Indoor Plumbing: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

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If you missed our plumbing problems from yesterday, you'll want to catch up before reading on.

The Good:  Our well is fine.  The pump is fine.  All resident cats and people are alive and well.

The Bad:  The water is off, and we have no expectation that it will be back on any time soon.  It may not be back on this week.  I'm hoping it will be back on by next week.  If it's sooner, I can move this into the Good column.

The Ugly:  So here's what happened.  There is an access panel in our basement that allows access to the plumbing where the water is piped into the house from the well.  

Ugly, right?  Ordinarily, it has a panel covering it up.  This is my sewing room, and so it also has one of my quilts hanging in front of it.  If you didn't know it was there, you wouldn't know it was there.  This room, in addition to being my sewing room, is also a utility room where our water heater, furnace, and water softening equipment is housed.  In many houses, these rooms aren't even finished, and so no one gives them much thought.  It is finished in our house, and I'm so grateful, because it is a large space for me to set up shop.

The Bad:  Yesterday, we discovered a leak, growing larger by the minute, behind the access panel.  You can see it in the image below where the concrete foundation is wet.  When we first noticed it, we only noticed the saturated carpet under our feet and the wet concrete.  Within a couple of hours, it was running a steady stream.

The Good:  It didn't happen while we were gone.  If it had, we have no doubt that, left unchecked, it would have become a sideways geyser within a day or two.

Here's what my sewing room looks like on most days.  That quilt on the left side hangs in front of the access panel.

The Ugly:  Here's what it looks like now.  Some demolition guys were here this morning.  They moved most everything out of the sewing room and the closet.  I had already taken the projects I'm working on so that I might be able to continue working on them...not likely.  They removed the wet insulation.  They pulled up the wet carpet and removed the saturated padding underneath.  The padding will have to be replaced.  It looks like the carpet can be salvaged.  The drywall and insulation will need to be replaced, and the room will be painted.

The Good:  This part will all be covered by our homeowner's policy.  And I'll get a spiffy new paint job in my sewing room.  Any suggestions about the color?  It's always just been primer white, but I want a color now.  Keeping in mind that there are no external windows in this room, I'm thinking a sunny yellow might be nice.  Nothing too bright, but I want some color.

Here's our guestroom with the Tiptoe Through the Tulips quilt on the bed.

The Ugly:  Here's what the guest room looks like now.

And here's our family room.  I wouldn't call myself the tidiest of housekeepers, but I usually do a much better job than this.  All of this stuff came out of the sewing room, and out of the closet in the sewing room.

The Good:  I'm awaiting a plumber who should be here within the hour.  The sooner they get started, the sooner the water will be back on.

The Bad:  The pipe in question is about 4 feet below the grade, and so it will require trenching to gain access to the leak.  This is the part of the garden that will be trenched up.

In the foreground is my favorite dark purple rhododendron.  I fear for its future.

Also potentially slated for exhumation, my favorite ruffly pink azalea. 

Also in the bad column, the plumbing repair and excavation are not covered by insurance.  The plumbing is considered "erosion" or "deterioration".  It is not covered by insurance...ours or anyone else's.

The Good:  The adjuster was here this morning.  He was very nice, polite, and efficient, and he has already written us a check to pay for the damages.  He estimated most things high, and so in at least a couple of ways, we'll be better off.  For example, I had a cheapy Home Depot pressed board cabinet where I kept odds and ends.  Pressed board tolerates water not at all.  I doubt we paid more than about $50 for it.  However, he paid us $250 for it, so I will be able to get something a little nicer when all is said and done.

The Bad:  My sewing room is completely out of commission.  I won't be able to sew for at least a week or two.

The Good:  My fabric was all stored in plastic bins, and so none of it was damaged.  Also, it will give me a chance to catch up on my embroidery.  All embroidery, all the time, I figure.

Many of you have written such lovely and supportive comments.  Thank you.  In the grand scheme of things, this is a minor bump in the road.  My family is intact, happy, and healthy, and there's nothing better than that.  My cats bring me great joy.  We have the resources to clean up this mess.  And a major good thing is that we have an RV where we can shower, do other bathroom-type things, and cook.  There is no rain in the forecast, and so the excavation will not turn into a muddy mess.  

The Bad:  Still, this is the third time we've been through something like this.  At our previous house, our basement flooded twice--once from a broken pipe in an upstairs bathroom (that was a REAL disaster), and once when the bottom rusted out of our water heater (a minor disaster).  Having been through this before (and we had water those times, at least), I know it will be a long time before things are back to normal.  I don't tolerate chaos well, and I hate that I'm not going to be able to sew while all this is going on.

The Good:  This too shall pass.  Sewing will resume, and someday, we will laugh about all of this.  I know we will.

22 comments from clever and witty friends:

Charlene S said...

If push comes to shove, sew in your camper. A small project or chain piecing anything to get the feeling.

Loretta said...

