Murphy certainly has a law about this. I’m quite certain about it. We weren’t even through the first 12-hours of the 72-hour shift my husband was pulling in an effort to make some headway with the mound of bills that’s grown, when I discovered the geyser.
Okay, maybe a geyser isn’t the correct word, but a very big spray of water was spewing from water faucet out back. Yeah, the very same one that had the automatic timer and hose connected. The same set-up that we used during the (much) warmer months to water the newly seeded far back quadrant of our lawn and a nifty little jerry-rigged drip system for our tomatoes. The same one that I’m pretty sure I mentioned to my husband needed to be disconnected before the frost set in.
And he has the nerve to tease me about procrastinating.
Now, I’m not a complete “girl” when it comes to fixing things around the house. I can change a complete deadlock system and tumbler within five minutes flat, install a faucet, re-hang a door and much more. And I knew right away not only that the water had to be turned off, but even where to turn it off. I tried the exterior shut-off valve that supposedly shuts off just the exterior valves, but that didn’t work. I suppose that has to do with the addition that was done ten years before we even bought the house about four years ago. The same remodel job that overlooked having to put in a clean-out and proper lids over the septic, but I digress.
I raced up front and had the valve off in a matter of minutes. It looked like I could just tighten the faucet to the hose bib. Alas, no such luck. The damn thing moved and moved and moved. Apparently the threading was stripped. I’m not sure how, but that was my guess. An uneducated guess. We attempted to dry off the hose bib thoroughly and wrapped some plumbing tape around it to see if that would encourage it to tighten, but that was about as useful as yanking a tooth out of a rabid coyote’s mouth.
“Hey, Mom, can’t we use some of that molding clay that loud mouth on TV advertises?” Ry-guy suggested.
“Oh please,” Z-dude retorted. “That junk won’t do anything more than make a mess.”
“Actually, it just might work,” I said hopefully. I had bought it initially to repair a hole in a water bucket and that seemed to hold well.
Armed with flashlights, towels, wrench, gloves and Mighty Magic Putty we applied the first glob of goo then waited for an hour. When the time came, we set up an elaborate relay between the front of the property at the water shut-off valve, a mid-point and the faucet. The plan was to have one kid turn the water on while I was standing with a flashlight aimed at the faucet, looking for any signs of leakage. The second kid was there to relay to the first if there was a need to shut the water off. Problem was, kid #1 didn’t know how to turn it on. And the second problem? The water still poured out. Note that it poured, it didn’t spray.
At least we were making progress.
Having scooped all of the ice out of the fridge so we’d have drinking water for the night, the faucet dried again and another glob of goo wrapped into place, I sent the kids off to bed. The next plan was to turn on the water shortly before I went to bed and at least long enough to shower before hitting the hay.
Again, it was unsuccessful and I worried that by turning off the water overnight we could run the risk of bigger problems, yet leaving it on, I also worried that more damage would come to the side of the house. I called the 24-hour-service number for a plumber at 2:56 a.m. She was very cheerful and said she’d page the on-duty plumber who’d call me back in a few minutes.
Eyelids drooping as I held the phone in my hand, thumb poised over the “talk” button, time marched on and no phone call. I finally called back at 3:30 and informed the still cheerful woman that I would prefer the plumber call me in the morning so as not to disturb my sleeping children. She said she would pass that along and someone would be calling between 8 and 9 a.m.
I woke to my alarm at 7 and quickly got around and ready so that when the plumber called, I would be ready. Eight came and went. Nine was there a few moments later and still, nothing. By 9:10 I was calling other plumbers. When one service said they’d have someone over during normal business hours (I was calling on a Saturday) and I said thanks, but I needed it taken care of now and next time I’d keep that in mind and insist the pipes burst during business hours. Sure, she might not have deserved that, but at that point I figured that had to have been on the requirements for the job position: able to withstand terse responses from customers.
At 9:20 as I was getting ready to call a plumber I was referred to, my phone rang. It was the service calling that I had called earlier that morning. They’d have someone over right away.
By 9:45 when still no one was here, I called the referral and was halfway through my conversation when the doorbell rang. You guessed it, it was the plumber, the same one that was supposed to have been calling me back at 3:10 a.m. Apparently the service dropped the ball and I got a “discount” out of the deal (saved me over $75) as well as a lot of apologies from him and his boss who called me shortly afterwards. It took the plumber a lousy 15 minutes to repair the leak, another 3 minutes to peel the crappy goop I’d put on the night before, all at the cost of $10 a minute.
Less than 24 hours later, our furnace stopped working.
So how do you fix a burst water pipe? Simple. Break the furnace and you break the cycle. Still not enough? Well then, prevention. Remove all hoses before the frost comes.