The Random Writings of Rachel: When is the Worst Time to Have a Plumbing Disaster?

When is the Worst Time to Have a Plumbing Disaster?

After a highly scientific experiment, I have discovered the single worst time to experience a plumbing disaster.

The Day Before Chinese New Year.

Granted, this worst timing assumes that one is living in a place where a large portion of the population celebrates Chinese New Year. If you do not live in such a place, your results may vary.

It all started reasonably enough. Sometimes we lightheartedly adopt a few of the customs that we're surrounded by, and since pre-Chinese New Year spring cleaning is conscientiously done by most of our neighbors, we decided that we, too, ought to join in on the trend and deep clean our home.

On Thursday evening, I wasn't available, but I donated Angel to the cause of the clean-fest going on at my parents' home, and after theirs was all clean, on Friday, Angel and I set to work cleaning our home as soon as he got back from work. It was going great! I'd scrubbed the stovetop, swept the floors, taken down all the screens from the windows, washed mirrors, wiped down the metal bars on our windows. We were nearing completion when I went to get a bucket of water so I could wash the balcony.

When I was picking up the bucket  of water, I bumped it into the faucet. I am not exaggerating when I say I bumped it into the faucet. It was not a resounding whack from a hammer, nor did I swing a mallet at the faucet with all my might. I bumped the plastic edge of the bucket on the bottom of the faucet, and the faucet exploded off of the wall, a geyser of water exploding with it.

I immediately started screaming, "Angel!!! Emergency!!! Turn off the water to the house!!!!!!!!!!"

Obviously, instead of running straight for the main switch-off valve, he ran straight for the bathroom where I was to see what was the matter, and first attempted to see if there was a valve so that he could turn off the water to just that bathroom. As he was finding that mission unsuccessful, I, with great presence of mind, was holding up buckets to the sideways geyser, managing to fill three buckets before he gave up and turned off the water to the house. I figured that with the house water turned off, we may well have a need for buckets of water stored! Also, at this point, I suddenly realized that I was thirsty, I had to go to the bathroom, and I hadn't yet taken a shower that day. Nothing like the threat of having your water turned off to make you realize just how much you need it!


Once the water was no longer shooting out of the wall, my very first thought was: "Oh no. Chinese New Year is tomorrow." My heart sunk.

You see, everything shuts down for Chinese New Year. I was in the bakery last week and a lady wanted to order a cake for Jan. 31st. "Cannot!" they told her, "We'll still be closed for the new year!"

Angel was assessing the damage, trying to see if anything could be fixed. I was immediately trying to get in touch with my parents to see if they could put us in touch with their plumber--to see if we'd be able to get one to come out before the new year. Results of Angel's assessment showed that a plastic pipe had cracked completely through, allowing the faucet head to fall off the wall, leaving a hole in the wall with a cracked pipe. Results of my investigation yielded two numbers to plumbers.

Angel called the first. "It's Chinese New Year! The plumber cannot come."

Angel called the second. "Wrong number."

Angel went out to visit a hardware store to see if he could find anything to at least enact a temporary fix. I went and enlisted my sisters to help with cleaning the last of our screens (since we no longer had water to clean them with), and Sarah offered the idea of a cork to use as a stopper for the pipe if we couldn't get the pipe fixed.

When I returned to our house with Sarah and a cork from her collection of random things, Mom and Dad had arrived at our home to inspect the situation. Angel had also returned, very quickly, because both hardware stores he visited were closed. Because of Chinese New Year. Obviously.

Dad contacted our landlord to ask if they could see about getting us connected with a plumber. Meanwhile, Mom was trying Sarah's cork idea. The first cork didn't fit, but then we had a sparkling grape juice bottle with a plastic cork in it in the kitchen. Trying that one--it seemed to fit the pipe pretty well! However, when we turned on the water to normal pressure, it exploded out of the wall, soaking Mom, who was standing right in front of the cork, waiting to see if it would work.

Eventually, we discovered that with duct-taping the cork into the pipe, and only turning on our water pressure to about 40% of normal, we just had a slight leak instead of an explosion. Dad heard back from the landlords--nope, no plumbers available due to the New Year, but they had gotten us an appointment for a plumber on Wednesday, Feb. 1st, 5 Days later.


