Thursday, June 25, 2015

Another Eventful Day

Over the last two weeks of break, I've put in almost 90 hours of curriculum work.  Most of that time has been spent at school or at the district office.  However today I was able to work from home.  I must say, working from home is nice.  I woke up without an alarm clock about 9:00, made my way down to the kitchen table, and worked in lounging around clothes.  On a side note, I need to figure out how to work from home when school is in session!
A couple of hours later, still sitting at the kitchen table, I heard a crash and then a whooshing of water.  The first thought in my head was, "Noooo, I don't have time for this!"  I am so burnt out at this point and still had a couple of big projects to finish.  I ran through the kitchen towards the sound, and what I saw put me in a state of shock.  A rather large (maybe 6 inches) piece of porcelain had cracked off the bottom of the toilet tank, fallen to the floor, and water was POURING out of the bottom of it.  And when I say POURING I mean POURING, like a raging river.  It sounded like someone was filling up a bathtub.
Now the only way I can think to describe my initial reaction is by saying I was like a defective wind up toy.  I spastically turned around in circles, looking around at what had happened, trying to figure out what the heck I should do.  Frantically, I pulled the bathroom trashcan underneath the hole, hoping to at least limit the amount of water that fell on the ground as I waited for the tank to empty.  The problem was, the tank didn't empty.  It kept running and running and running.  Within seconds the trashcan was overflowing onto the floor again.  I ran out to the garage and found some buckets before the wherewithal to locate the turnoff valve hit me.  I got a bucket underneath the hole and then tried my darnedest to turn off the water valve underneath the toilet.  The water kept coming as I swam around on the floor trying to turn it off with no luck.  It was just too hard for me.
It took me another moment of flooding water to decide what to do next.  Remember, I was still in my lounging around clothes but figured at this point it didn't matter. I ran out the door to find a neighbor to help.  Of course not one of the neighbors that I know was home.  So I ran around the block just to see if someone was outside who could come and help.  There was a lady I wave to when I walk the dog working outside in her garage.  I frantically told her my story and she told me her neighbor just drove in and he would be able to help.  I've never met that neighbor before so it took every ounce of my being to knock on the door.  While I waited for the door to answer I noticed blood running down my hand.  Oh for heavens sake!  I had gashed my knuckle on a sharp edge of the porcelain.  I grabbed a hold of my hand to cover it before the door opened and frantically told the man who answered what my story of woe.  As it happens, he wasn't the neighbor.  He was just visiting.  But he agreed to help, and we ran back around the block to my house.
When we got there, the water was still running fiercely.  All I kept thinking was, "WE ARE IN A DROUGHT!"  The neighbor's visitor fought with the valve a bit, but once he got it turned off the instant quiet was the sweetest sound in the world.
I thanked the neighbor's visitor profusely and told him I could handle calling the plumber and getting the water soaked up.  But he was kind and stayed for a bit helping me get the rugs dragged outside and swept a lot of the water into the garage so it could run out to the street.  While I felt very much like I was imposing, I was thankful for the help.
After getting the flood waters contained, the neighbor's visitor left, and I again stood in the middle of the kitchen trying to figure out what to do next.  Luckily, in this case, it was a hot dry day so things sopped up into towels quite well and the rugs were safe outside to dry.  I called a plumber that was highly recommended and will be getting a new downstairs toilet tomorrow afternoon.  Within the hour I was back at the kitchen table working on curriculum again.  Although this time with a heart beating a bit faster.
I am SO thankful that I happened to be home today, and it didn't run for hours while I was gone.  And that it was the downstairs toilet so the water just sat on the tile floor and was easily swept out to the garage.  If it had been upstairs there probably would have been so much damage - carpet, ceiling, walls.  Ugh, I can't even imagine.  Replacing a toilet stinks (no pun intended), but flood damage would have been so very costly.  And I'm also relieved that none of my nearest neighbors were home to watch all the water pouring out of my garage into the driveway. I know someone would have reported me to the water agency for wasting water!  But on the downside, about half of those hours I've put in over the last two weeks are now going towards fixing this plumbing problem.  On the upside, at least those hours are there.
Ha! I'm still in some shock over the whole incident!


