Saturday, January 24, 2009

Put This In Your Pipe And Smoke It

I've never had a problem with a burst pipe. I now have a problem with a burst pipe. Yeppers, I walked into the house and heard the sound of a rushing stream, making its way from the top of a snowcapped mountain, tripping over rocks and splashing through the forest on its way to the river in the valley below. Alas, the waterfall I heard was cascading from the ceiling of my basement onto the floor and rising faster than the afternoon tide. Didn't I have my own personal indoor lake just last September?

Naturally, with no where to go but up, the gentle waterfall created a puddle which became a pond, which was becoming an ocean in the basement. When I got home it was about two feet deep. Too deep to get to the water valve to shut everything off or lift the stack pipe to let everything go down the drain. Not without waders or some serious hip boots. Maybe I should turn off the electricity. Good idea. Except it's probably not smart to trying flipping the switches while standing in all that water. Did I mention how cold it's been? Someone will need to turn the power off from the meter box outside. Maybe I should call the plumber first.

Oh, good, the plumber can't come for three hours.

Not to worry, I can call the fire department. They probably know what to do with a water problem like this. They use enough of it in their line of work.

If you're taking notes, make a big asterisk now and write: DO NOT CALL THE FIRE DEPARTMENT. You have been warned.

The problem with fire departments is that they are mostly staffed by men. And men always say they can fix "it." No matter what "it" is. They're from Mars that way.

Stupidly, I called up the FD and said, "I've got a busted pipe in my basement and there's two feet of water that's rising, can you help me?" The dispatcher, a woman, who was clearly deranged, said brightly, "Sure, we'll have someone out there soon." No questions asked.

She should have said, "Sorry. Unless you have a real fire emergency, we are not good with water. So hang up and 1) call the village water department and have them shut off the water to your house from the street, 2) because our guys won't walk around in a water filled basement to find the valve, 3) since they could be electrocuted. 4) Besides they won't be bringing their boots anyway. 5) Oh, and while you're at it, you should also call the electric company and have them come out and shut off the electricity to the house as a precaution. 6) Did I mention that we don't mess with electricity.

Is it just me, or does anyone else think that the FD should know how to do things like shut off the water to your house from the main valve on the parkway? Not to mention that one of them should also know how to shut off the electricity to your house from the meter.

What if there was a fire?

Anyway a pumper arrives and two FD guys get out. I notice they're not wearing boots or making an attempt to put any on. "You'll really need to have boots on."

"We don't have boots with us."

"But you'll need boots to get to the water valve and the stack pipe."

"We don't like to walk around in water because there's a chance of electrocution."

I tried to tell them that I'd had the house rewired so that the electrical outlets were five feet high. They just assumed I was lying.

Meanwhile, they went into the house and shined a light on the ceiling where the water was leaking through the paneling. Then they came back outside.

"There's too much water. We can't get to anything without shutting off the electricity. And we don't have boots." Duh.

"Can't you just shut the electricity off to the house at the meter?"

"No, too dangerous."

"So why don't you have boots with you?"

No answer.

At that point in time I should have sent them home. Without boots, obviously they couldn't walk around in the water to shut off any valves or lift the stack pipe to let the water drain. Besides, with the electricity on, it didn't matter if they had boots on anyway.

After almost another hour and a half of water filling up the basement, the PD had an "AHA" moment and called the village to get the sewer guys out to shut off the water from the parkway. I called Commonweath Edison myself to have them come out and shut off the electricity.

So the water guys came to turn the water off. The electrical guys came to shut off the juice.

And the firefighters did abso-freaking-lutely nothing that was useful. I pointed this out to the captain who stopped by. I suggested that the next time someone has a burst pipe they should be told to call the Village to shut off the water. And call the electric company to shut off the power. He said he'd mention this at their next status meeting.


BlueRidge Boomer said...

They really are fron Mars...aren't they?!

Sandra said...

who would believe it.... I can just imagine the damage in the basement.... Hope you had someone to help clean it all up

Michelle said...

We had pipes freeze and burst about a week after my Dad closed on his house. It was a total mess and the insurance refused to cover it.
I hope your insurance company is much better than his.
What a mess!

Remo said...

Yep. The same guys who spend all day lifting weights are the same guys who wait down the street in the truck while Remo 'rassles the bad guys. They call it "Staging." I call it being a pussy.
The first thing I do when I show up at a fire call at a house is turn off the main breaker. It pisses them off because they have to work in the dark.

It was 78 degrees here today. I had to climb into the attic to fish some TV cable and thought I was going to sweat to death.

Can you imagine that?

emmapeelDallas said...

I always had fire fighters up there on a pedestal. That changed when my house caught fire, and the firemen told me they'd found an accelerant as they looked pointedly at Chris, who was then 17. We'd already figured out we were pretty sure the fire had started from a shorted out fan. Chris & Mike were out having dinner with me when the fire started, but the firemen sent arson investigators, and for two days they harrassed us, finally insisting that they needed to talk "privately" with Chris. I was against it but he said it was fine, as he had nothing to hide. Of course, there was no accelerant, and eventually the arson investigators conceded the fire was indeed started by a fan that shorted out. You have my sympathies. Beware of clean up companies too. I don't have any good stories about them.

Rose said...

a couple of my neighbors had burst pipes they called the plumber.

Anne said...

gosh, I'm sorry to hear this. We had a flood last summer. It was a faulty kitchen faucet. The water went to our finished lower lever. It ran for about an hour. It was a very small stream. $15,000.00 worth of damage. Thank God for good homeowers insurance. Good luck. Anne

Ann said...

I knew that Remo would love this. They might be useless in certain situations but they sure are nice to look at.