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Day 113 - Leaky faucets and other water woes

Our kitchen faucet is leaking. I realized it the other night as I was washing some dishes and my feet were getting wet. I looked for the usual suspects like water dripping off the counter, but it turns out that water was pouring out from under the door of the cabinet below the sink. Apparently when I pushed the nozzle and hose back into the neck of the faucet, whatever water that had been dripping into the sink backed up and funneled back through the faucet and underneath the counter. Judging by the repair job I saw in the sink this afternoon, we may need a professional to fix it.

We've had our share of water issues around here, and this is probably the smallest nuisance I can remember. Water issues plagued us from the very first day we moved into this house. Being young and naive, we weren't overly concerned that the previous owner never allowed us to get a good look at the bathrooms upstairs. It seemed that there was always someone home and in the bathroom when we came here for showings. The first day we moved in, however, we noticed a substantial crack in the bathtub that turned out to be leaking into the basement. The shower in the master bathroom was leaking behind the wall, so both required a plumber visit within the first week after closing. Ultimately we had to take both bathrooms down to the studs and renovated them a few years later.

Years later we did a massive landscaping project where we took out over 25 trees to create a grassy play area. We needed quite a bit of fill for the project, so Hans found an economical solution with 1-800-cleanfill or or something like that. For days, huge dump trucks delivered dirt and one guy in a backhoe pushed it around the yard. Like all of our home improvement projects, the project went long and over budget, and at one point our yard looked like a mini-mountain range with piles of dirt everywhere.

One weekend during the renovation we suffered a massive rainstorm. It poured for an entire day. Towards dusk of that day, our neighbor called to say his basement was flooded. This had never happened to them before, and he thought the water might be runoff from our landscaping project. Sure enough, there was a raging river of water forging a new bed between the hills in our yard, down behind our pool and directly into their basement. Hans and the neighbor took some shovels and, in the pouring rain, began to dig, rerouting the water down the hill but away from their foundation. I never had the heart to ask how bad the damage was, but I'm glad they are still friends!

There have been other issues...once the boiler leaked and flooded the basement. Once Max used dish soap instead of dishwashing detergent in the dishwasher and flooded the kitchen. Once Hans forgot that he had the pump on and pretty much siphoned all of the water out of the pool and down towards the neighbors' house (no damage that time!). Another time, just before Thanksgiving, a pipe that we had cut in construction popped its seal and left several inches of water in the basement. We had to call a flood remediation service that filled our house with massive commercial fans to remove the extra water before mold could set in. We all dried up like prunes and I have never experienced such dry mouth, but I wasn't quite sure if it was because of the fans or from all of the screaming I did to be heard over the constant whir of their engines.

One other time I had taken Abby to gymnastics and we arrived home just in time for lunch. We had a small second refrigerator in the basement, so I headed downstairs to get something I needed for her meal. I didn't really notice it at first, but after I grabbed a couple of items from the frig, I turned to head back upstairs and could see water creeping towards me. I wasn't sure what to do or where it was coming from, so I did the most logical thing—I called our handyman, Scott.

Over time Scott became so much more than a handyman to us, and he singlehandedly did every home improvement project in this house for the first 14 years we lived here. He could do it all—carpentry, electrical, plumbing—he was the first call whenever there was a problem. He liked to work with Hans, and preferred to come when Hans was going to be available to help with the project. Project days always ended with a couple of beers and a lot of complaining about our house. He was such a special friend that, for my birthday one year, Hans gave me a day of Scott. Scott was at my beck and call to tackle any project I had in mind for one single day. It was the best gift ever!

I called Scott from the cordless house phone in a panic since I wanted to stop the water before it creeped over to where the carpeting started. Since he couldn't diagnose the problem without being there, he told me to go downstairs and shut off the main power which would also shut off any pumps around the house. I ran back downstairs while he was on the phone, yanked the chain to turn on the overhead bulb, then pulled down the main power lever. Everything went dead, including the cordless phone. I went upstairs to make sure Abby was OK, but it did seem that whatever water had been running had now stopped.

About 10 minutes later, a van screeched to a halt out in the driveway. Scott came racing into the house calling my name. Abby and I were sitting at the kitchen table finishing up our lunch and were shocked to see him. He was thoroughly relieved to see us because he thought I was dead. When I pulled the lever and the power went out, I didn't have a way to call Scott back, so I figured he'd know all was OK. He thought, though, that I might have been standing in water when I pulled the lever and was now just a fried piece of charcoal in a murky puddle. What he forgot, however, was that because of my petite 5'2" stature, I had to get a plastic stool to even reach the handle. I was safely out of the water and enjoying my lunch while he drove like a madman from Bedford to Carlisle to make sure I was OK. By the time Hans got home, the leak was fixed and the water sopped up from the basement floor. Scott was my hero!

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