I am going to start this post with a disclaimer about the title. It is wrong. The time period was actually about 2 weeks. With that said, let me tell you about some of the “fun” I have been experiencing.
It all started on a Tuesday when our kitchen faucet decided it was tired of releasing water. I kind of just assumed it was built for that specific feature and may have been a bit perturbed at having to dismantle the little booger and figure out what was wrong, but it was such an insignificant problem in my sea of blessings, how could I complain? (Just to answer the previous rhetorical question…it was quietly in my head with a slight hint of sarcasm.)
Upon removing several important (I assume) pieces of the faucet, I discovered the inner liner of the pull out hose had loosened free of the hose itself and become bunched up at the end effectively clogging the nozzle.
No problem…I thought. After meticulously pulling pieces from the end in order to unclog the faucet, I decided to test out the flow by turning on the water at which point the hose exploded and I realized the faucet was dead.
Annoying, but no big deal. I hopped in my car and made for Lowe’s where I purchased another faucet and prepared to install.
After working under my sink for about 45 minutes in order merely loosen the faucet from its mounted position, I emerged semi-victorious and opened the box to my new chrome tool of water distribution to find it lacking the necessary mounting gear.
I proceeded to clench my jaw just a little tighter to keep a few choice words from slipping out and then figured I could just prep the sink for work tomorrow morning since it was getting late and probably past time for exchanging the product.
Returning to the sink, I was greeted by that all too familiar bane of every novice-to-professional plumber in the history of plumbing…a small leak. This little guy was coming from one of the old copper lines and located directly behind the cut off valve.
For those of you unfamiliar with plumbing, that is a bad thing.
With a brief look to the heavens as if to ask God, “seriously?” I grabbed my wrench and went straight to the front yard to work on cutting off the main water supply to my house. About 20 minutes later and some serious forearm muscle burning; the water is still flowing freely to my home and not even thinking about budging.
So, what does any man do when he is up against a wall of a problem needing sheer will and brute force to bust through? Well, I am not sure about that kind of guy, but I called my Dad.
Want to know what he did? He got himself out of bed, grabbed his tools, drove to my house and used all the strength in his seasoned arm to break the main cut off switch.
At this point, the tightening in my jaw had moved throughout the rest of my body, but there was nothing I could do at such a late hour, so I crossed my fingers, prayed and begged that little pipe to keep the leak to a slow drip until I could have the necessary repairs completed the next day.
Fast forward to the next morning when a few guys from the city come by to dig up my lawn, remove the box around the cut-off valve and replace it – all with a nice fee included – and I am ready to take care of that sink. I removed the old lines, replace with new cut-off valves and compression joints (for the most part, but I’ll come back to this) and finally get the new faucet installed so dishes can be done and water can flow freely for my family.
Rough couple of days, but you remember the beginning of this story, right? This is just the beginning.
Being the plumber wannabe that I am, I used what I had available to complete the job. This turned out not to be such a good idea. You see, even though I continued to monitor the pipes and new fittings for any moisture or leaks – and never did any appear – a few days later, one of those “used” pieces turned out to not have the stamina to hold one of my water lines in place. As I played upstairs with my darling daughter, awaiting the return of my wife from work, the piece had ejected the water line and sent water pouring out onto our laminate wood floors for probably around 15 minutes.
When I came downstairs, I tried to wrap my head around the shallow pond currently residing where my living room and kitchen were supposed to be located.
Once I was finally hit with the reality of the situation, I ran to the sink, turned off the water using the newly installed cut-off valve (which happened to be holding nicely, by the way) and tried to determine where to begin. I grabbed a mop, opened the front door and started pushing as much water as I could outside. My daughter was a little confused as to what was happening but decided it was boring and went back upstairs to continue playing without me.
I was pretty worried about my wife’s reaction when she came home, which was probably why I was working like a madman to clean things up before she got back. I shouldn’t have been worried though. She was completely gracious and jumped into the cleaning process without skipping a beat.
With the floors cleaned, furniture saved and every fan in the house running to help dry the place up, we dragged ourselves upstairs and went to sleep under the exhaustion and “I can’t believe this just happened” feelings running through our heads.
The next day was Saturday and we awoke to a strong smell of pre-mildew (yep, didn’t know that was a thing either) and went downstairs to survey the damage. It took about 2 seconds to determine the floors were ruined and we would have to replace them.
More than a few sailoresque words flew out of my mouth that day. I am not proud of it but neither will I sugarcoat my feelings on my own blog. Just want to make sure it is clear, I was not taking it well.
Knowing that we were planning on leaving for vacation in a little over a week, I decided to jump right into the project. Oh, and we also had explored a few other scenarios that did NOT include me replacing everything myself, but in the end, they were too expensive and would take too long. So, I ripped out all of our old flooring, dried up the remaining areas of moisture and used the next few days to replace it all right before we had the carpet guys come in and do their thing to help us get rid of the growing mildew smell in our house.
By Wednesday, just over a week later from the start of this torture, we had pretty much all the floors (expect the basement and upstairs master bath) in our house replaced and were working on the finishing paint and caulking touches. In the midst of my pursuit of perfection, I was carelessly trying to hammer in an errant floorboard (it’s too complicated to explain here, just try and go with me on this one) and hit my ankle with the hammer.
On par with everything else that had been happening? Definitely!
I figured there would be a nice little bruise there the next day, but what I got was an egg-sized hematoma. Oh yeah, and this was on the same ankle I broke just about a year ago while playing basketball. I know…fun stuff.
Nevertheless, I was determined we would have a good vacation and the ankle would be fine when we were ready to leave in just two short days.
That actually turned out to be the case, but what we were not expecting was the dead rat smell to come flooding into our house from our attic just as we were getting rid of the mildew smell that was doing what it could to hang around as long as possible. Myself and a professional pest controller were unable to locate the rotting carcass, which meant closing doors and hoping the little beast decayed quickly while we were gone. For this, I was grateful we were leaving the next day.
We managed finally leave a new-ish house behind and enjoy a wonderful week in Florida despite all that we had endured over the last few weeks (and I won’t go into the flat tire we got either) and as I looked back on all the trials and how horribly I had failed to keep my cool throughout, I started to realize how incredibly blessed I am.
I stopped looking at the broken main water cut-off as an annoyance with the nice little fee assessed to me by the city and began to thank God I have a father around still willing and able to help his grown son take care of his family when needed.
Instead of getting angry about my ruined floors and all the work needed to replace them, I was just grateful to have gained the experience when I first laid those floors 9 years ago to replace them now quickly and at minimal cost. And I couldn’t help but praise God we were actually home when the leak happened to catch it after only a short time as it could have easily been worse and ruined much more.
My irritation at the “master plumber” from Lowe’s who told me I could use the same compression ring melted away when my wife reacted with such support and understanding in the midst of such a colossal mistake on my part.
All the stress and frustration I was feeling during the entire ordeal was made so much better by the flexibility I have in my job, which continues to be a reminder of the blessing it is to work with someone who means it when he agrees our priorities should go in this order…GOD, FAMILY, WORK.
I see the protection God provides for my family, and constant source of joy, in the hotel gardener who took the time to stop a family from rushing onto the road to point out a low tire which most likely would have blown on the highway had it not been fixed.
Overall, the last few weeks were incredibly difficult and hard to understand how so much could go wrong (and, at times, almost comically) in such a compact period of time, but the reminders I have received of God’s enduring grace, compassion and love for temperamental screw-up like myself fills me with a hope that will carry me through the next set of disasters I face.
Well, it probably wont, but at least I know He will be there to remind me of it all over again.