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[personal profile] gerisullivan
When I closed last night's post by saying "Other trials, travails, adventures, and more can wait for other posts", I was referring to events of my recent past, not those awaiting in my soon-to-be-future. Really. Truly, I was.

Alas, Friday brought another homeowner's nightmare my way. Even though it was bitterly cold Thursday night, I'd turned off the basement space heaters before turning in around 3:30 am. I don't mind having them running downstairs when I'm awake in the living room, and can check on them every little while, but running them all night while sleeping two floors away just seemed to be inviting trouble.

So when I woke after sleeping for six hours, I immediately headed downstairs to start the heaters again. Only to be greeted by a flooded basement.

I closed the water line feeding the boiler, only to have it immediately fire up. Double damn. I ran upstairs, turned the thermostats down, then re-opened the water valves when the boiler kept running. I called Boiler Guy, who said he'd be right over. The boiler finally switched off, so I closed the valves, then went to work moving boxes and chairs off the wet areas of carpet in the fan room, and doing a quick triage on the toy room, which seemed mostly dry. All the while, I tried to figure out where the water came from. A burst pipe was most likely, but all the water seemed to be on the floor, eight feet below the frozen, zone 1 boiler pipe.

Boiler Guy Larry (the business owner, a few years older than me and none too wiry) arrived shortly thereafter. He was as bewildered as me. Since all the visible walls were dry, our attention turned to the crawl space underneath the mudroom. But we still couldn't figure out how so much water ended up on the floor without any sign of dampness in the walls.

Young (and limber) Boiler Guy Rich called his boss and Larry told him to head on over. Soon Rich's feet were following the rest of his body into the crawl space. Larry's no dummy. That's what young and limber employees are for.

No water there -- the soil and joists were bone dry. The pipes don't appear to be bulging, either. Good news, indeed, but the mystery of the water wasn't solved until I looked outdoors. For the last 2.5 years, the backwashing drains on the water treatment system (berm filter, neutralizer, and water softener) fed into the downspout under the deck. Today, the drain tubes were hanging loose, and it was obvious the system had backwashed last night, with all the water cascading down along the concrete wall, entering the basement under the edge of the basement door. (It's a walkout basement.) Looking in from the outside, it was easy to see the flow pattern in a mudswirl just inside the door; the signs of the water's source were obvious even without the extra layer of dirty ice that hadn't been there Thursday afternoon when I showed Rich were he could empty a bucket of water from the boiler.

One mystery solved. Splish-splash.

Boiler Guys left after disconnecting the Zone 1 pump (to protect it from burning out while the pipe is still frozen), and I went digging through paperwork to find the phone number and pertinent names for Well/Water Treatment Guy. Yep, Justin was still with the company. I knew I was okay as long as the system didn't backwash again, and I'd confirmed all three timers were set correctly. Backwashing is set to happen in the middle of the night, so waiting for Justin to return from lunch wasn't going to be a problem. I went downstairs and started mopping.

Justin noticed a spare piece of PVC pipe next to my well pump, and rigged up a temporary drainage system. It should work until the large mound of ice it's resting on melts. By then, I should be able to reconnect the original drainage system, propping it up with a couple of bricks to keep the slope right. This year's ice pulled a connecting piece lower than the drain pipe. Draining water then froze in place, pulling the pieces still further apart. Not that I'm looking forward to crawling up that icy, muddy, slippery slope and squeezing in under the deck joists when the time comes.

I made sure the space heaters were on dry ground and started them back up. For good measure, I turned on the dehumidifier, hoping it would suck some of the water out of the carpet. I'm expecting it will take until warm weather season for me to discover whether the carpet in the fan room needs to be replaced. The sooner it dries, the less likely it is that mold and mildew will grow. That's what I'm hoping, at least.

A few hours later, I finally remembered that I bought a shop vac a few months back, and that shop vacs suck water as well as dirt. It was still in the box, in the garage. Some assembly required, but it was soon pulling water out of the still-sodden parts of the carpeted floor.

So, that was my day.

It's supposed to warm up for the next several days; living without heat on the first floor is already much more comfortable than it was yesterday, and it's just going to get better. For a while, at least. Long enough for the pipe to thaw, I hope.

Boiler Guys are coming back Monday or Tuesday and we'll see whether or not Zone 1 works then. Well/Water Treatment Guy is coming back Wednesday morning -- the berm filter needs servicing and he's going to re-configure the system so water goes through the neutralizer first. That's unrelated to the flooding problem, but yet another issue we discovered when doing a test backwash to confirm the temporary drain was working correctly. I don't yet have a clue about how much all these service calls are going to cost, or how much more will be involved in resolving all of the problems on a long-term basis. I am deeply relieved this is my third winter here in the Zeppelin Hangar rather than my first. Experience has already proven I'm not in for this every winter. Now all I have to do is get through the rest of this mess.

Geri Sullivan, Girl Homeowner. Oh, the joys.

Current temperature: 64 (living room) Without a fire, even. I can live with that.
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