You are really in for a treat today! We thought this day would never come. Some said it was impossible (Sam). Some said it was merely extremely improbable (Sage). But today we prove them wrong. That’s right: Brad has actually written a post for this blog! And he only had to destroy half the house to do it.
Just kidding, dear.
I have to say, it’s not actually a terrible post. (Yes, Sam, that means the pressure is on.) So, without further delay, let me turn it over to Brad!
That’s right, beautiful blogreaders, it’s your first ever Guest Post From Brad!
First of all, I’d like to thank the 58% of you in the recent Blogiversary poll who said that I’m the life-partner that reads the blog. You guessed right really do pay attention to all the nice things Naomi says about me! Thanks for believing in me!
You might look around at all of the nice improvements to our house and say, “Naomi, you sure are a talented and wonderful decorator!” At least, that’s what I imagine everybody says when they read this blog. But, you should know that I also contribute to nesting in our wonderful new home!
In theory, I co-own the house with Naomi. I may or may not even be the head of the household, depending on what’s useful for our tax filings and the whims of this blog’s commenters. Just like with any household, we have a healthy division of chores. Mostly, I lift heavy objects and take photos when safety requires two hands on the power tools. Occasionally, I shovel the driveway and provide helpful tips like, “hey, you missed a spot” or “wow, do you really think that’s the best color choice?”
But most of all, I do the laundry.
No joke, this is the first picture we took after we moved in.
It’s not that I like doing the laundry, it’s just that I really don’t do much to contribute to the household, so I better at least do this. I’m pretty sure Naomi hasn’t figured out that she does waaay more chores than I do. She just knows that I disappear into the basement for hours at a time, and emerge with fresh clothes for her to wear for the rest of the week.
Anyway, the weekend before last, Naomi went out to do some errands, so I did what I always do as soon as Naomi leaves.
A PRINCE DANCE PARTY!
I turned up the music really loud on my computer, and had a grand old time bopping around the house by myself.
And I did so many useful things! I fed the birds, I tidied up in the kitchen, I started a load of white laundry, I shined my shoes…
But that’s where it started to go off the rails.
I hadn’t shined my shoes for a while, and discovered that my black shoe polish had completely dried out. It took an extra long time to shine them, and then I had to get rid of the crusty, cracked polish. Since I’m also the head of the sanitation department (a/k/a I take out the trash and recycling) I took the time to carefully remove all of the polish from the inside of the little tin, so that we could recycle the tin. But, the kitchen trash was so full that I knew I’d end up getting shoe polish all over the can. So, I collected all the garbage from upstairs to bring down to the basement.
Now, all this time, I’d been listening to my Prince Dance Party. So, while I was doing the dougie to Lady Cabdriver, I couldn’t actually hear that the water had been running this whole time.
And as I said, I’d been running a load of whites, so when I opened the basement door, I found my basement much foggier than I’d left it…
So, I reacted exactly as you might expect:
So, after a few panicky moments, I marshaled my Jedi powers and set them onto assessing the situation. First of all, the washing machine was flooding.
STEP ONE: TIME TO TURN OFF THE WASHING MACHINE!
When I reached the machine, I noticed the machine wasn’t flooding. A hose had burst, and was spraying hot water all over the floor. So, I turned off the hot water at the valve leading to the washing machine. That stopped the flood from getting worse, but not before the hose had spilled roughly 100 gallons of hot water all over the basement floor.
STEP TWO: You probably want to turn off the electricity. Our basement is large, so the flood wasn’t deep, and the only appliance running had been the washing machine, which paused when I interrupted the water.
We have a wet/dry vacuum. I’d like to pause for a moment to explain why you should have one too: IN CASE YOUR BASEMENT FLOODS!
…or any other disaster involving water.
The thing about a portable wet/dry vac is that you won’t need it for years, so the temptation is just not to buy one. Why would you want some horrible, ugly, bulky piece of junk that doesn’t look like it should even work, like some junky droid you picked up off the Sand People in Tatooine? Because it might contain a secret message for you from your basement: “help me Obi-Brad, you’re my only hope.” We got our wet/dry vac from my dad’s golfing buddy Bob, who gave it to us because he was downsizing townhouses, and didn’t want to have a horrible, ugly bulky piece of junk in his new home. So, he gave it to us to have in our new home. It doesn’t even have all of its pieces, so it is really in rough shape.
But boy is it a good thing I had it.
And that’s why you should have one too.
STEP THREE: you probably want to get rid of the water.
I plugged in the wet/dry vac to a GFCI outlet in the adjacent, unflooded garage, to minimize the risk of electrocution in case there was any contact at all with the water. Then, I started vacuuming up the water. It took a long time.
It got to be a little fun, watching little soapy islands make their way across my basement floor into the hose. But then I’d remember that I was watching little soapy islands making their way across several inches of mold-producing, furniture-wrecking, shock-inducing deluge. Then, it wasn’t as fun.
I also thought about how much trouble I was going to be in when Naomi got home.
But that wasn’t so bad afterall. When Naomi got home, she was in a shocked state of disbelief, and didn’t really say too much. She just stood there and watched me vacuuming up the water. As helpful as that was, I suggested that there might be something more helpful to do…
STEP FOUR: empty the flooded area. Of everything.
