Monday, April 4, 2011

    These new homes are real killers

    Saturday we wanted to knock out a bit of yard work before another storm rolled in, so Tai mowed the lawn for the first time this season, then put down a fertilizer/herbicide, while I cleared a spot to plant a peach tree. We got those finished up and were about to start laying weed barrier fabric on our dirt stretches in the front yard when Tai went inside and stepped in this:

    We had a similar puddle on the other side of that wall in our mud room. Water was seeping throughout the west end of our first floor via all the micro cracks (you can see that in the picture). Lots and lots of panic ensued. Can we avoid swollen dry wall? How deep is the leak? Which pipe is it? Will the baseboard be ok? Why is our entire first floor weeping? How the #$%^ did this happen? Why do these things always happen on the weekends? Etc.

    We did what we always do in these situations, which is call Tai's dad for a dose of serenity and reassurance before tearing into the wall. The wall that divides the kitchen and the mud room is a shear wall, meaning that it's faced with plywood for stability in the event of an earthquake, meaning that even if we cut into the drywall we will have a lot of depth and structural stuff to cut through to get to the plumbing in the guts of the wall. One side of that wall was covered with kitchen cabinets and a counter top, and the other side had some lovely brand-new cabinets. Remember these?

    They shortly looked like this:

    Tai and his dad (who graciously and cheerfully gave up his Saturday to come help us) actually pulled the counter top off as well in order to cut a hole near where we knew the leak was coming from.

    We thought that the problem wasn't in the regular house plumbing because we hadn't done anything unusual lately and hadn't gotten a leak until Saturday. The only thing we did Saturday that we don't normally do is use the hose (to water the nascent peach tree) -- Tai's first thought is that he had somehow punctured the hose supply line while hanging the cabinetry last week. As it turns out, it was a burst hose bib -- most likely my fault, from not properly draining and emptying and disconnecting the hose at some point during the winter. 


    Tai and his dad confirmed this theory after cutting into the wall near the hose bib connection in the mud room. They chopped off the hose bib, which is a long length of copper pipe sheathing that goes deep into an interior wall -- so as to prevent exactly this type of freeze-burst! -- with a bit of pex tubing coming out the interior wall side for the water supply.

    After a couple of trips to England Plumbing (seriously, they are the best) for the correct size replacement bib and a tool rental, they were happily cutting into the bones of the house and installing the new part.

    We are no longer leaking, but we're not putting the cabinetry back together until we can fill in the hole with some foam for insulation of the hose connector. And I shall train myself from now on to always, always, always turn off the water and disconnect the hose. (Oops.)

    I sheepishly stayed out of the way during the repairs and tried to make myself useful in other ways. So I got some of the weed fabric down -- turns out that you're supposed to get rid of all the weeds first, so I spent much of the afternoon on my hands and knees digging up all sorts of nasty little things. Then, I roughly graded the covered spots and finally tacked down the fabric:

    We're hoping that this stuff makes life a little easier -- so far our greatest gardening successes have been the quantity and variety of weeds our yard supports. Sooner rather than later we hope to layer a lot of mulch on top, and we're hoping for a few plants down the road as well. We also got our lawn aerated cheaply by some folks trolling the neighborhood for business, meaning that now we do not need to spend several hours and $ grabbing a Home Depot rental aerator. The peach tree that (sort of) started it all:

    So lesson learned: I said we were going to blog more, and the universe said, "You want to blog more? I'll give you something to blog about!" Then, right as this all was starting to develop, I mentioned to Tai that if nothing else this will make a good story, and he said, "I'm TIRED of having good stories." Here's hoping for nothing but boring updates for the rest of the season.

    (And thanks to the friends/family who called or stopped by after reading my panicked Facebook status update. You guys are the best.)


    todd said...
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    todd said...

    Good job fixing stuff! I hope things get boring-er from here on out.

    And the comment I deleted was the above with a spelling errrrrorrr!

    amelia said...

    Boo. I hate plumbing problems. We're right by England Plumbing...and I have yet to go inside. I'll have to stop in now with that glowing recommendation!

    april said...

    I'm sorry you had to rip into your new wall and disassemble the cabinets to fix the leak! Plumbing problems are the worst.

    Diane said...