the dining room, and there I discovered the problem. Water was filled and flowing over both sinks. The faucets, however, were off, and dry. 

Out came all the towels that I have. Out came buckets to catch the water dripping from the ceiling downstairs. I scooped out the water from the sinks and poured it into the tub. Then I stood there dumfounded as I watched the water in the sinks rise from the drain.

I called the plumber and the woman on the phone declared it a plumbing emergency and I nodded my agreement as I was at a loss of words when hearing the obvious.  An excruciatingly long two hours later, the plumber arrived.

The plumber quickly assessed that the problem was a clog below where the air conditioning line drains into the sink drain on one of the two sinks in the master bath. Finding the clog, however, was a time-consuming and expensive process but as he went about his work he explained what he needed to do along the way, before he did it. The search involved a fiber optic camera, the attic, removal of the full wall mirror in my bathroom, removal of the full wall mirror in the guest bathroom that shares a wall with the master, and, as a last resort, several holes cut into the wall behind the master bath mirror.  It took five hours of searching on Sunday and four on Monday for the damn clog to be located.  Every two hours throughout the night on Sunday, I had to wake to drain the sinks into the tub. 

As I got up at 2:30 that morning to bail out the water, I laughed to myself that while Texas might be under a severe drought, my house certainly was not.

On Monday morning, when the clog had still not been located and the price was rising with each task, I called my insurance company. Because my father served in the Navy, I am a member of USAA and I know it's another company's slogan but I was in good hands. They explained to me that they would send a moisture remediation company to my house that afternoon to check for damage and to assess anything that would need to be removed to avoid mold growth, then they would send an interior restoration  company today to assess what it would take to put my house back together again. I had no idea the magnitude of the damage just beyond my eye, but they did.

What was the clog? A whole mess of nastiness that had snagged through the years in the interior of the PVC pipe that when the house was being constructed in 2002 someone broke while assembling (visible wrench marks) and instead of replacing, went ahead and shoved another pipe about a quarter of the way into it to provide a seal. That interior pipe formed a lip on which any and everything could and did snag. After nine years, the snagged stuff finally added up to one big plug in the drain so that when the air conditioning line, which is above the clog, drained, there was nowhere for that water to go but up through the sink drain and into the sink and then out of the sink and onto the floor, down through the sub floor and through the ceilings and onto the dining room floor.

What's the damage? As I write this, the moisture remediation team is knocking out the ceiling and one wall post in my living room. The hard wood floors have extensive damage (as determined from a pretty cool little tool called a moisture meter, in addition to the obvious waves in the previously flat wood planks) and those are being torn up next. Ten fans and three de-humidifiers are on my front porch. Upstairs, the guest and master bathrooms have holes drilled into the walls and patches of the walls have been cut out.  All the baseboards have been removed. Bags and bags of debris are on the sidewalk.

This afternoon, an interior restoration firm assessor will be here to provide an estimate for the repair of all the damage and destruction. The moisture remediation company estimates that the fans and de-humidifiers will get the areas dried by Friday, so construction can begin the week after next.

When the plumber first arrived on Sunday, he had a plunger in one hand and a jug of some heavy-duty clog dissolver in the other. I figured that he would be here for a half an hour, max, and then I would wash and dry all the towels and call it a day. HA! Isn't that funny? 

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Anonymous said...

WOW!! Believe me, I know what a huge headache (and mess) this is! Hopefully it will all be taken care of soon...I'm sorry for you, but not for those who are going to make some hefty income from this...

Snowbrush said...

I am SO sorry. Disasters like this are why I turn the water to my whole house off when I'm going to be gone for a few days.

CreekHiker / HollysFolly said...

Alison, I had something similar happen when I moved into this house... Between the home warranty and my insurance company, all was eventually well! So sorry you have to deal with this...the pups must have been STRESSED!!

Linda@VS said...

What a nightmare! I'm glad your house is well insured but wish there was some kind of insurance that would compensate you for all the stress this ordeal must have generated. Hope they get everything back in shape quickly.

ghost said...

this happened to me back in The Great Flood of 02.