How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Remember that time, not so long ago, when we were SOOOO close to finishing the upstairs bedroom? And how excited I was about that?

You probably have noticed I’ve been quiet for a bit on the blog – here’s the deal.

We took a vacation, and spent about 10 days on the beach in Maryland, and a day visiting friends in Philadelphia before making the drive home (and the drive, being 13 hours from Maryland, is where I get some of my best brainstorms for the house). We picked up Marina from the kennel (I like to call it “Puppy Camp”), and got home around 7 p.m. on July 3. All I wanted was a hot shower, and dinner. We opened the door, and I just heard spraying. Like, a hose in the house, spraying. I ran to the kitchen, Doug ran downstairs to the basement, and shut the water off.

I thought the water sounded like it was coming from the refrigerator, and the kitchen floor had a giant puddle around the fridge, and throughout the Butler’s Pantry.

(Most of these pictures were taken with my phone, and quickly – so they aren’t great. I was really documenting for insurance purposes.)

It’s hard to see the water on the floor, but it’s there.


Doug came up from shutting the water off, and I said, “Well, it doesn’t look too bad – just a big puddle. I think it was the fridge.”

He said, “It’s kind of bad. There’s a foot to two feet of water in the basement, depending where you are.”

No. No, no, no.


This isn’t our first time being cursed by water, or even the second. It’s the third.

The first was when we lived on Jackson Street, in a flood plain (though, it never really flooded, and our house was the LAST house on FEMA’s chart in the plain). In 2008, the Midwest was hit by flooding, and our basement filled up from top to bottom – another inch, and it would have gotten the hardwoods on the first floor. That was a big flood, and some people in our neighborhood even had to be boated out of their homes by the first responders. Even the Coast Guard helped, which was when I learned that the Coast Guard exists IN INDIANA. Who knew?

2008 Flooding.
2008 Flooding.

So, comparatively speaking, this wasn’t nearly as bad. But still.


Remember, we don’t have a garage, so all our construction materials and tools are in the basement.


Doug pulled the sump pump out to see if it was working, and it started smoking when he pulled it out. So that died. By this time, Lowe’s was closed, so I went a couple doors down to our neighbor Chad’s, who is restoring a house. He’s amazingly helpful anytime, and he actually uninstalled his own sump pump to lend to us. And then came over to be an extra set of eyes as we tried to locate the cause of the flood.

I started to mop up the Butler’s Pantry and Kitchen – I didn’t want the cabinets ruined. Marina (who will be featured a lot throughout this) was like, “Sweet! New bed!”


We moved out the fridge, because I was convinced that’s where I heard it coming from. Doug saw it basically raining throughout the basement, so he wasn’t as convinced. So Doug stayed in the basement and Chad and I looked while Doug slowly turned the water back on.

It was the water line of the fridge. It just split. In the video, it’s not very strong – because Doug didn’t have the water all the way up. While it was flooding, it was a strong spray. Who knows how long that was going on – it had to be a while, to get the kind of water in the basement that we had. Also, the amount of dog hair behind the fridge is revolting.



Back of the fridge.


Top of the fridge.


We dried everything off, and set up some fans in the fridge cubby, and finally got some dinner and went to bed. We had several people reach out to see if they could come help clean-up, and I said, “People. It’s the Fourth of July. You want to come and help us?”

Veronica, Edgar, Pete, Kate, and Brian. Our Friends and Heros. My friend Nicole (who has the loveliest shop ever), came by and dropped off tarps and cardboard, which we used to line and protect the hardwoods. It was raining off and on, so the plan was to spend the Fourth of July Celebrating our Freedom by bringing up everything from the basement that was under water, and sorting it, and letting it dry out on the first floor.

Doug went to Lowe’s for a new sump pump and then stopped at the Cottage (our rental house) for the two dehumidifiers that we bought when THAT place had a flood.

I spent the morning clearing the library and the dining room so we were ready for load zones.



The first hour, the trash pile wasn’t that big.


And, some good things! I found some great fixtures that I apparently bought at some point. So that was fun.


Her world was rocked. Middle of EVERYTHING.


AND OMG we found the thing that you put into your cassette player so you can play COMPACT DISCS in the CAR.


The basement smelled awful (a now-dead furnace – so no AC – didn’t help). So, after some struggle, we got one of the never-opened basement windows open to start circulating air. It helped enormously.


It also proved useful for removing the water-soaked lumber. WAY easier to pass it out the window, than to take it up the stairs and around a curve.



Ugh. But it was not salvageable.


