Trials and Tribulations, Part 3 — Houston, We Have Normal Again!

Fans, dehumidifiers, and temporary water heater, oh my!

Fans, dehumidifiers, and temporary water heater, oh my!

One thing you learn when you have water damage in a home is that there is a whole team of specialists ready to clean up any mess.   For these guys, it’s everyday stuff.  For me, it was my very first time using them or even hearing about their profession.

These guys are the clean-up people.  Not exactly glamorous, but to me they are my Justice League.

After the plumber came to shut off water, he sent for the mitigation specialist who promptly began the clean-up.  By that, I don’t mean just mopping up the wet floor.  Nay–they’ve got the tools to cut away at drywall, pull out soggy and moldy insulation, and rip out damaged wood on the floor.  They know to make the cuts beautifully and up to industry specification so that the patch work would go smoothly by the next specialist, the restoration guys.

After the cutting and removing, my mitigator began the work of drying out the place.  He set up several gigantic fans around the family room and garage along with several dehumidifiers and let them rip for five days and four nights, nonstop.  The noise was deafening and the electric usage went through the roof, but there was no doubt that these dryers were working, as was evidenced by my indoor plants which quickly dried to a crisp.

He also set up a temporary water heater so we would have running hot water again.  That’s when I almost bent down to kiss his feet.  But I held back.

“I’ll be back after the weekend to retrieve the fans and stuff.  You have to keep them on at all times.”  With that, my hero rode off into the sunset.

Meanwhile, David and I had plans to go to Seattle for the weekend without our children to celebrate our wedding anniversary.  We originally had planned to leave them at home to fend for themselves — they are 15 and 12 now — for the very first time, thinking that they are mature enough to handle the weekend on their own, but I started to have some reservations after our episode with the busted water heater.

What if the fans caused an electric fire?

What if there is another water leak?

What if the kids lose their hearing by the fan noise?

I began to wonder if our second honeymoon plans were all going by the wayside.

That’s when our friends stepped up to help us.  They each volunteered to take in a child for the weekend so David and I could go away.  Bless their hearts!

After we boarded the dog, we hopped on a flight to Seattle.  It was remarkable how the noise of the jet inside the cabin sounded just like my family room back home.

On our way to Seattle!

On our way to Seattle!

Well, we’re happy to report that David and I had a wonderful time celebrating our anniversary in Seattle.  The kids survived at home, and our home was completely dry when we came home.  Josh did have several nose bleeds over the weekend, though, due to the completely dry air in the house.

As our short season of trials and tribulations come to a close, we have all become a little more appreciative of…normalcy.

We are grateful for the simple things in life, such as

  • A running car
  • A functioning laptop
  • A pinky toe that is not broken
  • Health
  • Running water
  • Hot water
  • Proper water pressure
  • Quiet in the home
  • Helpful friends
  • Plumbers, carpenters, mitigation specialists, and others in the trade.

Maybe God sometimes makes us experience hardships simply so that we would appreciate the little things in life.  It’s so easy to forget that everything we have is a gift from God in the first place.  In no time, we begin feeling entitled to everythings.

May we never take life — nor plumbers — for granted!

Trials and Tribulations, Part 2 — Going Without Running Water for a Day

20130424-120101.jpg“It’s the hot water heater tank in your garage, ma’am. It blew a hole in the back,” said the plumber, who promptly disconnected the crippled unit and turned the water source back into the house. Great–at least we have running cold water again!

We had spent the previous 24 hours pretty much without running water. We could tell there was some sort of a water leak in the house but didn’t know where. In order to avoid more damage to our drywalls and wood floor, we just shut off the water valve into the home and only occasionally turned it back on in short, 2-minute intervals until the plumber could come the next day.

Going without running water is eye-opening for those of us who live in the developed world. During one of our brief “water-on” moments, we’d fill up as many pots, pans, and buckets we could with water so that we could 1) wash hands, 2) flush toilets, and 3) wash dishes and utensils until we could get to the store to buy disposable paper and plastic goods.

I ditched my plans to cook dinner at home that night and skipped past even the thought of take-out. Instead, we went out to eat at a nearby Marie Calendar’s, reminding everyone in my family to please stop by the bathroom afterwards at the restaurant. We would have washed our hair in their sink had we remembered to bring our shampoo to dinner.

Flushing toilets became an artform. You can get two flushes out of the commode even without running water, but after the second time you will have to eventually refill the cistern. It was a chore to pour water into it without splashing, but the floor was already ruined downstairs anyway. The toilet tanks are not designed nor well-positioned to be refilled by hand.

“Kids, use the downstairs bathroom only, please! It’s too much work to haul water upstairs to refill,” became our mantra.

When it was time for us to shower, David went to the garage to turn on the water valve and started the stop watch. We had the kids take the quickest showers on record, but even then we could see the water seeping in through the walls during the few minutes we turned water back on. I chose to skip the shower until I could get to the gym in the morning. David then shut off the valve again, we mopped up the extra water splashing on the floor, and we all went to bed.


When the plumber arrived the next day, I almost wanted to hug him. As you can see in the photo above, the wood floor was already pretty much ruined.

I have always known that many people worldwide live everyday without running water, but now I got a little taste of that kind of a lifestyle. Up to 6,000 children under age 5 die every day from illnesses related to a lack of access to clean water. A lot of children spend their days hauling water from the nearest water source which might be a mile or more away, weighted down with heavy buckets of water, missing school. And their water could be contaminated! Our problem was quite temporary; theirs, permanent.

We as a family have a renewed appreciation for clean, running water. We think every child of God deserves to have clean water — don’t you? If you want to help provide relief for someone somewhere in the world who needs a better life, click on this link to find how you can work with World Vision to help give someone access to clean water. You could do this for as little as $20 a month.

So, now that we have cold running water, life was improving for us. Will we get HOT water again, ever? For that, you’ll have to stay tuned to my next post!