“There is a flood in the basement.” My wife’s tone was apologetic because I was still in bed.
“I picked up a tray of broccoli, and when I went to get water from the bathroom, before turning on the light, I was walking in the water,” Honey said, adding: “In my socks.”
I understood, even with a brain that still lingered in the last dream of the night. Honey has seedlings under grow lights in the basement.
I yawned, pulled back the covers, quietly swung my legs off the bed and looked at the clock. He was pushing 7. It was time to get up anyway.
Honey pulled dry socks from her dresser and put on her plastic Crocs. Appropriate footwear for a flooded basement.
“I scraped the water for a while. I went up because I was cold,” she says. “I think it’s the hot water tank. I could see it sink.
The drip was good. Gushing would have been bad. Dripping was time for half a cup of coffee.
“A flood in the basement.” How many times have I heard these words. The causes vary. A leak in the toilet. A spray pipe in the rock face. The bathtub drain comes apart.
When we built the house, we wisely installed a central floor drain and smoothed the concrete floor in the basement with a power trowel. I wonder: do other people keep floor squeegees ready in their basements?
It only occurred to me much later that it happened on Friday April 1st. A different woman in a parallel universe might have told an April Fool’s joke to get me out of bed. Practical jokes are not honey. Not even remotely.
WHEN I BUILT our geodesic dome home 40 years ago, I plumbed it myself with polybutylene, a flexible gray plastic pipe with compression fittings.
No copper pipe. No soldered joints to sweat. Cut the pipe with a sharp knife. Slide it through the holes in the joists as if pulling an electric wire. Tighten fittings with channel locks.
A model could do it. A model did.
You wouldn’t know or care unless you worked in home construction between the late 1970s and mid-1990s, or your own home was built with polybutylene plumbing. . You’ve probably never heard of the billion dollar class action lawsuits, all of which have since expired. We haven’t tried to take advantage of any of them.
We’ve had a few leaks attributable to the polybutylene, but Thursday’s flood had nothing to do with it, other than me having to hook up a new water heater to the tangle of gray pipes and T-joints that bring water from our well and take it to different parts of the house. Any real plumber seeing it would laugh or be moved with pity.
“Was this our original water heater? » Honey asked.
For 40 years? I’m sure I replaced it at least once.
THE MOST RECENT WATER HEATER I installed was in the garage and only a few months ago. It replaced one from 1994 when we built the garage and apartment above. I call it our garage which has become a house. Uncle Sweetland lived there for eight years. Seed and Miss T began their married life there. Then he sat unoccupied for years, until Worshrag returned home just before the coronavirus. This water heater died last fall when he and his new wife Busy Bee went to clean up. Then they moved to North Carolina.
Before the freezing weather set in, I drained the polybutylene water lines and the hot water tank in the garage, and shut off the well.
“You could pull the new water heater out of the garage,” Honey suggested.
“It’s too high. I need the same size to match the plumbing,” I said, like I was even going to think about uninstalling the tank from the garage. Besides, the grandsons talk about living there.
Builders Wholesale just down the street had the same size water heater in stock for $600. No supply chain delays, much to my relief. The store still has a weird little box of polybutylene fittings on a shelf from all those years ago. I buy all the ones I find at garage sales and needed them for the new tank.
When I ripped off the fiberglass insulation sheath, I saw that our old radiator was very rusty, almost falling apart.
“Looks like you pulled your serve from this one,” said the man from the recycling center.
Before plugging in the new water heater, I had another cup of coffee and flipped through the instruction manual. It was worthless, not much but safety warnings and warnings. I went to the internet for what I needed to know.
Honey had just left the dentist at two o’clock in the afternoon when I called to let her know that the water was back and the new heater seemed to be working. Fans were drying the floor.
“Wasn’t that what you planned to do today, was it, darling?” she said sympathetically.
I’m glad I plugged it in and it works. Happy April Fools to me.