Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Waiting for the Swarming Locusts

It has been an insane few weeks for anyone living in Western Washington! Surely there are believers out there who are convinced that the Armageddon is upon us. In early November we were treated to record flooding. Only weeks later, a snow storm hit - followed closely by a deep freeze that blanketed the region in black ice. Then a major wind storm knocked out power to over 1 million homes - leaving some people without power for over a week. Yesterday we broke a temperature record (56 degrees) as well as record rainfall.

If the weather wasn't bad enough, we have had a host of home improvement problems crop up. Two weeks before the wind storm we discovered a leak from the water line going into our new refrigerator. Our son woke us up at 1 am to let us know there was water dripping from the ceiling in the downstairs family room. Hubby ripped out a large portion of the ceiling to diagnose the problem - and a plumber came out and replaced the cracked tubing running through the attic with copper pipe in the floor between the 2 stories of the house. That was an $800 repair job, not including the repair to the ceiling (which still needs to be fixed). We also noticed that the Pergo flooring in the dining room suffered some buckling from the leak.

The night of the wind storm, we discovered a leak in the roof when water was dripping from the dining room light fixture. Hubby was busy dismantling the light fixture when the same water savvy son came up to tell him that the laundry room and bathroom downstairs were flooded. Thinking it was a water pipe that may have broken during the deep freeze, hubby turned off the water main. But the water kept coming. On our way out the sliding glass door downstairs, we discovered that the carpet in the family room was completely saturated. We were in the midst of torrential rain fall at a rate of nearly 2 inches every hour - and it turns out that the rain water was pouring in from beneath the sliding glass door and then seeping down the edge of the house into the bathroom and laundry room. We dug a "moat" around our concrete patio out back to help pull the water away from the house and were in the process of sucking up the water out of the carpet with a wet vac when we lost power. We had used up all of our dry towels on the laundry room floor so I pulled out some flannel sheets and tried to mop up as much of the water as I could. Then the carpet sat wet for the 4+ days that we were without power. The first chance we got, we rented a commerical carpet blower and dried it out - but a moldy smell lingered.

We had a friend come over and help us seal off the gap below the sliding glass door. We also called Empire Today (you know the tune - 800-588-2300 Empire - TODAY!) and ordered new carpet for the family room. While we were at it, we decided to have the Pergo upstairs pulled up and replaced with hardwoods - along with the kitchen and stairs. The carpet installers arrived a few days later and began pulling up the old carpet. We then discovered that the leak from the night of the wind storm was not fixed. The floor was saturated again. ARGH! We had to send the carpet installers away while we diagnosed and repaired the leak. We're pretty sure the damage was coming from a faulty downspout that was literally pouring rain water directly onto the edge of the foundation. We extended the downspouts, put in some drains, and were satisfied enough with the repair job to have the carpet installers back out the next day to finish the job. (The carpet looks awesome, by the way!)

The next day the hardwood installers showed up and pulled up all of the Pergo, kitchen linoleum, and carpet off the stairs. Surprise, surprise. The leak from the refrigerator left a huge patch of damp plywood floor beneath the Pergo and linoleum. The hardwood guys couldn't finish the job until that dried out - so out came the fans. In the meantime, the entire contents of our dining room and kitchen were stacked in the living room, and there were boxes upon boxes of hardwood stacked in our narrow hallway leading to the bedrooms. We could barely move around on the top floor of the house. It took 2 days to get the wood dried out and get Empire to send out another crew to finish the job. (Thank you, Moses, for a job well done!)

Everything is done now and it all looks great. It started raining again yesterday. I have been running downstairs every few hours to check the downspout and make sure the new carpet is safe. So far, so good.

In a way, it seemed like a fitting way to end an otherwise horrific year. In 2006, I was in a car accident that left my BMW a total loss; I suffered a trimalleolar fracture of my right ankle and spent all summer in a cast and/or walking boot; my grandfather's lung cancer has moved from his left lung to his brain to his right lung and now back to his brain; my sister has completely self-destructed - starting with a DUI accident, then jail time, losing her job, a felony charge, more jail time, and now a problem with meth.

I'm ready for a new year - new beginnings. Either that, or the swarm of locusts that will signal the end of it all.