As first disasters go, ours was manageable.

So there I was, cleaning the upstairs bathroom, when I noticed a hissing sound. Our toilet runs, so I didn’t think a lot about it. But I turned everything off, made sure the tub faucet wasn’t dripping, and looked around…. and noticed a puddle forming between the sink and the toilet. I blamed the toilet, but couldn’t hear it making a sound. So I opened the sink cabinet.

And there was a giant whoosh of steam, and I could hear the water sound much more clearly. I kneeled down in the ever-growing puddle of water and tried to turn the knobs under the sink, but it was too hot, and I couldn’t see well enough (steam), so I ran around to the basement (after plugging my computer into the Ethernet cable, to text Dale via email–he was at the old place, packing, and my phone was with him–then connecting the house phone (glorious landline), to call him. When I looked down the stairs to the basement, to my dismay, I found waterfalls coming from several places in the ceiling.

I turned on the light, to see better, and when I was about to cross the puddle to the water heater, I looked up, and around, to see that there was water near the lightbulb and a plugged-in cord running through the largest part of the puddle… so my knowledge of the combined properties of water and electricity kicked in, and I ran back upstairs to turn off the basement breaker. Which meant I’d be operating in the mostly-dark, because the flashlight was still at the old place, too.

There was so much water everywhere, I guess I was looking for the water main. Or at least to turn off the water heater, so the water would cool down. So I did that. I couldn’t see, so I just turned the knob until I could hear the flame kick off, inside/under (? – I don’t know how water heaters are put together) the water heater. I couldn’t find the water main — this is a very high priority, now that the disaster is over, by the way. So I ran back upstairs to try turning it off at the sink again.

By this time, it had cooled off enough that I could feel around and turn off the valve. Which, blessedly, stopped the hissing sound and the production of steam. Thinking hard–because our towels were all at the old place, still, I tried to figure out what assets I had, to stop the water from falling through the floor–because, at this point, I needed to know if I had shut the problem down completely, or if I had just gotten the top half of it. There was still a waterfall into the basement, but then, there was also an inch or two of water in some spots in the bathroom. So, in a fit of genius–and with a short apology to the thrift store–I grabbed the draperies we’d taken down earlier in the day, and threw those on the bathroom floor. Then I grabbed the ones that I had piled up earlier–and that our contractors had placed tack strip on top of, thereby probably pre-destroying, anyway–and threw those down, too. Then I grabbed the two pink carpet squares we’d saved, to serve as a slightly-warmer standing spot in the basement kitchen, and I threw those down too. Because, seriously, what’s more absorbent than carpet?

And, finally, the waterfall slowed.

Then Dale arrived–so I guess we can time this whole disaster under 20 minutes–and assessed what he could of the situation, and we started the cleanup. His theory was that the flexpipe wasn’t used to being heated–he had just turned the water heater up from “vacation” to somewhere between “warm” and “hot,” earlier that day–and that we’re never installing any more freaking flexpipe, ever, in the whole house. He also pointed out that it was lucky I was there, that it didn’t happen after we gave up for the night. Our basement drain is a little uphill from the rest of the basement, it turns out, but we had a shop broom and a normal broom and got the worst of the water out.

Right now our yard is full of drapes. We’ve got a fan and a dehumidifier on the case. The basement had already largely dried, or was at least puddle-free, by the time we left last night. And we gave the contractors permission to turn on the power to the basement this morning, if they needed it.

So, now that this is all written, we’re going to stop back by and make sure nothing else blew up.

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