Friday, December 17, 2010

Disaster Averted

While talking with my wife over the phone, my daughter interrupted me a few times to tell me about some noise coming from the stairs. Since I had earlier set a box fan in the hallway above the stairs to distribute the air better since our air ducting system in our house is inefficient at best, I assumed that she was hearing it and told her not to worry about the noise.

A while later when I was off the phone, my daughter again mentioned the noise and offered to 'show' it to me. She climbed halfway up the stairs, put her ear to the wall and said, "see!" Intrigued, I put my ear to the wall and the unmistakable sound of water gurgling made me blood run cold. It sounded like a pipe had burst inside the wall but since that wall was the same wall as the utility room below it, I decided to head down there to see which pipe might be going up through the wall and of course to shut off the water supply to the house.

When I opened the door to the utility room in the basement, I was greeted with a much louder sound of gurgling water and the visual sight of water dripping from the ceiling, pipes and wiring onto the floor and running to the floor drain. It wasn't a vast volume of water but definitely enough to get ones attention and so I proceeded to diagnose where it was coming from. In the wet half of the utility room, the sound of gushing water was the loudest in the vicinity above my water heater near a valve that controls water flow to my whole house humidifier. I shut off the valve and instantly the sound stopped so I knew where I was looking for the leak but still couldn't find it. So I turned on the valve and started following the plastic tubing between the valve and the humidifier and soon found the problem. The plastic tubing somehow had attained a pin point sized hole and was spraying water up against the ceiling and bottom of the stairs before being deflecting and dripping off various pipes and wires in the vicinity.

How does a plastic tubing develop a hole after seven years of flawless performance and while nobody was around? I haven't figured that out. It hadn't been happening for more than a day since two days before I had been down in the utility room in that very area turning on the whole house humidifier and then later doing laundry and I'm certain I would have noticed that house of the utility room was dripping water. It was also loud enough that I'm certain that in the quiet of early morning, I would have heard the noise from our living room earlier that same day. So sometime during the day, it decided to develop a leak that left unchecked, could have gone through a lot of water and done a lot of drywall, electrical and wood damage.  I made sure to heap lots of praise onto my daughter and reward her well for her services. Why anyone would break into my house and poke a tiny whole in some plastic tubing going to my whole house humidifier is beyond me but if I catch the bastard, I'm thinking of using the Chinese water torture method on them.

Post Script: A few days later, just when I was beginning to feel comfortable with my repair job, I went down to the utility room to get something and was greeted by water being sprayed everywhere. The bastard had struck again. Twenty dollars and an hour later, he had better bring pipe cutters next time because I installed copper tubing in place of the plastic crap.

8 comments:

sage said...

I don't know but it happens... Once, the ice maker line developed such a pinpoint hole behind the fridge and it was discovered till I noticed that the floor was getting soft! It was more than a few days and the kitchen floor and subfloor had to be replaced.

Vince said...

Imagine the number of newer houses that have that same plastic piping carrying the underfloor heating and are encased in 4" of concrete screed.
Ya hey for copper.

R. Sherman said...

I've got that stuff in my house, too and I hate it. The plastic stuff has caused me way too many problems over the years.

Cheers.

geri said...

Hope nothing like that happens to us here.

Ed said...

It has sure convinced me to go copper if I ever build my own home.

Murf said...

I've always heard horror stories of the refrigerator ice makers and whole house humidifiers which is why I have none and after reading this entry, glad of it.

Three Score and Ten or more said...

Well, I replaced the kitchen floor and the bathroom floor as well as a shower and a bunch of other stuff from a little plastic leak that I didn't even hear. I just put my had on the bathroom wall over the toilet (backed on the kitchen) and my hand went through the wall board.

TC said...

Yay for LA!