Other fun discoveries included the long-lost pencil sharpener with a drill bit attachment. This thing is AMAZING.


Some of the tubs in the basement were just filled with water.


We also had two bags of concrete down there. Super fun.



There she is again.



Cabinet doors, bought for some project or another, with the plastic wrapping still on, and filled with water.


Stripey Cat (the neighborhood stray that I love so much – he’s super fun and sweet) was very curious. Apparently he jumped in the window at some point, and then jumped out.



Sometimes, your fence becomes a drying rack.



Special shout-out to Dymo Labels. Several tubs were underwater AND got washed by Kate and I, and the labels were SUPER intact.


Marina had a very, very long day.


Most of the tools are fine, but they’ll need a good clean.



So, three weeks before school starts, here’s what I’m doing, instead of finishing the beautiful bedroom.






The Bad Side :

My summer isn’t ending how I’d like. I was looking forward to spending time getting the bedroom finished, and that won’t happen. I have just over a week now to get the house ready to host the staff for band camp, all while getting my classroom and courses ready for the fall. I’m exhausted, and tired. And the bathroom that I was finally going to get designed, so I could FINALLY have a nice bathroom in the house, is now on hold.

The Good Side :

The kitchen wasn’t ruined. It wasn’t a leak on the third floor. It could have gotten on the hardwoods. The problem was easy to find. Since everything is out of the basement (and we threw so much away), the basement workshop is now next. This makes a lot of sense – instead of starting a bathroom, we’re going to build the workshop we eventually wanted in the basement NOW. Hopefully, this makes future projects much easier, and will cut down on lost time not being able to find things, AND we’ll be able to build more in the basement, instead of turning a room into a workshop. We’ll probably find a way to get an outbuilding to store the things we don’t need all the time, and this is a GOOD thing.

It could have been worse. But I’m really, really ready for something pretty. Because right now, it’s like a Lowe’s threw up in my downstairs. But even if I can’t fill my need for pretty, I can fill with my joy for all things organizational.

So, that’s where I’ve been.


  1. Next time you all will be away Amy, I’d have someone check the house or turn off the water somewhere, just in case.  Lovely home besides all that!arlene

    1. We usually turn off the water in the winter, but now we will all year. Our local police department actually does multiple checks on the exterior of homes when people are away (which is amazing!).

  2. What a bummer! Thank goodness the hardwood floors didn’t get ruined and the damage was in the basement. We were going to put in a water line for the ice maker but after seeing your fiasco we have decided we can just keep filling ice trays the old fashioned way.

    What I like about your blog is instead of whining and crying, you got in there and started cleaning the mess. Your neighbors pitched in to help and you looked at the positives. Good on ‘ya!

    1. Here’s what we’ve learned – copper water lines are the best. If you use those instead of the plastic ones, you should be fine! We’re switching to that. Apparently, the splitting of the plastic lines is common, and it’s unheard of with copper.

    2. And yes, looking at the positives is a trait of mine. We can’t change things except how we respond to them. And I want people to know that restoring isn’t just pretty before and afters….

      And, I did do a little crying. But just a little. 🙂

  3. Oh wow. I feel your pain. I’ve had two house floods from broken water lines. The first one was much like yours in that I was gone on vacation. It was horrendous–a hot water leak that steamed and molded and ruined almost everything I owned and changed my life forever. The other–in a new, different home–was not quite so bad. But when I built the second house, I told the plumber to put metal water lines to all the sinks and toilets, which he did. Guess what broke? The plastic connector to the metal water line to the master bathroom toilet. It flooded my closet, bathroom, and bedroom in 30 minutes. I hadn’t thought about a water line to the frig … ack!

    So glad your wooden floors weren’t ruined. And good for you in trying to look at the positive of all this stress, clean up, and heartbreak. The new workshop will be better in the long run.

    Meanwhile, chin up and don’t let mold take over.

    1. Oh, wow – what a mess! That sounds like when the Cottage flooded, in that you did everything right, and the wrong thing broke. In our case, we had the water turned off, and the pipe broke and split right below the shut off valve. There was literally no way for us to stop it, or turn it off without city help.

  4. . Your courage to renovate another house into a home after two other floods AMAZES us all. ! ! ! Bless you for letting all of us into your life, renovation and home ! !

  5. Water scares me to death. We always turn the water off to the whole house before going on vacation.

  6. We had a rubber washing machine hose burst once, luckily my wife was at home and was able to turn it off before it did more than flood the utility room. We have used the stainless steel supplies with metal connections ever since. Glad that you guys did not have a whole lot of damage, fixing isn’t as much fun as restoring…

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