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    Wednesday, February 21, 2007

    The Wet Slippery Slope of Home Ownership

    Sunday I was sitting in my living room. I had turned off the TV and was reading the paper. I heard a >drip-splash< -- and I thought that can't be good. So I stood up to listen for it again. With each drip-splash, I moved closer to the source and found, in the breakfast nook, that there was a leak in the window frame between the window and the storm window, and that an inch of water had pooled at the bottom. Thus the splash.

    Not coincidentally, I am sure, was the fact that the basement wall under that part of the house was also dripping, and there was water trickles showing up on my basement floor. Grrrrr. I mopped up the basement water, and then I went back to the nook window.

    Naturally the window had been painted shut. I never had to open that window before. So first I had to work it open. Then I soaked up the pool of water. But this didn't stop the drip. I noticed how warm I was by the window, the sun beating down through the glass. I figured the water was coming from the roof. I went outside and sure enough, the icsicles hanging off the gutters were dripping like mad. Better remove them!

    I could hear my mom's voice reminding me that kids get killed by falling icsicles -- adults too. I could picture Ralphie almost shooting his eye out with the Red Rider BB Gun and blaming it on an icsicle. I opened the garage to look for something I could throw up two stories to knock down the ice. A football! If only I could find one. No. Instead I found the Coleman gas canister to my portable grill. About the size of a football. Hmmmm.

    OK, this is going to sound really dumb, but, I took the gas cannister and started throwing it at the gutter. Do I sound like I am going to end up on the Darwin Awards yet? I knocked down some ice and managed not to puncture the gas cannister when I decided there must be a better way. I eyeballed the screenporch -- yes I'll go out on the screenroof and knock down the ice.

    Of course, the screen porch had about 3 feet of snow piled on it. And the door to the screen porch opens out. So I went upstairs and opened the door -- about 3 inches. Luckily, the porch door has two windows on it that pop out fairly easily (so that they can be replaced with screens in the summer). I popped out the bottom window, and started digging a path for the door using my hands.

    Once I got the door open enough that I could step out on the roof. I tried not to worry about how much weight the roof could bear, what with all the wet snow piled on top of it. I went out there with my shovel, and started knocking the ice from the gutter. Got a whole lot of it down, too. And the dripping in the window slowed down considerably -- enough that I felt like I had accomplished something. Yay!

    The next day, Gina called me. She went to the house after she got off from work. Apparently there was water leaking in the basement again. Only this time, there was water on the floor under the basement steps, where I keep the cat box. The cat box was full of water, and the litter all clumped. What a treat! And more water was dripping from the light fixture above the cat box. The light fixture! Electricity and water!

    I went home and investigated. The landing halfway to the top of the basement steps is also where the sidedoor of the house is. The floor was absolutely saturated. Aha. I thought, we've tracked in so much snow that it is now leaking through the mat, through the carpet, and through the floor. We'll just have to start using the backdoor through the screenporch, and let this dry out.

    I thought I was so smart, but I misdiagnosed it. For you see, besides the side door, also at that landing is the first floor bathroom. It is a tiny half bath that I like to refer to as the "maternity bath" because it is so small that you can sit on the toilet and throw up into the sink at the same time. Great for parties. And during a party a few months ago, a candle (and candle wax) fell into it that little sink. And ever since, the drain is very slow and prone to clogging. I think I need to just replace the trap, but have I done that? No. Instead I limp along with the sink, and pour drain opener in it whenever it backs up.

    So once again, the sink had backed up. Only this time, the hot water faucet had been left dripping. And sure enough, the sink was overflowing all over the floor.

    Well, so much for the "snow tracked in" theory. I blotted the water best I could. I went to Target for drain opener and kitty litter. I put a space heater on the toilet to warm up the bathroom, and put a fan in the stairwell to air it out.

    And a day later, the floor was dry... whew. And the sink, unclogged. Yes.

    So this morning, I got up and went downstairs to use the bathroom. No sense destroying the bathroom you want to shower in and get ready in, if you know what I mean. I do my business and flush.

    And the toilet tank starts pouring water all over the floor.

    I am only half awake, so what do I do? I flush the toilet again to observe more closely what's going on. And again, the water was going only partly into the bowl from the tank. The rest of it was streaming out from where the tank and throne meet, and pouring all over the carpeting once again. Which reminded me, whose flippin idea was it to carpet the bathroom? The house came this way! But duh!

    So I turned off the water on the line leading to the toilet. My neighbor recommended a plumber. Or maybe I will try to do it myself. Hahahahahahahahaha. What treats await me? I have visions of having to replace the toilet, then discovering that the subfloor is rotted and needs replacing too, and having to rebuild the floor, recover the floor (with tile this time, dammit) and then replacing the toilet. And I still have to fix the trap in the sink. There is this little waxball that I can see in the drain whenever it backs up -- it floats up to where I can see it, but can't quite get to it because of the drain cover.

    On the bright side of things, at least I have one toilet still up and running. So it isn't really a crisis just yet.

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    Comments on "The Wet Slippery Slope of Home Ownership"


    Anonymous Noelle said ... (11:13 AM, February 22, 2007) : 

    wow. a true comedy of errors. I couldn't help thinking (as a fellow home owner) 'better him....'.
    Thanks for the laugh today!


    Blogger Gina Ventre said ... (12:50 PM, February 22, 2007) : 

    P-lease do not throw gas cannisters of any sort at any sort of thing ever again. Or at least don't do it while I'm there.

    I won't soon forget the perfect, fluorescent droplet of water hanging from the lightbulb.


    Anonymous Kathleen said ... (2:59 PM, February 22, 2007) : 

    So sorry about all your house troubles. It's stories like these though that make me very wary of home ownership.


    Blogger Audient said ... (3:09 PM, February 22, 2007) : 

    It wasn't like it was a full cannister. But still.

    Home ownership is great most of the time. Just that instead of calling the landlord, you call the plumber yourself.


    Blogger Carmen said ... (3:47 PM, February 22, 2007) : 

    Seriously. Who throws a gas canister at icsicles?


    Blogger anne said ... (10:12 AM, February 23, 2007) : 

    Instead of "you'll shoot your eye out!", the movie version of how you died would say "you'll blow yourself up!"

    Eeesh. This reminds me of some of the few perks of living in an apt. Very few, but still.

    I love doing home projects though, so if it does come crashing down, give me a call. I can hang drywall like a champ!


    Anonymous Evil John said ... (9:18 PM, March 01, 2007) : 

    You've already decided you'll never run for office, yes?

    I need to know whether to keep a copy of this, or not.


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