5/31/11

Zack hits a dinger and Alexa's soccer team advances in the playoffs...!

It's been a heck of a week since we flooded. More going on than I care to mention here with the kids, legal dynamics, negotiations and meetings with contractors, but here's a brief summary:

Zack's timing is coming back at the plate as he went 2 for 4 two games ago, 1 for 3 yesterday and then today the old timing came back and he drove it over the fence against Fort Dodge for his first homer. Alexa's soccer team (Indianola) won the first round of the playoffs today against Winterset in a match that came down to OT with the Indians kicking a goal with 2:17 left to win in OT. Next up is probably Waukee on Monday night.

After many consultations, estimates, problem solving and visits by contractors where it seems nobody could really agree with each other and form a consensus in terms of a proper diagnosis and treatment plan, we are digging up our concrete floor on the interior along the perimeter of the walls to install a drainage system and 2 more sump pumps (which involves ripping out the bottom 24" of sheet rock, base boards, carpet, etc... . Something appears to be wrong with the tiling around the foundation as it is not running properly into the sump pump pit (according to one "expert"). So, the cost and type of repair is pretty invasive to our home and savings.

After the work is done, new 1/2 sheets of sheet rock will have to go in to replace what was torn out which will be taped and a mudder hired to blend it all together. Then new paint. It will be a dirty, nasty job - but it is 100% guaranteed and warrantied to never allow another drop of water into our basement. HA!!!! We'll see about that..

We are also getting new gutters and downspouts. Then, we will put in new carpet backing and the carpet will go back in. Our house will be pretty much upside down and a shambles from now and into July until it is all finished. No AC allowed due to the dust once construction starts. Final bill should top $20K and probably be more like $25K. Ouch, but it beats flooding every year or other year where costs are around $8K. Talk about buying a lemon of a house. The movie "The Money Pit" comes to mind.

On top of that, the new Kenmore washer has developed a problem, the fridge is on the brink with no ice maker working and the plumbing for the drainpipe of the washing machine sprung a major leak today. Plumber is coming tomorrow at 8 am to put in a new run of PVC pipe for that. Oy! Mix in a couple of major teenage bloopers in there that involved more than I care to divulge here, and the week has been utter hell.

I can't wait to see what happens tomorrow or the next day after that, after what we have been through this past week. I can't imagine things getting worse, but you never know...

5/27/11

On the bike again...and flooding in the basement!!!!

After 2 weeks in Italy where walking and jogging were my "routine" to stay in shape and not lose fitness, I've been back on the bike the past 2 weeks with one week to go in a build phase for the upcoming June races. I put in sort of a light week last week with only about 7 1/2 hours on the bike. This week was going to be more, but the basement flooded Wednesday morning because our brand new, hi-tech, top of the line sump-pump we had installed - just for safety's sake since the old one was 7 years old last summer - did not kick on as the float got stuck. Say what?

Yup. Alexa got up at 5 to use her bathroom in the basement and stepped in some water and came running up to get us. We couldn't believe it. Not again!!!! And State Farm pulled our basement coverage after the tornado last summer. Shit!!! The back up sump pump was indeed running, but they plumbers had installed the pipe so the water emptied out in the lawn right in the low spot which meant the water was just coming right back down the side of the foundation, into the tiles and into the sump pit again. The back up couldn't keep up. I stuck my hand in the pit and searched for debris blocking anything, looked for any kind of blockage and found nothing. A quick call to the plumber and he hopped in his truck and came out to our house. He went downstairs and wiggled the pipe which caused the main sump pump to kick on and emptied the pit immediately. Gee, the owner's manual didn't say anything about having to manually wiggle the pipes to get it to work.

The plumber had no answer for why it didn't kick on, but it was too late. The basement was flooded. Keep in mind, this new system was installed by this plumber last summer after we were being proactive to get a back-up and a system to cover us in case of power outage. We didn't have any power outage during the tornado, but it scared us into thinking we could - so hence the new system. We were "told" this would cover our backsides and was "guaranteed" to take care of us in the future. So we went ahead and reinstalled the carpet after last summer's tornado thinking we were covered in the flooding department. Now I know better. When you least expect it, expect it!!!

