Saturday, April 12, 2008

Rime of the aging homeowner

Water water everywhere
And made my carpet stink
Water water everywhere
I think I need a drink.

(Kidding, Eric! Ha! Joke! It's just a phrase to exemplify frustration! And drink rhymes – rimes – with stink! Ha!)

Remember a couple weeks ago? Kelsey hurled all over the hall? And I went downstairs to sleep? And it was flooded? Yeah.

Thursday we noticed the house was kind of smelly. Like rotten food. Like a cat box. Like rotten food in a cat box. Spring humidity can cause some carpet odor in the basement. We waited, expecting the smell to dissipate as the house dried out a bit.

Meanwhile, my professor cancelled Friday's class, so I had lots of time before I had to go to work. Excellent. I would be able to get so much work done. And – Eric was home, so we might have some time alone without kids. Freaky.

I did some light cleaning upstairs, then headed down to take a shower. The smell was really, really bad. I flipped on the light at the bottom of the stairs, and something looked wrong. Then I saw what it was. It was water. Everywhere. Another flood. Joy. Suddenly my day was not what I expected it to be.

The soggy carpet made that shplucky, spongy noise when I walked over it. I called Eric in, who had somehow missed noticing. He said he was wearing shoes and hadn't turned the light on. We started moving stuff, finding fans and resigning ourselves to a smelly, difficult, disappointing day.

I suggested we wet-vac, and Eric agreed it was a good idea. He sucked up about 20 gallons. That's a lot of water in a berber carpet. And when we dumped it into the laundry tub, it was nearly black. That's a lot of dirt to go with a lot of water. No wonder it smelled so bad. It was still wet after that, but better.

All that rain after all that melting snow was more than the ground could hold, so it oozed up into my house. It also came in through the window wells.

Oddly enough, we thought it would dry out OK. But the smell was just beyond our ability to withstand. There was no way any carpet cleaner could get that stench out.

We don't know how old the carpet is. It was here when we moved in 11 years ago. It had a few stains even then. We'd had it cleaned a few times, but it was getting pretty icky. So, conservatively, 15 years of dirt, barf, food and beverage, mold, cat, dog, mouse, rat, rabbit, fish and who knows what else and the carpet had definitely seen better days.

We moved our stuff and started ripping the nasty thing up. It came up easily. Surprising. Last time we had to tear up a section of carpet, the glue held tight. It took a couple of days to tear up about 16 square feet. We were expecting a nightmare. But the glue had gotten so wet, it wasn't sticky anymore.

Not much needed throwing away besides the carpet. There were a couple of books on the floor that might not recover. But, really, we were lucky. If you can call all this lucky.

Oh. I forgot. I guess I want to. Our fish died today. We had to move the tank off the carpet. So we prepared a nice (really, it's quite elegant) bowl for him. We made sure to add some of his evil water to the clean, new filtered water. We let the water warm up to a temperature he liked. Then I set about catching him. He's a shark. He did not want to be caught. He was getting pretty freaked out, but I thought it would be a great opportunity to get his tank cleaner. I finally caught the little guy in a large plastic cup. Before I could even carry him up the stairs he was dead. I guess I scared him to death. Poor little guy. I plopped his stiff body into his bowl, and he sank to the bottom. He started losing his color right away, too. He was such a pretty fish. Black with a red tail. Kelsey was beside herself and quite angry with me. She wiped her eyes with a Kleenex, then tucked the tissue away in a box to save her tears.


laurie said...

our basement leaked,too, until we finally bit the bullet and had the sidewalk redone. long story that i won't go into, but the sidewalk was cracked and slanted toward the house for various reasons.... anyway, a new expensive sidewalk that slopes away from the house did the trick.

when we redid our bathroom two summers, we had the handyman pull the ugly old paneling off that wall--it was all warped at the bottom, from years of leakage.

and we found that the concrete wall was WET. WET. in a drought year. when it hadn't rained for months.

not only that, but it was starting to disintegrate. he had to pull about two or three inches away and rebuild the wall. good thing our house didn't cave in.

so you, my dear, need to find the source of this water, and fix it. maybe new drain tiles. maybe just landscaping outsides, sloping the yard away from the house. maybe it's a gutter problem (which was, ultimately, what was causing our problem--the water was cascading onto the sidewalk and causing it to collapse).

you can't live with a flooded basement every so often. it'll wreck your foundation.

aims said...

Wow - Laurie said it all!

And putting tears away in a box...sad but cute!

MJ Krech said...

Oh, you poor homeowners! This is such a nasty thing to have to put up with! We'd have been over there helping you if we lived closer. Or maybe not. Check out Two Cats to see the reason why we may not have been able to this weekend... :^)

Sweet Irene said...

I suppose you won't have carpet in that room anymore. Sounds like linoleum to me, which is very practical. we have it because if the animals.

jan said...

Oh Amy, you have my sympathy. I just finished re-decorating from a broken water line in the bathroom of our guest room. What a mess. It's at the back of the condo and we don't go in very often, by the time we found it the carpet was floating. All has been repaired.

Amy said...

Laurie, as we were tearing up the carpet, I thought, "Now's our chance to rip the walls off and see what the heck is going on." But I didn't voice it. I didn't want to face it. You've given me the courage. Next I need the courage to mortgage the house.

Aims, the thing with the tears is sort of bittersweet, isn't it? She has a few tissues in there, so I wonder what else they're for. Probably dead rats.

Marcia, I know you'd've been here. Thanks. Your dog is a much more fun way to spend a weekend.

Irene, we're thinking linoleum. Linoleum is much easier to dry, but not so nice when you want to cuddle by the fire. I think we're going to have to find out what's getting us wet and fix that before we put anything down.

Jan. Ugh. We had a pipe leak in our basement right above where we stored all our holiday decorations. Most of it was in cardboard boxes. We had to throw away a lot of stuff. The really nasty part is that we discovered some mice had made a rather fancy hotel in some of that stuff. So there was mouse hair and poop everywhere in our moldy, wet decorations. Gross. Those mice must have been there quite a while. The water, too. Like you, it was an area we didn't go to very often. Spew.