Saturday, September 13, 2008

One of Many Reasons I Recommend Renting

Before we bought our house, I dreamed longingly of the day I would own my own place. I pictured how I would keep it clean, decorate and beautify it, tend its yard, plant a garden, cook dinner every night, and even start wearing makeup once I had an actual house to live in. We scraped together every cent we had (and many we didn't) to buy our first house four years ago. We love the neighborhood we live in. We are happy with our house. But there are days, like Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and today, for instance, when we wish we were still renting.

On Wednesday while Esther was at her first day of "preschool" (playing with 4 other girls at a friend's house once a week), I cleaned all three bathrooms (significant accomplishment worthy of its own post). While I was in the basement, I noticed that the toilet could not flush down the bubbles from the cleaner I had used in it. So I got out the plunger and went to work. About ten minutes later, the toilet could still not swallow the bubbles, and I was noticing that each thrust with the plunger caused a corresponding gurgle of water to come up the drain of the sink. I am not a plumber, but I did not think toilet water should be coming up the sink drain.

Later in the day Dan called my attention to the fact that water had risen up and out of the large drain in the basement floor near the washer and dryer. It was just a few inches of water, and since the floor slopes down to the drain, it was contained in the bowl-shaped impression in the floor. But still.

The next morning when Dan's visiting sister tried to flush the basement toilet and then plunge it for many long minutes, in vain, she reminded me that I needed to call a plumber. By then the water had gone back down into the floor drain, but I could see it glistening just under the surface. Luckily for us, our next door neighbor when we lived in our apartment is a plumber, and he came out that very afternoon to investigate. Four and a half hours later, he informed me that something is seriously wrong. The main sewer pipe that takes all the water from the house to the city line in the street is blocked, and he could not get it open, not with all of the tools in his entire van. He gave me the name of a trustworthy friend that does excavating and recommended that I call as soon as possible. I asked him if this is the kind of thing that costs more or less than $1000. He looked at me as though I was a naive child and explained as gently as he could that this could cost us upwards of $10,000. Oh.

The next day, instead of calling the excavator, I went to Ikea. That may, in retrospect, have been a mistake.

Today it started to rain. And rain. And rain. The basement toilet is not flushing, the water level in the basement floor drain is rising, and I decided it might be the right time to call the excavator, Mitch. He told me to call his colleague Dan, the sewage pipe camera guy, to set up an appointment to have the exact location of the blockage pinpointed. Dan told me that he can come Monday morning, but that to protect my home in the meantime, we should not flush ANYTHING but liquid down our toilets, we should avoid doing laundry, and generally use as little water as possible. Did I mention that it is still raining, and the water in that drain appears to still be rising?

So, water (and other liquid-y things) cannot leave our house, and we may have to fork over $12,000 that we don't have if the blockage turns out to be in the street. According to plumber #1's estimate, the blockage is 50-55 feet from our house, putting it right on the curb. If it is in fact not that far from the house, we may be spared the quintuple digit figure. If, however, the blockage is under the street, we will have to pay to have the street ripped up and put back together, thereby plunging us into the highest possible price bracket. Every hour or so I go downstairs to see if the water has risen above the drain. So far it has not. But the dirty laundry is piling up, not to mention the toilet restrictions. Dan (my husband, not the third plumber) has had a pained look on his face all day. I sometimes point out the many benefits to renting a home, and he always argues that we are much better off as home-owners. But today, he is starting to see things my way.


HW said...

Oh Andrea! I feel for you. Instead of calling excavating guys you should try calling the guys we did who replace the pipe by pulling a new one through the old hole and only digging two holes instead of unearthing your whole yard. (I know Roto-rooter will do it too but they seemed kind of slimy to me when we had them give a bid...) The company is Perimeter. Ask for Steve. He is really capable and smart. Perimeter LLC
8385 Jackson Road
Ann Arbor, MI 48103-9572
(734) 424-9280

HW said...

It costs about half as much to use the pipe bursting method as opposed to opening the whole thing up.

Kamity said...

Oh, Andrea! Ouch!! I can't imagine!!

LL said...

Yikes. Every time I see all the weeds in our garden and the unmowed lawn I kind of wish we hadn't bought a house until the kids were a little bigger. I can only mow with Mauri in the Bjorn or after they go to bed...lame...

Sorry about your pipes. That blows. We'll start praying for them. :-)

Alane said...

We used Perimeter, too, in putting in our sump pump. Steve was great.

Want to bring over some laundry? I'll call. I teach until 9 tonight, but the washer is used to late work.