I called Steamatic who did our basement clean up after the tornado. Since this would be on our bill and not covered by insurance, they suggested ways we could lower the cost by providing the labor. So I got Zack up who immediately contacted 3 high school guys to come over and help haul stuff out of the basement and help rip up the carpet backing and haul it outside to the curb to help save the cost over what it would cost if Steamatic brought down a full crew to do that work. Steamatic came down with a crew of 2 from Des Moines with the blowers and dehumidifiers to do the dry the basement out routine. I rented a U-Haul trailer to haul the ruined stuff to the dump and Zack and his buddies loaded it up. Trailer and dump fees combined were only about $50, and we paid each of the boys for their 2 hours of labor. Still, a lot cheaper than if Steamatic had done the routine with their full crew. We will still have to pay the equipment rental fee which is not cheap at all, and the equipment has now been down there for 48 hours. I'll have to call today to make sure they pick it up as I don't want to pay for the entire Memorial Day Weekend. Or maybe even haul it up there myself.

A couple of pressure calls to the plumber, and they came out and removed the sump pump at their expense and installed there "go to model" which has a float with a cage protecting it so nothing can bump up against it. And they routed the back up pump spill to a different area that slopes downhill. I asked them that if it were there house, would they not have installed things differently and checked to make sure it was ideal? Their response basically was they can't solve everything and they should just get out of the business of installing sump pumps altogether. They were worried about eating the cost of the $200 new pump and labor. I told them big deal, I was going to have to eat the $4K - $8K cost of the damage to the rest of the basement (which they are not liable for due to the contract we signed). Everyone is trying to cover their ass when it comes to finished basements. The builder, the plumber, the insurance companies all cover their backsides - and the home owner is usually left holding the bag.

Hard to believe that good workmanship and taking pride in doing a job to the best of one's ability to please the customer has been removed from the average plumbing job these days. Not to mention, whoever ran the Bobcat in the backyard when they were building the house could easily have correctly done the backyard in a way so that the slope didn't lead to the house in such a manner that it does. Again, probably some young construction worker who was clueless about rain, drainage and certainly would not have organized the dirt in such a way if it was a house he was building for himself.

So screw it, now I'm taking it into my own hands and going to build a berm or moat around the low areas of my yard, re-route the southeast gutter, dig a pit and install an exterior 2nd main sump pump and goof proof this house so that even a 7 - 10" rain can be handled. I'll get everything up and off the floor in the store room. I hesitate to put carpet back into the basement, but might look into large carpet squares or exercise room squares to lay down. Or maybe another flooring option.

Well, it happened and after a few days we should be back to normal. For now, we'll just leave the carpet unstretched and without backing foam until we figure out if everything works well and what our longer term options should be with the exterior flooding plan and then if we get it completely stopped - we can decide to stick with carpet or go with an alternative.

Fun filled week, but I'm getting back on the bike today and tomorrow to try and make at least 8 hours for this week.

5/16/11

Home from Italy!!!

Got back late last night from sunny and warm Italy. I had a blast, ate some great food, did a lot of hiking and jogging, saw the sites, and am both exhausted as well as invigorated from the trip. Stayed in Sorrento, Roma, Orvieto, Viterbo, Assisi, Siena, and Firenze.

Lots of tiramisu, limoncello, ossa bucco, pesce, rucola, chianti, pinot grigio and of course gelato. I managed to lose weight on the trip due to all the walking and exercise. I could not eat enough calories to match how much I was burning each day.

Now back to Iowa life and finishing out the school year. No jet lag as I stayed awake for the 25 hour return trip home and went to bed last night at 11:30. Sweet.

Congrats to my son, Zack, on his excellent performances as Harold Hill in the Music Man before I left on the trip. And on his graduation from high school on Saturday (which I missed due to the trip). He was one of the 13 that graduated with a 4.0 out of his class. Way to go Zack!!! Party is next Sunday, so I've got plenty to get ready in the back yard and the house this week!!!