Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Ceiling is Falling

Previously on "As the Gastons' World Turns": We had the cable disconnected by the cable company twice in two days. That necessitated me working at Panera for 2 days rather than at home. I had gotten the Monday disconnect fixed Tuesday morning. DH was left to correct the Tuesday afternoon disconnect when he got home from work a little early. And now, our story continues....

DH called me at Panera around 3:30 Tuesday afternoon to say that our cable service had been restored. It was turned off in the system, not disconnected at the house, just as I suspected. I still had some work I needed to do, and Panera is between the current house and Luke's school. The new house is between Panera and Luke's school. So we made a plan. DH would load up the car with some packed boxes and drop them off at the new house. He would then pick up Luke and swing back by Panera to pick me up. We would go to dinner, come back for me to pick up my car, and head home. Sounds like a plan!

Except DH called me, seething, just after 4. "The ceiling in the basement bathroom has collapsed. Water is leaking from the Jack and Jill sink upstairs."

I can't make this stuff up, folks.

Smidgen of relevant background info: We had discovered on Monday that the county had turned the water on to the house, which was most efficient of them. DH had gone through the whole house checking each and every fixture to make sure they all worked. There was no sign of a leak or anything at that time. Now, less than 24 hours later, the ceiling had collapsed due to a leak, but there was no real flow of water coming from the ceiling, just a very small but steady drip every few seconds.

DH continued: "I'll call the plumber to see what to do now and when he can get here to look at it. Just wanted you to know. I'll call when I know something and we can figure out what to do about picking up Luke and dinner." I was completely numb. My brain just kept shouting "this cannot be happening!" The only consolation is that that sink had been repaired by the plumber the previous week, so most likely, all of the repairs for the damage would be covered by *them.* An inconvenience, surely, but not detrimental financially. My main fear was of exactly how much damage there was, which was a complete unknown at this point. I was also petrified that we would have to reschedule the move AGAIN! (Can you imagine having to reschedule disconnects with the cable company again? I may as well set up a permanent office at Panera!)

Here are some photos of the damage:

Is that a ceiling or a trap door?

Plumber arrived around 4:30, which was actually much quicker than we expected. Based on his inspection and subsequent discussion with his boss, this is what we theorize happened. During the repairs last week, a pipe broke off at the wall under the sinks of the Jack and Jill bathroom. We were having those pipes replaced due to rust, and that one had apparently rusted through to the point that it broke with only the slightest pressure applied during the repair. What should have happened is that the plumber should have stopped what he was doing and explained that they needed to go into the wall and replace the pipe at our expense. Yes, we would have been terribly unhappy about it, but we likely would have agreed. However, the plumber felt like he had broken it, so he should fix it, and at no cost to us. He cut a new length of pipe and soldered it to the pipe in the wall. Problem solved. Except there was a pinhole size gap in the solder, and once the water was turned back on by the county, it started to drip. Because the drip was small, however, it had not gotten to the point of showing up downstairs yet when DH had "made the rounds" Monday afternoon. It took an additional 24 hours of small but steady drips to collapse the ceiling.

Here's the good news (can you believe I just said that?!). #1: The water was dripping directly into the center of the shower in the basement bathroom, not onto the floor or down the walls, so there was no additional damage to the basement bathroom, just the walls and ceiling around the shower. #2: Due to the whole cable debacle, DH had gone in to work early, which had allowed for a trip to the new house on Tuesday that was not originally planned. Otherwise, it may have been Wednesday or Thursday before we discovered the problem. #3: Because the cable guy showed up early, DH was able to work the whole day Tuesday instead of just half a day. This meant that he could now take off all of Wednesday to meet the plumber at the new house to start the repairs. #4: Instead of having to go through the wall in the Jack and Jill bathroom, the pipe repair could now take place through the "convenient" new hole in the basement ceiling, so no additional demolition work would be required. #5: The manager was going to check on what to do about insurance covering the damage. We weren't sure if that meant he was checking to see how to go about handling it, or if that meant he was trying to see if they had to cover the damage. (Likely a bit of both.) However, from what DH overheard of the conversation with the manager, it sounded like the plumbing company would cover both the physical damage and the pipe repair to correct the problem.

So as bad as it was, it had all unfolded in about the best way possible. The plumber needed a special piece of equipment that he did not have with him. He would retrieve it Wednesday morning and meet DH at the house at 10 AM Wednesday morning.

[Quick aside: We ended up at Artuzzi's for dinner Tuesday night. They delivered my food and DH's food to the table, but no pizza for Luke. "Excuse me, he is supposed to have a cheese pizza." Yes, sir, but when we were removing the pizza from the oven, it slid off and hit the floor. We're making him another one right now. ::sigh:: Just the perfect end to the perfect day, no?]

There did end up being some negotiations Wednesday morning with the manager about who would cover what part of the repair. We finally agreed that we would pay for the cost of repairing the pipe that was leaking, since that is what should have happened in the first place. It was also a known fixed cost. The plumbing company would be responsible for the water damage, including any mold remediation and such. I still think they should have paid for all of it, but it was not worth the fight or the possible delay of the move (again). We were willing to pay for part of it just to have it over and done with as quickly as possible.

The water damage company arrived around noon with all sorts of gadgets and gizmos. They also checked every single spot that I was concerned about without us having to ask. DH was very impressed with their thoroughness. They removed all collapsed portions of the ceiling in the basement plus a little more to allow for good airflow up in there, hopefully to dry things out. They also took out the sheet rock around the shower that their moisture-checking thing said was too wet to be salvaged. They set up two huge dehumidifiers/heaters, one in each bathroom, and a fan in the basement that pointed straight up at the ceiling. They'll come back to check it on Friday (yes, the day we move), and we'll discuss any additional required measures (hopefully none) and when to have them come back and repair the walls/ceiling at that time. The water damage people finished up around 1:30, and the pipe repair was done by 2 (thanks to the basement ceiling access). Water to the house has been restored once again. Let's just hope it stays that way.

I am so ready to return to my boring life. Oh wait, I still have to move on Friday!! It's not over yet. Wish us *good* luck! At the rate we've been going lately, we're gonna need it.

P.S. The first person to say "what else can go wrong?" gets smacked!!

Currently feeling: trying so hard to hang in there

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