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I once called water my arch nemesis. While it is an amazing thing, water can also be a silent and very destructive thing.
There was the time we took a trip to the beach, turned the water on to the house and POP! Off came an old valve under a bathroom sink and water was shooting outward, flooding the room in moments. Try finding a store open with the correct parts to fix this at 10pm at night. Not the way anyone wants to start a vacation.
There was a trip to Williamsburg, VA, where a pipe burst in our hotel room bathroom flooding the room in minutes. We started tossing all the towels down to try to keep it contained to the bathroom while waiting on maintenance to arrive and get relocated to another room.
Then there was the time I noticed a stain on the floor in our master bathroom. The stain turned out to be from a leak where the wax ring at the base of the toilet bowl failed. That was on a Sunday and we quickly discovered that the flooring as well as a large section of the subfloor needed to be replaced.
The start of my battles with water though began innocently enough (also on a Sunday by chance) when I went to hang a new file organizer in our then office room in our first house. Let’s cut to the short version story … it involved me, a drill, and the main water supply line to the entire house.
My plan was just to hang a file organizer on the wall. I failed to say the least. Also, I kicked myself later because I was working at the time drawing plans for buildings and knew that gypsum wallboard (ie, sheetrock, drywall) is typically ⅜” to ⅝” thick. That said, unless at a stud, there is no reason to press the drill bit into the wall further than approximately ½”.
But I did.
And water started shooting out of the wall!
I laugh now thinking about it and how my gut reaction was to stick my finger to the hole to “stop” it like the story of the little Dutch boy. Needless to say, this didn’t fix the problem.
Handy Tip: always know where the water shut off for your entire house is.
After we shut off our water, we cut a hole in the wall to access the damage. Just my luck, the water supply line for the entire house was in that wall and I managed to drill a hole dead center in the pipe on the second floor. Not good. Being that it was a Sunday, and already having a bit of that DIY blood in us, we attempted to fix it. Multiple trips to Home Depot later, we learned that our new house had PEX piping and had the pipe repaired. Or so we thought.
After all seemed good for a couple of weeks, we had a drywall installer visit to patch the wall. I painted the room. We forgot all about the crazy pipe incident (mostly – I think Trent may have limited my use of power tools for a while 😉 ).
Of course, the story can’t be that simple. Shortly after we both arrived home at the same time after work one night. Relaxed. Glad the workday was behind us. We headed to the front door, put the key in the lock, opened the door and came face to face with chaos.
Sometime during the workday our “repair” gave way. Keep in mind, this all occurred on the second floor. As water began to leak out, it literally flooded portions of both floors of the house. Our two cats were in a panic. There was water coming from the ceiling. The wood floor in the hall just beyond the foyer was buckling. The upstairs hallway and office room carpet squished under our feet with standing water.
At some point I was so shocked, I started to laugh from the insanity of it all. That didn’t last long. I was truly horrified. Our brand new house wasn’t even a year old and we had flooded it. Although I felt mostly responsible because it all started with me and the drill several weeks earlier.
I called our insurance company, confessed my mistake from the drilling accident to the repair. We managed to find a plumber to come that night to help us get our pipe fixed the correct way so we could at least turn the water back on in the house (we also tipped him highly in cash so relieved someone would come after hours). Then welcomed the restoration company our insurance sent out. Those first days with flooring pulled up, holes cut in walls & ceilings, fans & dehumidifiers running … it’s not a good memory.
But we learned from it all and eventually, almost forgot. I’m still extra, extra careful with the drill.
In our current house, I made sure from the first walkthrough that I knew where the water shut off is. During a plumbing concern in our kitchen, I had the plumber check every valve shut off in the entire house to make sure they were all functioning and we didn’t need to replace another.
We replaced all 3 toilet bowl wax rings the day we bought this house because of the leak we dealt with in the master bathroom in our last house. We also replaced all the supply lines to our toilets, sinks, and washing machine with braided connectors since these are less likely to rupture.
Even so, we know that water can happen. A leak can occur when and where you least expect it. Sometimes, like our previous master bathroom, you don’t find out you have a leak until damage is done. This is why we now own a Lyric™ Wi-Fi Water Leak and Freeze Detector.
This little wireless device is a simple way to monitor appliances and pipes to help reduce the risk of leaks and frozen pipes. It’s battery operated and connects to your home Wi-Fi. As soon as a leak or freeze is detected, it sends a message to your smartphone to notify you so you can take action immediately. (You can also set it up to notify someone else such as your neighbor or your trusted plumber/handyman.)
I wish this sort of technology was available 12 years ago – it would have saved us a lot of stress versus walking in on a flooded home. Now, whether we are at home or away, we can use the Lyric™ app on our iPhones to quickly check on both the Lyric™ Wi-Fi Water Leak and Freeze Detector as well as our Lyric™ Thermostat. The latter we can even adjust.
This simple addition of smart technology has added peace of mind to our daily lives.
Do you have a favorite new smart home technology?