Ahhh. An easy winter morning. As I wipe the sleep from my eyes and hit the snooze button one more time, I am thoroughly awakened by the unmistakeable sound of one of my 3 young boys vomiting. While I can’t distinguish which one it is, I am both unnerved and relieved that it is only one of them but can’t help to imagine that the pie eating contest scene in “Stand By Me” could quickly become my reality. I throw on my trousers, holler to my kid that I’ll soon be there, and leave my room.
As I head to the laundry room to get a bucket, I hear the sound of running and dripping water. Is it the washing machine? No. The laundry tub? No. A toilet running? No. Distracted, I head to the basement to investigate and discover the pipe leading to my outside hose bib has ruptured. This is not a big deal, I think to myself. I’ll just close the valve leading to the bib. I take a leap into the pooled water in my unfinished basement (hoping it is not somehow electrified) to get to the valve to turn the water off. The good news is that the water was not charged. But, the valve to turn the water off was stuck open. The water continues to pour into the house. I think quickly to turn off the main valve where it comes into the house. I wish that I could respond as quickly too. As I head over to that corner of the basement, I undoubtedly crack my head on the air handler in a very ungraceful manner and am thankful that no one was watching, or listening, for that matter, as I spew out expletives faster than my kid did his previous night’s dinner.
This valve should turn the water off, I think to myself. But, of course, this one is stuck open as well. Out to the garage I go for a garbage can and my shop vac. As I am headed out the door, I pass my wife who explains that she has taken care of our sick kid and asks why I am playing around in the basement when there is vomit to contend with. We quickly glare at each other as if neither of us can imagine the others’ peril. “A pipe is broken,” I exclaim as I head out the door.
Upon re-entry, I head to the basement and set up my mitigation plan. I allow the water from the pipe to flow into my garbage can and from there I vacuum it into the shop vac, which is then carried outside and dumped. Good plan, I must say; one that allows me time to contact a plumber to fix my pipes.
The plumber arrives in short order. He heads to the basement where I am tending to my contraption. I quickly & proudly explain what I have done – turned this valve and that valve, hit my head on the air handler, so watch out for that, etc. He pushes me aside, more than likely wishing that this idiot, me, get out of his way so he can get to his task and get on to his next job. He completes his task quickly and asks that I call him should I have any more problems. I thank him for his quick response, remind him to send me a bill, as if he would forget, and he leaves.
For the next hour or so, I vacuum up the rest of the water and get my dehumidifiers set up. My job is done.
As I wipe the sweat from my brow with pride, my wife comes bounding down the stairs. “Would you like a cup of coffee?” she asks in her soft and sympathetic voice. Before I can respond, she says “Your fly is down.” and heads back up the stairs, unaffected.
Defeated, I come to realize that I have proved what that plumber was probably thinking when I was telling him how to go about my repairs, which is simply: “This guy can’t zip up his fly and he was trying to tell me how to fix the leaking pipe? What an idiot!”
So, I guess the moral of the story is to call on the pros when you have a plumbing issue and do what you can to mitigate the damage, no matter what it does to your ego.
Now, let me tie this story into insurance and how it applies: With the typical homeowner HO3 policy, the cost incurred to repair my pipe would not be covered. However, the damage the leaking pipe caused to my house and belongings would be, subject to the deductible.
Oh, and my kid is fine. Thanks for wondering!