  1. Sympathy and lots of it.
    Did you have an earthquake ?. It would need to be something like that to shatter something made of clay. Mind you it could be a shock that cracked it years ago and only now that a particular frequency dislodged it. Of course it could be a flawed container anyway.
    You have insurance ?.
    Ask the plumber where the stop cocks are for each system as well as the mains valve inside and the one on the street -if there is one-. Hot and cold are on separate systems. And if you have heating, that's separate too. These stop cocks should have different colours (colour coded). And these may or may not be in the same place.

    1. No, no earthquakes yesterday as far as I know. Did earthquakes over time have something to do with it? Possibly. The house was built in '89 and I think it's the same toilet that came with the house. Could it be just wear over time? I had had people over the night before for dinner and then I hadn't used it at all yesterday before it happened. I'm thinking maybe it had a crack I hadn't noticed and it just went. But that's just speculating.
      Our water here is SO hard. When I took my hand away from the valve it had the white Lyme-like the shower heads and faucets get if I'm not diligent in cleaning them. I'm not sure if that's why I wasn't able to turn it or if I just wasn't strong enough at that angle. But believe you me I WILL be asking. It was an awful, helpless feeling. It's a good idea to find out about the other turn offs too. I was unsure about what I should do, and my panic made it worse. I will definitely ask. It could have caused serious damage!

    2. The truth is I don't know, and the truth is even if I was looking at it I still wouldn't know why it went so anything I say is pure surmise.

      But yeah, find the turn-off valves, and free them if needed. For any failure that's you first port. get the plumber to show you one so you can see how the gate works when you turn the tap on them. But once they're all off you can then figure out which system, is burst, hot;cold,heating. You see it can be with downstairs loo's the feed is direct like with the cold tap in the kitchen. While the upstairs is held in a tank. That's one of the reasons you may need to know where all the stop valves(stop cocks) are situated.
      Here for some darn reason they can be buried and at 'the' most awkward angles too.
      Best of luck anyway, and if it had to go that one was best and at a time you were there to mitigate damage.

    3. Thank you, and yes...I just keep thinking Wow! It was all so minor compared to all the what ifs.
      Although, now that my curriculum work is done my thoughts are drifting more towards Yay! I'm finally on break!! :)

  2. Oh. My. Gosh!!! This wasn't even my dilemma, yet here sit reeling!

    Yes, you have SO many things to be thankful for! Thank God you were at home and it was the ground level. (and surely no one could report you about the was unavoidable!)

    I know where the shut-off valves are under the sinks and next to the toilets, but now I want to make sure again where any others are. Mainly the one to the entire house. We use to be on our own water-well and it was easy to find, but now that we're finally on city water, I need to make sure where it is.

    Bless your heart! I guess the plumber should be arriving soon. I hope all is repaired quickly!

    1. Yes! The plumbers arrived about 20 minutes into the hour window (how often does THAT happen!?!?) I was given. In and out in less than 45 minutes. He had said the valves were actually in really good shape but, as I suspected, the hard water is what made it so hard to turn. I'll just have to watch them and maybe keep them moving from time to time. It was certainly a surreal day...but over just as quickly as it started. Phew! :)

    2. I'm glad that's all taken care of now! Both of our exterior shut off valves are where I thought they were and I grilled my husband on when he last tried turning the ones at the fixtures. It's better with the city water, but we had much more trouble with scale when we had our own well.

      Maybe we should all check our lines to the washer and the water heater. Better safe than sorry!

    3. Yes I agree. It doesn't hurt to know and could end up being a saving grace in the future. Glad this spurred us both in doing so. :)