Friday, June 27, 2014


I could always sleep anywhere at any time, regardless of location or background noise. Ilse simply couldn't understand how I did it, but after three days of six, high-powered industrial fans and two industrial strength dehumidifiers running 24 hours a day in our house, she's beginning to catch on. She actually sat in a living room chair today watching her favorite show on Netflix on her Kindle Fire, oblivious to the incessant noise. She had on earphones, of course, but they didn't muffle the background noise, they only made it possible to overpower the roar of the fans. The noise level where she was sitting, two rooms away from the nearest high-powered fan, was running a solid 48dB, about the same level as sitting next to a vacuum cleaner. A quiet room runs less than 30dB, you know, where you can talk without yelling. The room currently being treated is running a solid 80dB constant noise. She sat through the whole show as if the background noise wasn't there.

One of six fans

The incessant noise simply becomes mind-numbing. It's even hard to hear the plumbers cutting apart our drywall to replace our defective plumbing. They've been at that for two days now and are no longer a nuisance. We barely hear their saws. My wife says it is like living in an aircraft hangar with the jets running. Funny, that's where I worked for six or seven years while I was in the Air Force. Except they weren't airplanes, they were missile nose sections – you know, the pointy end with the temperamental guidance system – being tended to 24 hours a day by constantly running power stations and air conditioning systems. Those constantly running systems were actually loader than what we are living with at the moment while our house dries out. How did we get here, you ask?

Ilse stepped into our second bedroom closet Thursday evening a week ago (the 19th) and wondered why her feet were wet while standing on my painstakingly installed wood laminate flooring. Turns out it is the lowest place on that side of the house and of course, water flows downhill. Then it seeps up through the laminate flooring – last time it was carpet – and waits for someone to step in it. I went up in the attic to make sure it wasn't coming down an inside wall – that was the day we had that 3 inch rain – and found everything everything overhead was dry, so we decided to call Sleuth water detection. We used them once before 5 years ago to find a leak. Sleuth came in first thing Friday morning and found a pin-hole leak under the TV room slab, about two feet into the room under the tile. That pipe supplies cold water to the guest bathroom and the outside bib on the lanai wall, and they guaranteed the leak was between the spot they marked on the floor and the manifold in the drywall in the utility room.

Apparently the leak has been flowing for quite some time, even though they couldn't say exactly where the water was coming up and entering the house. They assumed it was coming up and running along the 2X4 that is the plate for the wall. Water ran along the edge of the utility room behind the garage to the corner where it meets the family room, then turned and ran all the way down to the guest bedroom

X marks the spot, or in this case, the water leak

So the options were: Jack hammer up the slab and break up the tile to access the defective 24 year old copper tubing (replacement tile not available, so all tiles would have to be replaced) or go overhead with the new PEX plumbing and bypass the slab leak.

Here is where we called the insurance company and thankfully got them involved. The rough estimate for the tile work alone was between $5000 to $8000. The insurance company immediately set up an appointment with the water mitigation people at Rytech, and incidentally, they bill them directly for water mitigation services so we are completely out of that loop. Rytech scheduled to be at the house first thing Monday, but we needed to stop the water flow in the mean time.

Sleuth suggested cutting and capping the supply line under the cold water manifold in the utility room with what is known as a Shark Bite cap. It was either that or shut off the house water, so I went up to Home Depot and bought a $6.20 Shark Bite plug and a $10 pipe cutter. No problem, line plugged OK, just no water to back bathroom. We called a recommended plumbing firm who came out Friday afternoon and gave us an estimate of $1700 for the single run from the already once repaired cold water manifold to the guest bathroom. He also gave us an estimate to re-plumb the whole house overhead for $6000, but his solution included running new water pipes OUTSIDE the CBS block walls and just painting them the color of the house. Scratch the recommended firm for the whole house job.

The water detection people from Rytech showed up Monday with 6 huge industrial fans and 2 of the biggest dehumidifiers I've seen on wheels. They measured water moisture in the dry wall and cut out sections along the utility room and the TV room. They stuck meters everywhere to find out the full extent of the water damage. Their main job is to prevent mold from water leaks, and in the process ripped out all the flooring in the guest bedroom and that closet. Rytech is meticulous and requested we immediately bring in a plumber as they found a single drop of moisture on the previously repaired cold water manifold (not the plug!). We were told either fix the manifold or shut off the house water. So we called the recommended firm back, but they couldn't get to us until Friday, the 27th. We would have been without water for a week, so we called ABC Southwest plumbing and they responded by saying they could get to us that afternoon.

Rytech was satisfied and left. They weren't gone 20 minutes when I noticed I had a new pool of water forming on the base behind where they had cut out the drywall in the garage, and sure enough, I found another pinhole leak behind the water heater. When ABC Southwest got here, the manifold was dry and they didn't want to duplicate work if we were going to put in new plumbing anyway, but they fixed the leak behind the heater. ABC gave us an estimate of around $1540 for the drop and could start on Tuesday morning. We said go ahead, and we canceled the recommended firm.

Ilse and I talked it over and decided two leaks at the same time were grounds to do the whole house, and ABC came in at a little under $5000, considerably cheaper than the other estimate. To make things worse, the manifold failed completely while they were here, so we had to shut the water off anyway. ABC started Tuesday afternoon with the prep work and will finish Monday afternoon. They are doing a PEX backbone system so I won't have the control box and individual water pipes you find on the Manabloc system, but everything is PEX and above ground. And it has a lifetime warranty. We should have partial water this afternoon, and the fans and dehumidifiers we have been living with for the last three days were pulled out this morning.

We can hear! We can hear!

The vacation we were scheduled to start on Thursday has been postponed for awhile, probably until after the new floor goes in, that shouldn't be more than a couple of weeks. We told our daughter we will get there eventually, we just don't know when. Trust me, it will be a great vacation!


Anonymous said...

Well, this is no fun. Hoping things are sorted now! - Michelle Starin

Anonymous said...

Just when you think it's safe to go on vacation. So glad it was before you left! Can you imagine coming home to a wet house? Dottie