Barbara, so glad this didn't happen when you were away! I had a plumbing problem yesterday too, but not so invasive. It just took the plumber too long to complete it. Boy, can they drag things out, the owner came out (after my call) and things were better, including my bill! Hope things are wrapped up soon. Take care.

Cheryl's Teapots2Quilting said...

I hope the plants survive the trenching. You have such lovely plants. So glad this didn't happen while you were gone. I vote for butter yellow. If I was ever to repaint, hubby and I both want that color. Soft, but sunny and goes with almost anything. Praying all goes well and quickly, too.

Vicki W said...


Debbie said...

Life always is about interruptions....of one type or another. So sorry this has affected the sewing room....now plan it and make it better. Love the idea of the softest yellow on the walls---at least on two of them---to bring the sunshine in. Being without water is the bad and the ugly.....I am that way without my morning coffee. Praying for quick repairs to home and garden and sewing room.

Diane Wild said...

I see a remodel of the sewing room in your future. I agree with Charlene. Get that sewing machine in the camper and do some piecing. It's a great stress reliever.

WoolenSails said...

I love how you look at things, with all those little bumps in the road of life, we need to have a sense of humor.


Rachel said...

DEEP breaths!!

Kathy Felsted Usher said...

This is terrible! I'll bet you can save your plants if you're around when the dig. Maybe they can loosen it and you can move the plant until they are done. You were so fortunate that this didn't happen while you were away!

Dana Gaffney said...

Those plants are too beautiful to lose, tell them they have to dig them up or maybe you can do it while they're there and they'll take pity and help you. Just keep planning the sewing room, it will get you through this.

kc said...

And through it all, she smiles. Hooray for YOU! I know it's a mess and it's stressful, but heck, it's given you something to do, in case you were bored.

Like you, I'm thankful it didn't happen while you were away. That's one of my biggest fears, so our neighbors have a key & strict instructions to do whatever they need to, should there be a problem. We, too, turn off the water when we leave, just in case hoses burst (we've seen that happen to others, and we know our time's comin!)

That Tulip quilt is some kind of fabulous, btw. I'm thinkin' a buttery yellow would be nice...

LethargicLass said...

I hope it's all fixed soon, keeping my fingers, toes and eyelashes crossed! BTW... how are you able to shower in the RV... don't you need a hookup?

Kate said...

Being a home owner is not for the timid or the meek. So sorry you are having to deal with the mess and the chaos. I don't do well with chaos either and not being able to sew would drive me even more crazy. Hope all things progress speedily so you can get back to normal as soon as possible.

Winona said...

I am sorry you are going through this, but the good thing is that it did not happen while you were gone. Oh my, what a disaster that would have been. Also it is great that your well has not run dry. Just do handwork and play with Smitty and Gracie. Things will be back to normal before you know. (((HUGS))))

Irina said...

Oh dear... it looks like it's going to be a nightmare, but I see you take it with a lot of philosophy. I'm kind of the same, sometimes I think I'd rather have some problem of this calibre instead of what some people have to go through.

quiltzyx said...

I'm in the buttery yellow camp on the new sewing room color. It will make you smile, I'll bet!
I really hate that squishy sound/feeling when you walk on carpet. Back when we had some major rains here, the window over my bed leaked. When I got out of bed - SQUISH! Finally got it all dried out (slept on my mattress on the floor of the livingroom for a week)....then the water heater leaked. While that leak didn't exactly directly cause a squish, when the plumber pulled the old one out of its space, it was still pretty full of water. He had to tip it to get it out & it spilled into the space - which has a connecting wall with my b/room closet. YUCK! Zzyzx & I had to stay at my mom's for a week.
I'm glad you have your RV to take care of watery biz until things are corrected. Have fun while you're embroidering - you'll get the ones you didn't work on that went on vacation done!

Dora, the Quilter said...

I'm so very sorry you're facing the challenge of a water leak disaster that can threaten your beautiful garden too!

Needled Mom said...

All I can think of is it is a major waste of sewing time!!!!! It will pass and will be much nicer when it is done, but oh....

I think a sunny yellow or a calm green would be beautiful.

servicemagic plumber said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Carmella Vancil said...

Good thing you noticed this problem right away, and that it didn’t take a turn for the worse while you were away. That would have caused a bigger problem in your sewing room if left untended. Furthermore, I don’t think this repair will be as easy to accomplish, mainly because the plumber has to dig in your garden before he can get to the leak and fix it. Btw, you should relocate those lovely flowers you have there while the repairs are going on so they won’t get in the way. You can return them there once the repairs are done.

-Carmella Vancil

Darryl Iorio said...

I agree with Carmella. :) It is a good thing that you noticed the problem right away. Early diagnosis certainly saves you from more problems down the road. Hope everything is well now, and you have hired a good plumber that was competent for the task. Any updates?

Darryl Iorio

Anonymous said...

Water can erode the soil in the garden and kill off your plants. That will ruin your garden's landscaping. But as you said, this is just a bump on the road, and there's nothing to worry about. I hope everything is all right there now! :)