Plumb’s The Word

Posted: Friday, April 22, 2011 at 10:23 am
By: Doug Lund
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“Douglas, come down here!”

Whenever I hear those words uttered from the lips of my dear wife down in our basement..I shudder. First of all, it can’t be good if she uses my whole first name and if it IS bad news, there’s a 99% chance it has something to do with water.

The only time I ever saw Linda nearly collapse out of frustration and exhaustion was in the early 80’s when, after a summer cloud burst, water started seeping into the basement from several corners of the floor.

basement wet vacThis was before we were married but I was around to help pull up the glued-down carpet and move furniture plus all our kids each took shifts on the Shop Vac sucking up puddles which continued to form for several days. One of the first items on the domestic agenda after we were wed was to have drain tile installed downstairs which has kept even the severest rain storms and snow melts at bay. It was expensive but worth every penny considering how it saved my sweet wife’s sanity.  

If only that was the end of the story.  But no sooner did Linda feel confident enough again to put down new carpeting throughout the basement including the bathroom, than I heard from the depths of the deep; “Douglas.”  The drain which handles water from the washing machine and shower had plugged up causing sudsy solution to seep under the laundry room wall and soak the rugs. We now have Roto Rooter on speed dial but even after he left that day, Linda had to lift up the carpeting (not the glue-down kind this time) off the concrete floor and point every fan she could find in the direction of the wetness.

basement water heaterIt seems like we have some kind of water issue at least once a year. We’ve had to deal with mystery leaks from the furnace, air conditioner, water heater (twice), washer, sump pump and the shower which, on the night of my retirement with a house full of overnight guests, wouldn’t shut off. Just last month Linda came very close to walking out of this place never to return after she went downstairs to get something out of the freezer and felt a familiar squishy sensation in her stocking feet. “Douglas.”  We really had to search this time because, while the rugs were wet, there was no sign of leakage from any of the downstairs contraptions with pipes running in and out of them.  Finally, using her detective skills honed by years of practice, she zeroed in on the water softener. “Well, at least it’s a rental so we won’t have to buy a new one,” I said. But that wasn’t much comfort as Linda began the old routine of propping up rugs and digging out the fans. I made another feeble attempt to console her saying, “Look at it this way, there’s not much that can leak anymore down here that we haven’t already fixed or replaced.”   Why do I tempt fate uttering stupid stuff like that?

Earlier this week there came a shriek from the basement which was clearly more urgent than other times. I clomped downstairs to find Linda standing over the open toilet tank trying to deflect a powerful stream of water that, for a split second, reminded me of the glory days from my youth when I could muster up one like that and write my name in a snowbank..including the middle initial. But I digress. She’d removed the lid when the tank wasn’t filling and received a spray in the face from the faulty filler tube which also doused the wall and rug. In the pandemonium, I managed to reach around her and shut the water off. When the silence came and I saw her there dripping like she’d been standing in the rain, I wasn’t sure if she was about to laugh or cry. I do know that If I’d have given into my silly instincts right then I might be filling up a suitcase and looking for a cheap apartment someplace. Instead, I was off to Wally World in search of a toilet repair kit.

basement toilet

As usual, what is a simple task for most people becomes a major exercise in frustration for me. I first replaced the filler tube and it worked fine. For ONE flush; then the tank wouldn’t fill again. I dinged around with it for awhile then went upstairs to fix a drink vowing to approach the project with fresh eyes and attitude the following day. This is the part where you’re expecting me to say that I ended up calling a plumber and, I DID have my friend who knows his toilets, on standby. But no, this morning I went down, replaced the flapper and fiddled with the float chain for about an hour but, Halleluiah, it works!

I’m sure that’s finally the end of our basement water issues and from now on when Linda calls out my full name it will mean what it used to mean..not a disaster but a delight.

Take that, fate.


  1. joanie says:

    The story is great–the last paragraph is priceless!!

  2. Deb says:

    i really get a kick out of you blogs Doug.i look forward to them, they crack me up like this one .you are usually kicking your own butt haha i guess is one why to say it off the top of head. plain and simple i hope you continue for a long time. no matter what you write i enjoy and Linda have a Happy Easter. take care.

  3. Lynnal Nelson says:

    Oh Doug……… are a hoot. I remember you & Dixon in your “glory days” all too well. Glad you got the water problem fixed (for now)

  4. grouse says:

    Jeez Douglas….No woman could be that “flushed” with excitement. Linda had probably just finished reading the Lincoln-Douglas debates and realized that Douglas was right. They say that illusions of grandeur are the first signs of dementia…but don’t worry with medication and therapy, all will be well.

  5. Suzan says:

    Well, sorry to say there’s more work to do. I spent some time with my hand in your toilet this weekend. Darn chain wouldn’t stay connected to the handle arm. We won’t talk about the overflowing issue…I’m sure that wasn’t me! I hope you and Mom-Linda still let us stay. Seems our visits always exacerbate the basement water problems! We love you and enjoyed our Easter visit.

  6. blueeyes says:

    Our basement issues are finally behind us. Carpet was ripped out & we rented a floor sander with a blade that looked like a giant tin can lid with punctures in it. It tore the glue residue right off the cement but what a dusty MESS !! We vacuumed & washed floors & walls then PAINTED the floor. If water comes in now, it can’t harm too much because everything is stored in plastic tubs or on elevated shelves. When we returned the floor sander & blade, the rental guy was anxious to know how it worked for us because it was something new & no one had tried it yet so I guess we gave him his first review. Bedroom & bathroom have a few throw rugs on the painted floor now & that’ll have to do for the occasional guest down there. Hooray ! ! We can take a long vacation with peace of mind !!

  7. LeAnn says:

    Boy can I relate to this one!!!! I have lived in my house since 1979 and I couldn’t begin to tell you how many different water problems I have had in my basement…………..maybe it’s a good thing I never kept track. One of the worse ones was when the main shut off valve broke at 11:oo pm one night. The only way to stop it was at the street. After I turned every faucet on in the house , so that it would cut down how fast it was coming in at the shut off valvue, I called the water dept., told them exactly what happened and they would have to come out and shut it off at the street. I then turned on my outside lights so they couldn’t miss the house. About 10 minutes later a man called [ I could tell he had been sleeping] and said to shut it off at the meter. Yup that’s when my valvue blew……..I think I said stuff like what part of this message did you not get???? I’m sure I said more colorful stuff…. you get the picture. Then when he finally did get to my neighbor hood he was 2 blocks away trying to find my address…..???? dah, I was the only house in the neighbor hood with all the lights on inside and out. When he did show up he couldn’t get the cap off to shut the water off. By that time about 300 gallons had come in!!! Like I said this was just one flood story. We think a plumber died in my house, maybe at one time he lived in your house too. To matters worse I have my business in my basement. Water problem are like heart attacks, they usually happen in the middle of the night!!! Yup Linda I feel your pain!!!

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