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!