Friday, January 20, 2012

Another exciting installment in the life of the Shields family...

It has been quite a week here. On Sunday morning I got up to throw something in the crockpot before church and when I pulled my bag of frozen onions out of the freezer, I noticed that they were not actually frozen. In fact, they were pretty soft. Still cold, but not at all what they should be when coming out of the freezer. We crossed our fingers that someone had left the freezer door ajar overnight, closed it up tightly in the hopes that it would all freeze up again, and headed for church. When we got home, the freezer had not miraculously recovered. So we started pulling everything out to salvage what we could. Thank goodness we have a second freezer in the laundry room! Once we'd cleaned out the freezer, we started evaluating the fridge and realized it was not so cold anymore either. So we rescued all that we could, stuffing most of it in the freezer and running some down the street to a friend's refrigerator.

Of course, now we were without a fridge, so we had to go looking for a new one. (I know it was Sunday and we're not supposed to shop, but it felt like extenuating circumstances.) We tried an appliance outlet store first, on the theory that outlet = cheaper. Not so much. The refrigerators at the outlet store were very nice and all, but the cheapest one they had was $700+. The floor salesman did eventually help us out and showed us a 3/4 size fridge (tiny) with a lot of scratch and dent damage for only $450. I had looked at Home Depot's website earlier and I was just sure we could find a better deal than that, so we told the salesman we'd be back and headed for the closest Home Depot. Sure enough, there we were able to find a full-size fridge (though without ice and water in the door - I will miss that) without scratches and dents for $450. Plus the delivery and haul-away of the old appliance were free (extra charge for that at the outlet store). We had to use the $$ we'd been saving for a trip to Utah to buy the fridge, but we felt pretty good overall. We hadn't gone into debt to buy the fridge, so we were glad we'd had the trip fund available, even if that wasn't how we'd planned to use it. The new fridge couldn't be delivered until Friday, but we just had to make it that long and then things would be back to normal. A friend from the ward loaned us a dorm-room fridge, so we could at least have milk and applesauce around for the kids. Everything was okay after all.

Then came Monday night. About 11:00, Aaron and I were watching House Hunters (as usual - we're addicted to that show) when we both heard something strange. We went to investigate and found water just pouring from water heater. It's a 60 gallon heater, so there was a LOT of water available to drain out. I frantically tried damming it up with towels as Aaron tried to shut off the water. We looked everywhere for a shut-off valve, but the owner's manual didn't show one. He called his dad for advice, but they were still unable to figure out where it was located. (WHY is the water shut off not a huge red switch?!? When it was eventually located (far too late) it was a tiny lever at the bottom of the tank - which had been hidden under the rushing water when we looked for it.) Eventually, Aaron had to shut it off at the street in order to stop the flow of water from the heater. Then he got to join me in the oh-so-fun clean up. By far the worst was the laundry room, where the water had run so deep and fast that it swirled up and into and then back out of the cats' litter boxes. I can't express how lovely it was to be trying to clean up the water (more than ankle deep at this point) with the contents of the cat boxes floating all around me. I swept and swept the water out of the back door - and feel lucky that there was at least an outside door there to send the water through. We used almost every towel in the house in the clean-up... and after the grossness of the clean-up in the laundry room, I don't know if they can ever be clean enough for regular use again. It's going to take copious amounts of hot water and bleach, I can tell you that. I don't care if they are colored towels.

The kitchen was also awash in water, as was part of the hallway. And then we discovered that the water had seeped under the wall into the kids' room... and of course, it was the wall where we had all the toys and toyboxes stacked. And the lightbulb had burned out in that room and we hadn't changed it yet. So at 3:00 in the morning, Aaron and I are in there in the dark trying to move everything away from that wall and soak up the water. We are just hurling things across to the other side of the room to get it away from that wall and hoping like anything that the water will stop before it gets to that other side of the room. (Luckily, only Brekken was in the room - the others were asleep in our room - so we just picked him up and moved him to our room and he never woke up.) We had to empty the closet where all the outgrown and to-be-grown-into clothes are stored, but luckily I keep most of them stored in plastic bags, so the water didn't get to the clothes.

It was 4:30 a.m. by the time we stumbled in to bed. And of course, Rylen then woke up and thought it would be a great time to play! But I'm glad he slept through all the excitement until then. It would have been much more difficult if we'd had to deal with kids while trying to clean up.

The insurance compancy has been great. By 9:00 the next morning, they had a team out there working on drying up all the water and mitigating the water damage. We have 5 or 6 enormous fans and a couple of huge dehumidifiers set up around the house. The heat put off by all that equipment is holding the house at a toasty 85 degrees. I'm just glad it's not any warmer outside, or the heat inside would probably be unbearable! They had to rip out our kitchen and laundry room floors to get to all the water under the flooring. They had to rip out a bunch of insulation underneath the house because it was saturated with water. But they promise they're going to fix all of that and in only 4 or 5 weeks we'll have the house back to normal.

I didn't get any shots while the house was flooded (what was I thinking? I should have pulled out the camera.) but here's what it looks like now, with my floors missing.

So at that point, we're all living in the master bedroom, because we can't have the kids out there with ripped up floors and all that equipment. We've got no running water, so we're using bottled water to drink and flush toilets, but there's no water for bathing/showering - which is really lovely after all that time wading around in the disgusting water. We're eating all take-out, because I don't really have the things I need to cook (some are now frozen, other ingredients are in Michelle's fridge, but they're not available to me) and we can't risk cooking too much and having leftovers, because leftovers won't fit in the tiny fridge.

It was Wednesday before we got a plumber out there to shut off the water to the water heater and turn it back on to the rest of the house. In retrospect, I think we got ripped off and paid too much for that... but we were just so desperate to have running water again! He also gave us a quote for a new water heater and installation... which was more than $3,000! Now Aaron and I had gone out the day before and priced water heaters and we thought we were probably looking at something like $1000. So to hear this quote? I cried. I literally sat there and cried because I just couldn't take it anymore and had no idea what we were going to do.

We sent the plumber away and then went back to Home Depot to get a comparison quote. Turns out we had not been looking at the right type of water heater, so the cost overall was more than the $1000 we'd estimated, but the Home Depot quote for installation was less than $1500. Quite a difference from the plumber's quote! (In other news, I am now encouraging all my children to be plumbers when they grow up - I think they'll make a nice living that way.) Needless to say, we went with Home Depot. Aaron's parents came to the rescue with a loan until we get our tax return (Here's hoping it's a good one, since we still need to have the van repaired, too!). Home Depot came yesterday (Thursday) and installed the water heater. I don't know if a shower has ever felt as good as the one I took yesterday afternoon!

So now we have running cold AND hot water. We'll have a regular fridge again this afternoon. All (or at least most) of the drying equipment should be picked up today, too. Other than the ripped up floors and all the contents of the laundry room and kids' room piled around the rest of the house, life may be almost back to normal soon. And hey, other than that strange arthritis in my knee, I think I'm finally over the flu!


SUPAHMAMA! said...

Oh wow. This story is like birth control for someone who wants to buy a house. What a horrible ordeal! I'm glad though that insurance, neighbors and family have been so helpful throughout all of this.

MJ said...

HOLY COW!!!! I'm so glad you've been able to get things situated, and that Aaron's parents were able to help you out (makes such a difference, doesn't it?)

When does Brekken turn 18 months? I miss having you in nursery. We have a lot to talk about, lol.

I've got coupons for free ice cream at Wendy's. Maybe we should get together this Saturday?