Fun fact: our basement is the storage area for all our cardboard boxes, Craigslist furniture waiting to be made over before your eyes, things to get rid of, tools, paint, sports equipment…etc. There’s a lot of junk down there. When you have a flooded area inside your house, it’s vital to remove and dry out absolutely everything as quickly as possible, because you really only have about 48 hours before you start growing mold. Thankfully, we’re in the midst of a never-ending garage upgrade, so we had a ton of empty, well-ventilated space to move wet boxes and wood furniture to.
Naomi and I moved out everything, and I vacuumed up the rest of the water. It took about 3 hours to get all 100 or so gallons sucked up.
STEP FIVE: ventilate and clean
To prevent mold, it was important to open every window and get the whole area dry as fast as possible. Ordinarily, we’d have run a dehumidifier, but we’re currently between dehumidifiers. So, we just air-dried. I ran a fan for a few hours, pointed down and cranked up to high, in order to maximize airflow. Thankfully, in winter, it’s pretty dry in New England, even in flooded basements. As soon as areas were dry, I scrubbed and ran over them a second time with the vacuum. We pulled up and discarded some gross carpeting inherited from the previous homeowner, rather than try to save it.
STEP SIX: after 48 hours, look and smell for mold
Thankfully, because we acted quickly, we managed to avoid any obvious mold in the basement. We did discover a little bit that had been growing on some surplus bamboo flooring that we’d stored on the basement floor, but are pretty sure it was growing before the flood. Other than that, we appear to have dodged mold damage from this particular flood.
After dealing with our own personal monsoon season, we decided it would probably be a good idea to fix the washing machine situation, because this all started when we ran out of clean clothes to wear.
When we finally took a good look at our washing machine hoses, it was pretty obvious that we could have avoided all of this a lot sooner if I’d paid any attention, like, at all, to our plumbing. Seriously, look at what awful shape these are in:
You may remember that our home inspector told us that all our appliances are “fully depreciated”. Well, that includes the washing machine hoses. At some point, the hot water hose (left) had bulged. It’s more descrete post-flood, but clear evidence of a sizable bulge remains. If you ever see a bulging water hose, turn off the water immediately, because it could burst at any moment. Depending on the complexity of the plumbing and your level of Aquaphobia, you can either replace the hose yourself or call a plumber. On the right, you can see that our cold water hose had a different problem. Its connections had rusted and were in an advanced state of decay. So, obviously, the thing to do was to replace both hoses, right?
Like an idiot, I replaced the hot water hose, and left the cold water just the way it was. Impressively, on the next load of laundry, the cold water hose failed too.
The only reason the basement didn’t flood again is that I was standing right there when it happened. I shut off the water, cleaned the area, found out that the hardware store was closed for the night, and went to bed because COME ON!
So the next day, we did it all over again.
To replace a washing machine hose, all you need is a pipe wrench, a roll of plumbers’ tape, any needed adapters (we needed a male-male adapter to fit the cold water hose to the cold water pipe), and the hoses. Your standard washing machine hose is a 6 foot, 3/4 inch female-to-female black rubber hose. You’d be better off investing a little extra money on a stainless steel braided hose, which is much less resistant to bursting. When we upgrade the washer and dryer, that’s exactly what we’re going to do. YOU HEAR ME, NAOMI? WE’RE GOING TO SPEND THE EXTRA MONEY AND GET THE GOOD HOSES. But, for now, with a washing machine that we’ll replace in a year or two, I went with the cheapest black rubber hoses I could get from Ace Hardware.
Fixing these rubber hoses is super easy. It has to be, because you’re supposed to replace them every 5 years, or everytime you get a new washing machine.
But nobody does that, right?
You’re also supposed to turn off the water running to the machine every time you’re finished using the washing machine. I bet you don’t do that, either, do you? I bet you love to go on weeklong vacations to the seaside, and you leave that little water valve open the whole time you’re gone. Your washing machine instruction manual tells you to turn off the water, but I bet you didn’t read the manual, either, did you?
Really, none of us has any good excuse for a basement flooding because of a washing machine hose. But, I digress.
Since I’ve done this twice this week now, I figure I should probably share the simple steps for changing a washing machine hose.
STEP 1: Turn off the water. It’s surprisingly easy to forget to do this. Not that I would know…
STEP 2: Put down some towels, unplug the machine, drain the drain hose, and generally prepare for disaster. You’re about to unplug a water-filled hose from an electrical appliance. So, be safe and be tidy.
STEP 3: Using your pipe wrench, remove the hose. Remove from the washing machine first, drain it, then remove it from the water source. If you have an old machine, you might just clean the area where the hose attaches to the machine, too, especially if there is any visable debris, grime, etc.
STEP 4: Attach a new hose. Attach to washing machine by hand, then tighten with your pipe wrench. On the pipe end, I found that I couldn’t get a good seal until I used plumbers’ tape on the male ends of my connections. Again, attach by hand, then tighten with your wrench. The trickiest bit about this is knowing when you’ve tightened it enough. You really just want it to be snug, and not too tight. If your pipes aren’t sturdy, you can bend the pipe by yanking too hard with your wrench on a tightened hose. I know, because it’s clear that a previous owner did just that.
STEP 5: Test for leaks. Turn on the water. If your hose didn’t just turn into a garden sprinkler, try running the machine. If you have any leaks, cut the water, tighten, and try again. I had one hose that wouldn’t stop leaking, and found that I needed to detach it, retape it, and then reattach it. Then, it didn’t leak again.
So there you have it. For those of you whose men never contribute around the home, behold! I have contributed my very own disaster. So, I guess be careful what you wish for?
And seriously, buy a wet/dry vac so that you too can be like this:
and not like this: