Thursday, May 8, 2014

Apparently, I Am Due for Trouble

I've had a nice reprieve from random hassles for a while and was lulled into a sense of complacency.  I made the mistake of booking myself up with activities and appointments all week, actually believing that I could have the freedom to follow through on what I had planned.  Well, right on cue, all hell broke loose.  Anytime I have one thing go wrong, I cringe because I know I can never be graced with just one problem at a time.  Usually, the first problem is just the sound of the floodgates breaking open.

It all started with the toilet.  Over the past year, my husband has been having to replace parts within the toilet tank, because it wouldn't stop running after it was flushed.  Finally, the flushing arm broke, and he just replaced everything inside the tank.  It worked beautifully for a couple of weeks, but then I started noticing that the toilet was running again after it had shut itself off after a flush, and air bubbles were coming up from the drain.

Soon after that, air was coming out of the faucets.  I knew there had to be a leak in the pipes somewhere, but couldn't find any evidence of water damage.  I figured it was under the house or underground and it was never a convenient time to have a plumber digging up our yard.  Then last night I kept hearing popping and squealing sounds in the walls.  I looked all around the house for water leaks, but couldn't find any.

The dogs kept distracting me from my efforts to investigate the noises, because they repeatedly pestered me to take them outside, and then didn't do anything once I got them out there.  Stewie kept running into the bedroom and growling.  Then I remembered that the dogs had been previously dragging me to a spot on the porch and sniffing.  I figured there was an animal under there, but perhaps a water pipe was leaking and the smell of wet soil was getting the dogs' attention.  At any rate, it was late at night, so I told myself I'd look under the porch in the morning.  Some scary stuff lives under there, and I didn't want to risk it with a flashlight.  Little did I know, finding that huge scorpion in the garage was a bigger clue as to what was to come.

I got really sleepy and climbed into bed only to shoot upright.  Something smelled horrible and I was all wet.  I turned on the light to find that Stewie had pissed all over my side of the bed and now I stunk like dog urine.  He had been having about a 90% success rate in peeing outside for the past few weeks, and to pee so excessively, and on the bed, was a major backslide in his potty training.  I stripped the bed, shoved everything in the washer, but knew I couldn't start washing the linens because of the water leak.  The washer uses a ton of water and I was sure that if a pipe hadn't already burst, it would if I did a load of laundry.

Then I looked for fresh sheets and couldn't find a complete set, which meant I had to sleep with just a fitted bottom sheet and no top sheet.  I wrote on my To Do List to order two new sets of sheets that are hot weather friendly.  I did have one complete set of flannel sheets, but it was just too hot for them.  One more thing to donate to charity since I don't live in a cold climate anymore.

Despite changing the sheets, I still noticed an odd metallic stench in the air, but couldn't track it down.  I knew I had to call a plumber first thing in the morning, because not only did I have piss linens to wash, but I was running out of clean clothes.  Stewie did not come into the bedroom the rest of the night, and I figured it was because he was afraid I was mad at him.  I woke up in the morning, put on the dogs' leashes, stepped down into the garage to take them outside, and slipped on something wet.  I turned on the light and found that the garage was flooded.  Awesome.

I searched the Internet for 24/7 emergency plumbers, and everyone I called did not answer their phone so I left messages.  I had several messages out there and no one called me back, so I started looking around for the source of the flood.  It was the water heater.  It's so obvious now that I think about it and probably should have been the first thing I examined when the original symptoms showed up.  My daughter researched what needed to be done to shut off the water heater.  We found the water shut off, but it took a bit of troubleshooting with the fuse boxes before she found the right switch to cut off the electricity to it.

She took what she needed to handle her personal hygiene to work and used the bathroom there.  I wasn't willing to take a cold shower, or use any water for that matter until I knew what all the plumbing problems were, and I had a trail ride scheduled for the day.  I hoped a plumber would call back and be able to start on the repairs before P.S. came, so that I could still ride with her.  This could be our last trail ride together for a while, because the temperatures will be in the triple digits next week.

After hassling with sorting through moldy hay, I sat down to work on my computer while waiting for a plumber to respond to my message, and my computer crashed.  I started thinking about how much money we are going to have to spend this month on unexpected home repairs, unexpected medical bills, and the registrations of all our vehicles, and felt sick to my stomach.  Why can problems just spread themselves out?

