The Not-So-Great Flood of 2011

Last spring was very wet.  Many Massachusetts homeowners found their normally-dry basements flooded, and towns had to redraw their flood plain maps.  A few of the homes we toured during our house-hunt had serious basement moisture issues.  I felt confident that the home we purchased did not have drainage problems because only a little water seeped in through the bulkhead, and if Sonya, the previous owner, had properly closed the bulkhead door, there probably would not have been a need for towels to soak up water at the base of the bulkhead.

My confidence in our basement’s ability to stay dry was shaken Thursday evening, when I went downstairs to feed Pumpkin and my bare feet came into contact with sopping wet carpeting.  A quick investigation revealed that over half the finished area of our basement was wet.  The bar and bathroom were damp, and the carpeting felt like a giant wet sponge.  The source of the water was unclear.  The bulkhead was dry; it hadn’t even rained recently.  There were no obvious leaky pipes, and the walls were not wet above the baseboard.  Neither the washing machine nor the water heater were standing in puddles.  We didn’t know who or what to blame.

We had someone from the town water district come to help us determine whether the water was coming from inside or outside our house.  Perhaps a water main outside our house was leaking and causing the water table to rise?

The plumber spent a couple hours listening to pipes outside and inside our house, but he couldn’t hear any leaks, and our water meter confirmed that the pipes inside our house were intact.  The source of the water remained a mystery until Friday morning, when I went downstairs to try yet again to figure out where the water was coming from.

Drip, drip, drip, drip…  A peek into the utilities closet revealed the culprit: a faulty T&P valve on our water heater.  Anytime we used large volumes of hot water (i.e., to take a shower), gallons of water streamed out of our water heater.  Lesson learned: no basement is safe from floods without an emergency drain for the water heater.  I don’t understand why it was not standard practice to install such drains when our house was built in 1955.

Happily, the damage was covered by our insurance, and a clean-up crew arrived Friday afternoon.  They ripped out our nearly new berber carpet, sprayed an antimicrobial agent all over, and set up blowers and a commercial dehumidifier for the weekend.

Looks like we get to remodel our basement.  Some of the baseboards had to be removed, so those will need to be replaced, and the entire basement will be repainted.  Parts of the bar in contact with the floor were ruined, too.  We never really liked the poorly-constructed bar, anyhow, so we had it entirely removed.  And of course, we’re getting a new floor and a new water heater.  The old water heater was 15 or 16 years old, so I can’t really blame it for breaking.

We’re thinking about putting a floating wood laminate over the asbestos tile / sticky tile hodge podge that was revealed when the carpet was pulled up.  I’m a bit concerned about the susceptibility of laminate floors to water damage, but I’ve been reassured that in the event of another small flood, most of the floor could be saved, provided it’s pulled up in a timely fashion.

In completely unrelated news, Peter cut his first two teeth last week.  First the front lower right tooth, then the front upper right tooth.  He’s been in a fairly good mood despite the new pair of incisors poking through his gums.

Peter seems to be hitting his milestones in a timely fashion, provided we adjust his age for prematurity.  He was reevaluated by Early Intervention on Cinco de Mayo, and he did well, scoring at a level of 7 months for cognition, fine motor skills, gross motor skills, feeding, and expressive communication.  He scored at 8 months for receptive communication and 9 months for social interaction.  My baby is such a flirt!

Peter also had an unremarkable 9-month check-up with the pediatrician last Monday.  He has now more than sextupled his birth weight, weighing in at 16 lbs, 6.5 oz.  How many 9-month-olds do you know who can boast as much?  However, Peter’s head is still a bit large when compared to his weight and especially when compared to his height, so Dr. Selim ordered a cranial ultrasound.  We haven’t been told the results yet, but I’m assuming that everything looked normal because the sonographer seemed completely relaxed and unconcerned.

Also exciting: the photos that my friend, Ryan Kenner, took of me and Peter a couple weeks ago are now available to ooh and aah over.  You can view them on Ryan’s blog here.  Many thanks to Ryan and his wife, Laura, for the wonderful gift!

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