I do not make a habit of checking our water bill because it’s on auto-pay and always like $50 a month. But a couple weeks ago, we were starting to plan Edie’s birthday. I wanted to just have it here at the house, but Lauren wanted it at a local park. It was a huge ordeal trying to find out how to book a park pavilion. I finally found a spot in the neighborhood, which in order to book, required to prove my residency by providing my water bill. So, I went and found the water bill online and… it wasn’t $50 anymore. It was over $500 for two months running.
Sometime in July we went from using a couple thousand gallons per month to over 100,000! But how? There were no visible leaks or water pooling up indoors or out. I tried calling the utility company and they said all they do is read the meter, they couldn’t help with any leaks. So I called a plumber who came out a couple days later and tried doing leak detection around the house with an ultrasonic microphone to no avail. He said he would have to come back out a week later and charge $3400 and start cutting into walls and stuff trying to find the source. I figured insurance would cover it so said fine, we’ll just live with the gushing water leak for a while longer. But then I remembered we had switched homeowners insurance a while ago and I couldn’t even remember what company we were with, and all searches to find any trace of our insurance policy numbers and stuff were futile.
So I figured I could save a lot of trouble if I just found the source of the leak myself and fixed it. Because, you know, I know a lot about plumbing and all. There was this one really lush, bright green patch of grass in the front lawn after our Minnesota trip while the rest of the lawn was dead and crispy brown. I figured that could be a possibility, so I grabbed a shovel. I expected it to be a difficult dig, but instead the shovel effortlessly went down a foot into very moist soil. I dug a decent sized hole and noticed it pretty quickly filling up with water. Within seconds the hole was completely full. I laid on the ground and stuck my hand down there, shoulder deep, pushing some mud around and all of a sudden water started blasting out. I looked at the meter and the little triangle was spinning like crazy, but now the water was gushing into that hole and the manual shutoff valve was under a foot of water. What else could one do but go knock on the door of neighbor Donald, a retired fireman who is over the moon to come help on a project.
Not only was the shutoff valve underwater, but it hadn’t been turned in ages and due to shifting in the ground was at a really awkward angle. I felt around for many minutes with Donald’s special wrench as water continued to gush all over the yard. Finally I managed to get the wrench on the valve and turn it off.
I was able to get a plumber to come out on short notice, and was able to save lots of money by continuing to be the one to do all the digging to expose more of the busted pipe while the plumber supervised. It wasn’t long before he had it all fixed up and the water turned back on. An old PVC pipe from the 80s had eventually just given out and cracked open which is apparently pretty common in these houses around here.
In the meantime, I had my car over at the local shop getting the annual state inspection. I walked over to pick it up to find out it had failed due to low tread, and would have to get all new tires to pass. All in all October 18 was a very expensive day!