So Then I Fixed the Furnace
Published On: July 13, 2012

Some time yesterday afternoon I decided I’d clean up the kitten corner in the basement.  (The corner where the kittens’ litter boxes live…the kittens themselves have free reign of the house.  Don’t worry that they’re stuck downstairs or anything, two of them are in my office right now as I type.)  We have some super cheap-o carpet (the kind from Home Depot meant for going in garages) under the boxes to keep them from bringing anything out on their paws.  Every now and then, it’s good to replace that carpet.

In the process, I noticed a puddle.  A puddle under the hot water heater.  My first thought was kitten indiscretion, but this was quickly ruled out.  (I’ll leave the details to your imagination.  Isn’t adulthood glamorous?)  There was another reason they weren’t the culprits.  For you see, a bit more exploration revealed that the puddle measured about 12 feet by 2 feet and stretched all the way from the hot water heater, behind the basement stairs (hence its stealthy nature), behind the dehumidifier (no wonder the thing had been running non-stop), and over to the laundry drain.  Kittens can’t make that sort of mess (note, kittens, this is not a challenge, please don’t feel the need to prove me wrong).

Keen.  Was this a good time for such a discovery?  No…not really.  The washing machine is starting to develop some exciting personality quirks and I’ve been mentally allocating funds for its imminent replacement.  I didn’t much want to get a water heater instead.  Just to make it more fun, The Boy was stuck at work (I confess I have a tendency to summon him in the face of mechanical mishaps) and couldn’t come deal with it.  Best of all, there were plans to be away this weekend.  Nifty nifty nifty.  I used a variety of colorful phrases to express my feelings on the matter.

A bit of exploration revealed a different possible culprit.  There seemed to be a pipe running from the furnace over to the laundry drain.  Now this struck me as awfully odd.  I think of the furnace as a big box of hot air.  I don’t think of it as having water involved at any stage of the process.  But, this pipe looked like the sort of pvc pipe that so often has water running through it, and it went to the drain.  Just as significant, the little elbow where it turned and ran along the wall (right beside the hot water heater) had come loose.  That’s where the puddle was deepest.

I formed a plan.  First, jam that pipe back together.  Second, strategically employ a collection of towels and fans.  Third, retreat to the computer and consult the internet.  Turns out yes, that pipe is for water (condensation, not water piped in from your house’s water system).  Awesome.  Further investigations seem to confirm that this was the source of the leak.  As in things are getting dryer, not wetter, now that it’s plugged up.

Somewhere in the middle there, I decided that this was the sort of thing one tells the internet about, so worked on setting up that whole twitter thing.  It was likely a terrible error, and I reserve the right to run, screaming, back to 2002 and abandon it completely.  But for now, it’s over there on the side of the screen.  If you know what to do it, do feel free to let me know.

But…back to the basement (see, I like long stories with lots of words, which is why I’m leery of twitter).  The leak seems to have stopped and the puddle is largely dried up.  We’ll be sealing up that pipe so it doesn’t pop loose again.  Then of course will be the sure-to-be-delightful process of cleaning out anything that got wet.  I don’t know what’s under your basement stairs, but ours seems to be home to scrap lumber, broken window screens, old cardboard boxes, and missing socks.  This should be great fun.


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