I got my computer fixed, and then a plumber finally called and said the soonest he could get someone out was in two to three hours, because they first had to get a new water heater for us.  Considering that he returned my call two hours after I left my message, and considering how long it would probably take to make the repairs, it was looking like a seven hour wait for hot water.  (It turned out to be a nine hour wait.)  I told him that I thought this problem went beyond just a burst water heater, and that we had air in our pipes before the water heater burst, and he assured me they would check the flow.

I realized that the reason why the dogs were acting so obnoxious that night was because they were hearing the water heater leaking and the pipe noises, in addition to smelling that metallic hot water stench, and they knew something was wrong.  That's probably why Stewie was growling.  I'll bet he peed all over the bed because he was scared.

When the plumber who was actually doing the work called to let me know he had my water heater and was on the way, we had a bad connection.  He kept telling me how many minutes away he was, but each time he said the number, the connection would cut out.  I needed to know, because I didn't want to lock the dogs up if it was going to be a while.  I gave up trying to hear the number of minutes he was repeating, and I just locked the dogs up.  Of course, he showed up an hour and a half later.  I thought, "What's the point of calling and saying you are on your way if you aren't anywhere near my place?"

It felt like just a delay tactic to me.  He was already an hour behind his scheduled time, and he probably didn't want me to give up on him and call another plumber.  It turned out that his office wasn't even anywhere near my home.  I was under the impression, based on their ad, that they were local.  Had I known that, I would have just waited until 8:00 AM and called my usual local plumber when he was open for business instead of looking for emergency service at 5:00 AM.

I didn't hear the guy doing any work, so I walked outside and found him just sitting in his van reading a book.  I was thinking, "WTF?  I'm paying this guy good money by the hour!"

He saw me and got all embarrassed, and explained that he had to wait half an hour for my old water heater to drain.  Ummmm, had I realized this was part of the process, I could have hooked up a hose to it and drained it myself before he came, rather than paying him by the hour sit in his van and wait.  That would have been good information to pass on to me when I talked to them on the phone.  So, I talked with him about the toilet running and air in the pipes issues, and he said that is usually a problem with the water softener pumping air into the pipes.  He asked how long ago we changed the water softener filter.  I didn't know, but texted my husband to find out.  He didn't respond because he had to have his phone turned off for a class he was taking.

So, the plumber offered to go get a filter for me and change it himself.  I said thank you, and as he ran off, he mentioned that he had to get it from his office.  I stood there stunned, because that would be a minimum of an hour trip time on the road.  I didn't understand why he couldn't have just bought one at the hardware store in town, but he was gone before I could question his methods.

An hour later he returned with the filter, but said we really need to get a whole new water softener system, which costs a little less than $2,000.  I did my research, and he was right.  We were long overdue for a new system.  However, I knew we were racking up quite a big bill already with this water heater incident, so I settled on just changing the filter, and then getting a new softener system in six months.  I don't think we can wait any longer than that, because if the water softener system isn't working properly, we could end up having to replace all the pipes and plumbing fixtures in our house due to resin build up.  While water softeners are a luxury in some parts of the country, they are a necessity in Arizona.  I'm learning that a lot of household appliances only have a lifetime of about 10 years, so buying a house that was 10 years old was probably not the brightest idea.  The lady who sold us the house was a real estate agent, and I'm sure she knew exactly what she was doing.  Oh well, live and learn.

The other thing I learned is that I need to get Stewie socialized.  He was so scared of the plumber that I thought he was going to start peeing all over himself.  He has a very narrow comfort zone.  If I try to take him for a walk to the mailbox in the front yard, he fights me on the leash the whole way.  But I kind of think that's a good thing, because if he ever slips out a door, we won't have to worry about him running into the street or the desert.

So, everything is resolved for now, but I never got to take that trail ride.  I know.  You're probably thinking, "Awww, poor baby," sarcastically after most of you have been in hibernation and unable to ride your horses for the past six months while I've been riding pretty much every other day.  All bad things will come to end for my friends up north, while all good things must come to an end for me.

What was the significance of the scorpion?  Well, I suspect it was living behind the water heater and it got flushed out when the water heater started leaking.  Also, I have noticed this pattern in which my quality of life starts going downhill as soon as the scorpions come out.  It's hard to explain, but there is some certifiable logic behind it.  I've been sprinkling Borax around the doorways of the house to keep the scorpions at bay, subconsciously hoping that will keep spring around a little longer.

1 comment:

achieve1dream said...

Good grief! That's awful.... It does seem like when there is one problem that it's always followed by more. I hope the next six months are trouble free so you can save up for your water softening system. Also don't feel bad when you get to ride. We know you can't ride in the summer. I'm glad you've been getting to enjoy your horses.