Never have I been so thankful for 40% water pressure than I was after envisioning days of no water at home. I was so grateful to be able to slowly wash dishes under a trickle, to brush my teeth, wait agonizing moments for my glass to fill from the filter. No, really, I was super happy! 40% water is WAY, WAY better than no water. Like, a million times better. All thanks to a 10 year old and her idea that you could stop up a pipe with a cork from a bottle. I was a bit less happy about taking cold showers since we didn't have enough water pressure for our water heater to kick on...but we can't have every luxury, can we?

On Wednesday, I eagerly awaited the plumber. He didn't come, but I eagerly awaited him. On Thursday, he did show up, reattached a faucet, and then said we couldn't turn our water on for another six hours while the glue dried. What's 6 hours after the past week?

I was babysitting on Thursday and had to tell the 6-year-old that she couldn't wash her hands because we had no water. "Oh," she nodded knowingly, "You need to pay the bill. Then they will turn on the water for you again."

Wisdom from the mouths of babes. Although not applicable in this exact situation.



I'm happy to report that our water situation is back to normal, now.

All that to say, do NOT, under any circumstances, have a plumbing emergency over the biggest (and longest) holiday in your town. And buckets of water and brittle pipes should never come into contact with each other. And we're really thankful for our awesome landlords who got us a plumber at the earliest possible date!

Have you ever have something break in your home at the worst possible time?

12 comments:

  1. Ohhh my goodness, I am so, so sorry. My brother lived for a couple years in China and absolutely everything would shut down in the days before and following Chinese New Year. Hooray for duct tape and being resourceful! I'm glad your water situation is back to normal now!

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  2. Oof, I feel your pain! I was so nervous about something breaking or needing to go to the doctor last weekend because of "Lunar" New Year (as it's called here in korea). I know we would have totally been out of luck. My son had bronchitis and a bad ear infection during the Korean thanksgiving, and it was terrible.

    But in answer to your question, yes, when we lived in Virginia, and my third was a baby, our AC went out during a heat wave. It was 85 degrees downstairs, I have no idea how hot upstairs, and the electrician could t come for several days.

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  3. What a nightmare! Good on Sarah and her collection of random things. You have my full sympathies as our boiler just broke and we couldn't get a replacement for over 2 weeks. Luckily the heating was still mostly working, but the hot water was intermittent at best. Leading to every shower being a total gamble. Not my idea of the best way to start the morning!
    Oh and Happy New Year ;)

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  4. Oh your poor mom! I may have laughed a bit when I read that part, though. It was just so comical to imagine her standing there waiting to see if the cork would hold and then suddenly being drenched because it did not, in fact, hold. It's like a moment from a sitcom. I'm glad you found a temporary solution until it could be fixed, though. After I moved to the States I promised myself I would never take having constant water access for granted. Our water was always being shut off because of new construction being built or some other such thing. Plus we had terrible water pressure and very rarely had hot water. It's amazing how much you appreciate that 40% when you were dreading the possibility of being completely without! Good for you for keeping a positive attitude about it! :)

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  5. Smart little girl! Glad you at least had 40%.

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  6. Oh my goodness! This sounds awful to go through but it also seems really hilarious (in hindsight). So glad that you had 40% water and that a plumber was eventually able to come out!

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  7. Oh I completely feel you on this! I recently had my water heater break so it was cold showers for a few days. Fortunately it's all fixed now. Makes you appreciate when things are A-ok

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  8. WHAT A NIGHTMARE! But also so funny. I'm glad you got it all sorted out. You live in a tropical climate so you may roll your eyes at this, but two years in a row our air conditioner went out the Friday before Memorial Day weekend. And both years were record breaking heatwaves.

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  9. What a nightmare! I hate plumbing issues in general and when those Asian countries close down for a holiday they really really do close down! It's good in a sense but also very annoying. I'm glad you were able to have 40% water and am glad it got fixed.

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  10. We had the water turned off to our unit whilst they were doing repairs and I swear it was the thirstiest I've ever been in my life haha. I would have not coped in your situation!

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  11. Wow! The only no water experience I had involved us boiling water because of a sanitation scare. So we still had water but Couldn't drink it for three days!

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  12. I'm so sorry to hear that happened to you and seriously, talk about bad timing! I like to hear these "what could go wrong" scenarios as I'd love to own a home someday and I feel this gives me an idea of what to (kind of) expect :) glad it all worked out in the end (and smart idea re: cork!)

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