Water leak doesn’t empty my glass
It sometimes takes a series of unfortunate occurrences to make you realize just how lucky you are. This became abundantly clear to me around the middle of February.
I had decided to take a short break from writing this column after celebrating the New Year. My short break became longer when the “leak” happened.
I noticed the fancy, new water softener in my garage was regenerating in the middle of the day and thought perhaps its clock had been reset following a power outage.
However I found the clock to be keeping accurate time. Directly below the clock’s digital readout is another digital display measuring water flow. All the faucets and other plumbing in my house were off yet there was about one-half gallon per minute of water flowing through the softener. This couldn’t be good.
After some additional research, aka fumbling around, I determined I likely had a slab leak. The 37-year-old copper piping underneath my home’s concrete slab had finally succumbed to father time. What’s a homeowner to do? My first action was to call plumber #1.
He arrived and agreed with my diagnosis and spent nearly three hours wearing headphones and carrying a suction cup on a stick in search of the leak. He finally gave up and recommended another business that specialized in locating leaks.
The next day (a Saturday) a professional leak detector showed up and, within 30 minutes, determined the leak was in a cold water line in the middle of our living room.
Next came the “choice.” We have continuous flooring throughout our house and pulling it up to jackhammer through the slab and repair the leak might end up costing us a small fortune. It was possible we would have to replace flooring throughout the house. The choice became academic when the leak expanded to the hot water line and increased to about two gallons per minute. We were headed for a whole-house replumb.
Plumber #1 could put us on the schedule in two weeks. So we hired plumber #2 who could begin in a few days. Until the replumb began we were living in our home and turning on the water main only when needed, about 6-10 times per day. Throughout the ordeal we prayed our leak would not turn into a flood. Ultimately our prayers were answered.
We spent four days in a hotel on the beach while the work was being accomplished. Our dogs spent a week’s vacation time at Cindy’s Retreat for Dogs. They were clueless but happy.
During this process we were working with a home restoration company and our insurance company in an attempt to mitigate disruptions, costs and potential damage. Maybe I’ll talk about these experiences in another column someday.
We are now back in our home with brand new PEX pipe running through the attic to our sinks, tubs, toilets, appliances and bibs. The copper piping under our slab has been retired.
The plumber had to cut 20 holes in our drywall, which has since been repaired and painted. Our cold-water taps are initially a little warmer when the sun shines on our roof and the attic heats up. We will likely need to be cautious in the summer to avoid “cold water” burns.
But our adventure was not completely done. Last week we experienced a circuit breaker repeatedly flipping and called an electrician to replace it. When he opened our panel he noted some melting around one of the main terminals and recommended it be rewired with new breakers. I like fire even less than flooding and told the electrician to proceed. So now we have new pipes and new wiring. I have resisted the urge to ask, “what’s next?”
Stuff happens and I try to roll with the punches. With a wonderful wife and daughter sharing my life in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, my glass is more than half full.