Turn the whole basement into a tub?


Not as cool as it sounds

I’m going to start with the main event then toss in any other stories that come to mind. You may be wondering why there was no post yesterday.

I believe around 11pm two nights ago Heath woke me up because she heard some noise. She asked if there was a stack of wood in the basement and if it could have fallen over. “Yeah, that was probably it” I said and went back to sleep. I had plans to get a run in, and do some splitting and then get Heath and Peanut out the door for an early meeting so I had set my alarm for 5:45. At that time I got up and went to get a drink of water from the kitchen sink. I turned on the tap and the water pressure was terrible. My first thought was that it had gotten really cold that night and froze some pipes so I went to plug in my pipe heater deal. On my way downstairs I saw some water and thought the pipes had froze and broke. Then I opened the door and discovered lots and lots of water and more continuously flowing from the drain spot on the hot water heater.

I ran through the puddle to the shop and turned off the water supply to the house. I got Heath up and we tried to find a way to catch some of the 40 gallons of water still pouring out of the heater plus any left in the pipes. We got a small bucket to large bucket to outside collection method.

It’s hard to see in pictures but there was water everywhere and several rugs were soaked through.

Wood along the ground was wet and was pulling the moisture up the walls.

I started taking rugs outside and pushing water to drains and and of course taking pictures.

So what happened?


This was located on the bottom of the hot water heater. Somehow it broke and shot off durring the night, then water poured from the hot water heater it constantly tried to refill itself and heat the new cold water.

I have no idea what happened but our hot water heater was from 1987 so I’m guessing it was just age. It was in a closet and there was nothing around it that could have put any new pressure on the valve and the whole house is behind a regulator that had the pressure steady.

We got Heath and Peanut off and I started dehumidifying and running the wood stove real hot and shop vacing up the water. I put up all the fans I could find and moved around a bunch of stuff. I turned off the gas to the house and closed the water valve right before the tank and turned on water to the rest of the house. Then I removed the old tank.

I went fairly show and paid attention so I could replace with a new one. Then I worked on drying stuff until Sears Outlet opened. Their website said they sold hot water heaters and we got our fridge so cheep I went back looking for a dented heater. I got there and found they can order new ones but don’t sell any in the store. So I headed to Home Depot instead and picked one out and brought it home.

The install went ok but not great. As I was moving it into the closet I knocked a water pipe loose and had to solder some copper pipe back together and then when I turned on the gas and put soapy water on the connections I found a leak.

So I took apart and put back together until there were no leaks. I filled the tank, lit the gas and started warming it up. I started thinking about how nice a shower would be but needed the water to warm up first. I did some rearranging of fans and dehumidifiers then got a call. I was supposed to cut up a large maple tree at 5 for some craigslist lady. She was calling to apologize because a tree service was there getting my firewood. I asked if they were still working and if I could have the wood. She said they were and she didn’t care. I rushed over and got the guys to leave me 1.5 pickup loads of wood. I helped cut it up and they helped load my truck. Then I headed back to the basement and discovered hot water hitting the floor again. I turned off the water and the gas and got a bucket. On the side of the heater near the top is the release valve that lets water out if there is too much pressure or it gets too hot.

(my new one had no pipe yet so it was hard to catch the water)

This story is getting long so I’ll hurry. It was too hot to mess with and I was worried it was too hot so I let it cool and ran to pick and pull and picked up my van bolt and a taillight for Stooks. Then I tried to find what was wrong. I could not add water and not have the release valve leak. I tried a bunch, talked to Jon, talked to the customer support people and we all agreed the release valve was faulty. They could send me a new valve in a few days or I could drain the tank, remove it, take it to Home Depot and get a new one. I was watching both kids at this point as Nanny had left and Heath had run to a meeting so I took a break and played.

Then when Heath got home I took the tank back to HD. Heath talked me into a bigger tank so I didn’t get the same one and I had a tough time getting someone to get a box off a high self and then getting the cashier to refund the old one and buy the new one. Water heater installation was fresh on my brain so the new one went in perfect. No leaks or anything, stuck it in, connected all the pipes, lit her up and set her loose. Then I ate a ton of Mexican lasagna I had luckily prepared the night before.

Then I ate a giant bowl of butterscotch pudding and Heath and I watched Dexter. Just before bed we took quick, slightly warm showers. This morning things were still great. I lit the gas on the furnace again and checked for leaks then took a hot shower.

Ok random pictures of fun from the last few days.

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12 Responses to Turn the whole basement into a tub?

  1. Brian says:

    Damn, that sucks! Sounds like you got it all worked out though. Good thing you are a handy man. 🙂

  2. Heather says:

    Man, I’m stylish first thing in the morning!

  3. thePrewitt says:

    too bad no one can see the big rubber boots you were wearing

  4. Brian says:

    Heather, I thought that picture was kinda hot.

  5. Brian says:

    P.S. You guys need Gravatars so I can see your pretty faces next to your comments. Creat a WordPress.com account and choose a Gravatar. Any post with the same email will cause your Gravatar to show!

  6. Heather says:

    Let me try this gravatars thing out….

  7. admin says:

    Sweet! I already see it!

  8. Heather says:

    Now I just need to remember how to log in so I can change it to an actual picture of my face….

  9. Lynsey says:

    Just got around to reading this today…may I offer some advice for drying out the basement? It would be a REALLY good idea to make some small holes in the base of the walls that got wet (the ones that have drywall or wood finish on them). This will help the inside of the cavity dry, and possibly prevent mold growth. Not to freak you out, or anything, but I deal with this stuff on a daily basis.

  10. thePrewitt says:

    Lynsey I would love your advice. I would like to give you some more information and see if you still think I should drill holes? I’ve got 2 dehumidifiers, 2 fans and the wood stove going. I think the wood stove has been the most effective. Everything dried really fast and I think that is from the wood stove. By the next morning there was no water or moisture anywhere to find. In the spring we run a dehumidifier in the basement but not the wood stove and it fills up the tank in about 24 hours. I’ve been running both dehumidifiers for over 48 hours and neither one has filled up yet. So I am thinking that the air is super dry down there from the stove and it is pulling lots of moisture out of everything? What do you think?

  11. Lynsey says:

    Chris,
    Sounds pretty good to me. Wood stoves are great about burning all the humidity out of the air. Scott & I heat almost entirely with wood, and sometimes the static electricity is unbelievable. The humidifier activity (or lack of activity) sounds pretty promising, too. My only concern, and it’s a minimal one, is that the water that leaked was probably fairly warm since it was coming from the water heater. The warm water makes mold a little easier to grow. Getting rid of the west carpet/pad is also very important. Wet carpeting can develop weird odors. Do your humidifiers drain automatically into a floor drain, or do you have to dump them? It might not hurt to modify the collection tubs so they connect to a hose and drain into a floor drain…leaves less opportunity for forgetting to empty the tubs and then flooding the space again. About the only other thing I can suggest is to get your hands on a moisture meter, and do some testing of the wall finish materials. At work, I tell people if the drywall is greater than 10% moisture content, it really should be removed. But, that’s up to you. Sounds like you’ve done a good job of getting things dried out, and the main thing is you got to is really quick!

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