I was home again on the Shore this past weekend for my mom's birthday, and in the middle of enjoying my book on a lazy Sunday afternoon I got a distressed phone call.
It was my other roommate Roberto, calling to ask where Tad was and to tell me "there's water everywhere and the house is flooding, something, something, washer, something, neighbor came over, something." I immediately packed up and headed back up to our house.
By the time I got there, Roberto had left to go to his parents house in Rockville but had managed to get a hold of Tad to learn how to turn off the main water valve. I walked in through the front door, down the hallway, and into the kitchen where I noticed some muddy foot prints but nothing else. Strange, I thought. Then I opened the door to the back room off the kitchen.
Water, dirt, tiny pieces of dry wall, tile and massive balls of wet lint were everywhere. The floor, the walls, the carpet, the washer and dryer and everything we had set back there for storage - including the vacuum cleaner - were soaked. Best we could tell, the pipe leading to the washer had frozen and then burst open several hours prior. We had all been away that weekend and Roberto has just stopped in to pick up something, when he heard Niagara Falls coming out of the back room (which doubles as a laundry room and an enclosed porch).
Tad was on his way so I set to work cleaning up. It took four dish rags, a roll of paper towels and squeezing out another bucket full from the mop to clean what was on the floor as best I could. Using a giant plastic cup, I scooped out 12 10-gallon bucket loads of water sitting in the washing machine. When Tad arrived, we set to work pointing every portable fan we had in the house down at the carpet and at the walls to try to dry everything out.
Not having water made for a complicated situation. We used what bottled water we had to wash our hands, but we couldn't flush the toilet or take showers. I was so gross from cleaning, and considered going back to the Shore, but was saved by my coworker Kasey, who let me use her shower late that night. By the time I got back from her place, brown mold spots had spread all over dry wall in the back room and we still couldn't turn the water back on.
Several calls to our landlord later, his handy man Mark showed up this afternoon. The verdict? Not only did we have a busted pipe inside the house, but as he crawled on his back through wet, 25 year-old insulation under the house, Mark informed us there were also four cracks in pipes under there. Armed with a blow torch and a flashlight, he worked for two hours to fix the pipes before we were able to turn our water back on. He said he would be sending the bill to the landlord and be back later in the week to check on the pipes.
Showered and satisfied in my own home as I write this now, three things come to mind. First, how lucky we are that there are good people who will crawl through the muck under our house in the bitter cold. Second, ah the beauty of renting and not owning. Third, as this is comes at the bottom of several problems we've had with this rental, I'll definitely be moving into an apartment at the end of my lease.
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