The following takes place on September 5th during the hours of 5:30am to 7:30am…
It was Tuesday morning after Labor Day weekend. I was up to take my shower before waking the baby to nurse him, before getting the older kids out of bed to ready themselves for school. We leave the house at 7:20 on mornings we drive carpool in order to get to school by 8:10.
Despite waiting the 7 or so minutes I always do before getting into the shower, the water was still tepid. But it sort of felt like it was gradually getting warmer so I got in, thinking that at any moment the hot water would kick in and the shower would become a more pleasant experience. Unfortunately, the water never got even warmish, and I raced through, shivering the whole time. After drying off, I got back into bed in an attempt to warm up a little. I woke Jay up to whine a little about the freezing cold shower I’d been forced to take, and relayed that it was such a miserable way to start the morning that it almost made me cry .
The prospect of fresh coffee sounded appealing to my still shivering self, so I headed out of our bedroom to start the pot when I realized something was very wrong. I could hear a steady “thunk, thunk, thunk” coming from the kitchen area, and as I got closer to the sound, the dim light of early morning revealed its source. Water was coming out of a vent in the ceiling, dripping onto the opened dishwasher door (we’d run the cycle the night before and left the door open to cool the dishes). Water had overflowed and was all over the kitchen floor.
With a sick feeling in my gut I roused my still-in-bed husband with, “I think you’d better get up – there’s water coming out of the kitchen ceiling!”
The next hour and a half were awful. Jay immediately sprung into action to attend to the problem, which was of course the hot water heater, which of course had decided to burst just two days away from our house going on the market. The drainage system which should function as backup if your hot water heater malfunctions, had clogged, causing all that water to overflow the pan surrounding the heater, and pour into the nearby floor, carpet, wall, and into the upper playloft area. From there it was dripping down two separate walls into the lower story, some of it escaping through that ceiling vent and making a flood on our kitchen floor, and the rest soaking into the material between the two floors, and forming a huge water stain on the kitchen ceiling, from the east wall of house all the way to the family room. We couldn’t see this, but some additional water had gotten into that east wall and had caused damage to the GFCI outlets and circuitry on that side of the kitchen.
All I could think of right off was that we had just bought a second house, we still owned this house, and thousands of dollars in water damage were happening right this instant to our beautiful home that had been market-worthy the night before. What type of money would be required to fix this mess, and where was that going to come from, and what were we going to do? Jay was also losing his cool (something he doesn’t do often) and his attempts to stop the rapid flow of water were met with failure, which further aggravated the situation. When he went to turn off the water, the shutoff valve to the heater failed. At that point, water began shooting out of the heater into the upper story attic he was standing in, pouring down out of the kitchen vent at a much faster rate, and then I heard something come out of his mouth that I don’t think I’ve heard from him before. Thankfully he is a resourceful man in the midst of disaster, and so he quickly jumped out of the water heater closet, lept down the stairs, and and ran as fast as he could to the front yard to turn off the entire supply of water to the house, thereby ending the flood from the upper story.
In the midst of all this, our children were trying to get ready for school, and were understandably quite interested in the goings-on in the playloft and kitchen. Their many questions were met with my “Please don’t ask Daddy questions right now – the hot water heater has broken and there is water everywhere” which really only served to inspire yet more questions from the curious little bunch. Somehow we managed to get them dressed and fed and out the door only a few minutes later than we should have.
A frantic call to a friend during this water fiasco did at least remind Jay and I that we have a blessed thing called “Homeowner’s Insurance”. I’d completely forgotten it existed in my utter panic. In the next few days we learned that though Homeowner’s Insurance is helpful in a disaster such as this, it doesn’t just eliminate the issues. Nor does it pay for hot water heaters or the labor to install them, since they are considered “appliances”. Add in your deductible and around $2K just flew out the window that morning…bye, bye.
As you can imagine there was a good bit of clean-up to be done after all this. Despite how bad the damage appeared to us, it really wasn’t anywhere near what it could have been (or so the repairmen have assured us). Thankfully, most of the work which needed to be done happened in a fairly timely fashion, but needless to say, our house did not go on the market that Thursday, as we’d planned. It was, however, listed by the following Friday, a little over a week late. Despite the delay, we are trying to comfort ourselves with the thought that surely someone will be even more compelled to buy our house, now that it includes a shiny new Whirlpool water heater from Lowes!