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marthawells

Martha Wells

My Flying Lizard Circus


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marthawells

Martha's Plumbing Adventure Part 1

So, for the past couple of days I kept thinking I could hear water running when no water was turned on. I walked all around the house, inside and out, and kept telling myself it was an outside faucet that hadn't been turned off all the way, or a toilet that was running just a little, or the water heater filling. Then this afternoon it was loud enough that I could trace it to the far back corner of the house, where there is a weird plumbing stack to accommodate weird plumbing from the upstairs bathroom that's just installed in a weird way. (We had to have it fixed once before, when one of the pipes in it corroded and started to leak.)

I could hear the water running in it, and the carpet in the living room right next to it felt oddly warm. (One of the odd things I had noticed in the past couple of days was that our hot water, which usually takes forever to show up, as it apparently has to tour the whole house before it gets to an actual faucet, was arriving at its destination really quickly.) I went outside and stuck my hand in the loose foundation dirt, and it felt damp. So I called the plumbers.

This is the same plumbing company that has worked on our house since we moved in around fifteen years ago. (I think the guy who is the supervisor now was the first one to work on our sinks.) So in the first place, it was nice to have someone take me seriously when I call and say I hear mysterious water running in the walls but only have vague suspicions about where it's going. Two guys show up, listen to the tiles in the shower, and immediately confirm I'm not crazy. They turn the hot water heater off (which is extremely easy to do -- I guess they figure the lever should be easy to grab in an emergency) and the running water noise stops.

Me: Uh oh.

Main plumber: Yes, ma'am.

So we go outside to the suspicious corner and he sends the other guy for a shovel and then he sticks it into the dirt. Dirt which is, not far under the surface, mud. Warm mud, bathed in nice hot water.

Main plumber: There it is.

Me: Augh

Main plumber: Yes, ma'am.

It wasn't leaking when the foundation guys finished last week, so the theory is that the pipe may have been in bad shape and was made worse by all the shaking, and the leak just gradually got larger and larger. So after calling the office and talking about it, they decided to try digging down first and seeing if they can get to the pipe from the outside. (The dirt is so loose, it actually shouldn't take long to do this.) If they can't get to it from there, they have to go in through the living room wall.

So this is going to be interesting. The foundation company isn't liable for this kind of damage (especially since it didn't show up until a week later. And there's some suspicious paint puckering on the living room ceiling that might indicate there had already been some moisture from a very tiny slow leak long before they started.) and I'm not sure if our homeowner's insurance will cover it. I don't know how much it's going to cost but I know I didn't budget for it.

So basically if you were ever thinking about getting one of my reprint books (The Element of Fire, City of Bones, Wheel of the Infinite or The Death of the Necromancer) on Kindle, Nook or Kobo, this would be a good time.

And we have to keep our hot water mostly turned off, so I really wish I had done things like ran the dishwasher, did the laundry, and took a shower before I found out about this.

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Wow. Plumbing issues are never good. I use hot water too often to imagine living without it. (And I can't stand cold showers!)

They said we could turn it on for a limited time when we needed it (like to take a shower in the morning) but the thought of it pouring down the inside of the wall makes me really reluctant to do it.

Ugh, homeownership. Mostly great, but when it sucks, it sucks like a giant Hoover. Hope the cost isn't bankrupty. :-(

Edited at 2013-03-01 01:52 am (UTC)

Yeah, basically. I'm really hoping they can get to it from outside, that sounds like it will be the least expensive. I figure we'll have to replace the carpet at some point soon though, because the pad is going to be mold city.

I work for a water utility, you did the right thing, never ever ignore the sound of water running when it shouldn't be, it is always "Bad".

(((hugs)))

I don't know what things are like where you are but if you have metered water and electric/gas you might want to call the utilities and tell them you know why your bill is going to be high, saving them a trip to check the meters and let you know, also many utilities will offer rebates or re-rates on lost water, gas etc once repairs are made, which can offset some of that expense so it's worthwhile to ask about that too.

/helpful tips about surviving water leaks lecture 101

Good Luck!

Oh, good advice, thank you! I'll check into that.

Oh dear. Oh dear. I know that sound, the "there is water running and there shouldn't be" sound, and it fills my homeowner heart with dread.

I will send easy-cheap fix vibes.


Edited at 2013-03-01 02:21 am (UTC)

Thanks -- yeah, as first it was so slight it was hard to tell if it was really there, and it wasn't just a loose toilet fitting somewhere. I think it got exponentially worse just this afternoon.

Eeeek D:

I'll cross my fingers that they can get at it the easy way, and for lots of book sales!

Thanks! I should find out this morning how bad it's going to be.

The one good thing is that you have a plumber that will listen to you and try to help. And yeah, this sounds like it's nobody's fault, just an old pipe giving way. I really hope they can get to it from the outside.

Off to buy the ebooks I don't already have.

Yeah, this is basically the only spot in the house where the older plumbing has had problems before, and it's just not set up in a way that makes sense for plumbing.

Thank you!

Ugh. This pain, I feel it. I hope it turns out not to be a bank-breaker. (A few years ago, our hot water heater died and the replacement was 3K because old house and a need for new lines. The Worst.)

Thanks -- I'm starting to feel slightly hopeful that they're going to be able to get to it from outside, which should cut down on the repair costs.

Oh no! I hope they can sort out the problem without it being too terrible. I went and bought three of your books for Kindle today, so hopefully that is some small help...

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