Plumbing Adventures #12

Ever since we moved into our house, we have had a long series of adventures with plumbing.  This weekend brought about adventure #12. (Yes, I really have been keeping count)  Since we have a well, we have extra plumbing that others might not, including a filtration system and pressure tank.  Our plumbing adventures have ranged from simple repairs to what could have been expensive damages.

Some of our adventures in the past have included:
  • New hot water tank since the old one was rusted through
  • Replacing the thermostat and heating element in the new hot water tank
  • Leaking kitchen sink drain.  Replaced faucet and drain
  • Leaking toilets
  • Water supply line broke in basement. Luckily we were home when this happened
  • Icemaker installation (Who doesn't plumb a newer house for an icemaker?)
  • Water filtration system (numerous times) draining the entire system and replacing pipes
  • Water valve in supply line in basement cracked
The adventure this weekend could have been the worst so far.  We started on the upgrade of the bathrooms and began tearing out everything in the bathroom.  After shutting off the water at valves under the sink and removing the sink and faucet, Mr Roberts began prying the cabinet away from the wall to cut through side and remove the cabinet.  Suddenly, both of the water supply lines snapped off behind the valves sending water shooting across the room.

So, I quickly tried to run down two flights of steps to get to the circuit breaker in the basement.  Since we are on a well, shutting off the well pump stops the supply of water.  However, there is still enough water and pressure in the lines to continue to supply limited water.  I had just barely shut off the water in the basement, when water began pouring into the basement.  I knew that there wasn't enough water to be running down steps or across the floors and quickly discovered that gravity works really fast.  All the water that had come shooting out the supply lines upstairs was now running back down the outside of those lines inside the walls and pouring into the basement.

After about 10 minutes of putting containers under leaks the dripping slowly stopped.  Now I had water across my basement and water in the upstairs bathroom.  Mr Roberts quickly went to cleaning up the bathroom while I worked on the basement.

I knew that quick action would keep this from becoming a disaster.  Since the laundry room is in the basement, I grabbed the baskets of dirty clothes and starting throwing all the cottons on the floor to absorb the water.  I and the children found all the box fans and an electric heater and set them up in the wet areas.  Meanwhile, Mr Roberts had cut a 3' X 3' hole in the wall to remove the water that had gotten in the wall.

Two hours later and only a few wet spots on the ceiling in the main floor of the house, most of the water was dried up.  The only area still damp was the subfloor in the bathroom.  But, now we had a dry house with no water and no way to turn it back on without repeating the flooding. While we do keep a supply of plumbing materials on hand, we didn't have near enough to do two full valve replacements.  So, we headed off for a trip to town to buy the plumbing supplies and drywall required to repair the mess.

Since I can almost call myself an expert at unexpected plumbing problems, here are my suggestions for keeping them from becoming disasters.

 Know how to turn off the water and electric to your home.  Check to make sure your circuit breaker is marked correctly and where the main water valve is for your home. 

1. Quickly try to absorb any water.  Use towels, sheets or when those run out cotton clothes such as t-shirts.
2. Use fans or electric heaters with fans to get air moving across the area. (Use heaters on low or fan since high heat encourages mold.)
3. Be sure that no electronics are affected or sitting in standing water.

More Water Emergency Tips

If you don't keep drinking water on hand, you should think about it.  Being at home all day with no running water is a challenge.  Keeping water on hand means that everyone can wash their hands, humans and pets have something to drink and toilets can be flushed.


  1. Oh dear! That was quick thinking to use the laundry to soak up the water. I'm glad that you didn't get a lot of damage, and I hope that you have running water (in the right places) soon!

    - Kay

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