Monday, February 21, 2011

Multiple Choice

I could really use some advice.  Seriously.

So, remember the Great Flood of 2010?   Because the creek behind my house was bringing so much of the flooding to the neighborhood, the city spent a fair amount of time hanging around my house, watching stuff.    They sandbagged the creek, the sandbagged my driveway, and we all got to be good friends.  The foreman, Charlie, had a peek at the cellar before and during the worst of the flooding and arranged for a plumber friend of his to install a sump pump for me, and an electrician friend to install a new outlet, since a pump requires its own, separate, grounded power source.  So that gets all done in the wee hours the day before that second flood, and the whole system worked like a charm.   Sure, I got a couple of inches of water during the second storm, but the week-old water heater and furnace, replaced after the first round of flooding, were unscathed. And dry.  I was immensely grateful, and made them cookies.

Well, the plumber that did the work is a city employee (who did the work on his own time, so no tax dollars involved).   But the only number I have to reach him is the city water department.   Thinking it was his cell phone, I called him on Saturday for a rather urgent plumbing ... ah, let's just call it a "situation".    More about that later.   So the city guy (who remembered the cookies) passed along a message, and the plumber called me Saturday and told me he'd be here on Sunday afternoon.   Well, here it is now Monday morning, and still no plumber.

And in case you're curious, here's the sequence of events:  I came home on Friday night to a wet downstairs bathroom floor and both boys denying any knowledge of a toilet backing up. This was just the first "hmm" of many this weekend, it would turn out.   The toilet flushes fine, but for lack of a better word, it's a little gurglier than usual. Then, on Saturday morning I went into the cellar to do laundry, only to find an inch-deep puddle, about 10 feet in diameter, directly under said bathroom.  With an appropriately audible "harumph" I cleaned this up, did my laundry, and went on with my day.

Ah, but now the plot thickens. The washer drains into a soapstone sink, which thankfully has a greater capacity than the front-loading washer, because when I returned to the cellar to change the laundry, both basins of the sink are filled with water.  Not overflowing, but filled 4/5 of capacity.

And the toilet that was gurgly but working fine? Not so much. Someone flushed and walked away, leaving lucky me to discover another wet floor and another inch-deep puddle in the cellar.  Thank you, FEMA, for that awesome shopvac.

No, I'm not done yet.  There's more.
So this morning I'm sitting quietly on the couch with Zoet, and we're watching Good Morning America (yeah, she thinks George Stephanopoulos is hot) and we hear a very distant ... can't quite place it ... barely audible woofing sound from ... is it outside?  Even Zoet noticed it, and I was curious.  It didn't sound like Daisy, our shepherd next-door-neighbor, and it didn't sound close enough to be a dog walking into the Fells right outside our window.  So I pulled a Timmy, and sent Lassie Zoet to find the source of the noise.

One of the boys was in the shower, which is directly over the downstairs bathroom, the aforementioned gurgly-toilet-bathroom. And the running shower was somehow causing air to bubble up through the toilet bowl: hence, the gurgling.  What's worse, as the gurgles continued, I saw the water level in the bowl rising.

So here we are, in a house with an upstairs shower that empties into a blocked downstairs toilet and a downstairs toilet that empties directly onto the cellar floor. (So no shampoo-rinse-repeat today, boys. Today you can take an if-you-really-took-a-shower-why-is-the-soap-still-dry shower.)

I am reluctant to call the city department again to try to get ahold of the plumber I was expecting to see yesterday, and in the meantime, I have found the name and number of a actual plumber who did actual work for us a couple of years ago.   So do I ...

A.)  Wait for the first guy?  And if so, how long do I sit in silence?
2.)  Call the city again and have them pass along another message?
C.)  Call 2-years-ago-guy and hope he remembers us and can come out?

Please advise. Quickly.


  1. My opinion? You can't wait for A. You have to be willing to call with a gentle reminder. It also can't hurt to have item 2 as a backup. Plumbing problems need to be taken care of ASAP, so if no one responds by later this afternoon, I think you should follow C. Yes?

  2. AR/Amy - Yeah, I picked (C) -- called and left a message. Now mind you, all I have is a post-it note handwritten two years ago with his name and number, and a vague recollection that the plumber's name was "Mike". So I hope this is the right guy ... at the end of my message I asked him to call me back, even if he's not "Mike the Plumber", just so I could at least know if I have the right guy. Fingers crossed.

  3. So, what happened? Did you hear from anyone? Sounds like you definitely need a plumber sooner rather than later.

  4. 7pm ... still waiting ... Since the washer does not fill the sink to overflowing, I also decided to run a small load of laundry. If the sink drains by tomorrow morning (it took at least an overnight to drain yesterday), then maybe I'll try the next load then. But the washer doesn't contribute to the water on the cellar floor, so that's an upside!