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Flood - RonO's Ramblings — LiveJournal

Oct. 15th, 2009 07:31 am Flood

As people who also follow me on Facebook (or who see this when it automatically posts to Facebook) already know, yesterday our water heater suffered a catastrophic failure and was hemorrhaging all over the garage.

About 2:30, Tara (robot_grrl) called and let me know of the problem. She was a bit worked up about it, and had me thinking that everything we had stored out there -- a LOT of stuff is in the garage since this house is smaller than the one in Bartlett and we didn't expect to be living here for even this long when we moved in -- was a loss.

I was able to give her advice of limited use (she couldn't turn the shut off off because of where it was located) and called the rental agency (probably the only advantage of renting is that we didn't have to figure this out entirely ourselves) to deal with the emergency.

Unfortunately, the northbound trains were at 2:42 (which by coincidence was when I got around to looking at the schedule to see when it was) and at 4:05. So I waited around until I could head over to the other building and catch the shuttle for the 4:04 train.

When I got home, the plumber had been there, and could do little more than shut off the water. Tara and Derrick -- the latter being less help than he should have been -- had gotten most of the boxes, which were mostly books and CDs, out of the water.

After I got some replacement banker boxes (most of what we had were in banker boxes -- consistent size and strong enough to hold books), I spent a couple of hours repacking books and determining which were losses.

In addition to the books, my desk (not a great one, a 10-year-old press-board Office Max product) and some shelves are a loss. We also have some pictures that were in boxes that got wet, and have yet to assess them (or even get some of them into the house for assessment).

Today, in addition to working from home and waiting for the replacement heater, I need to go through the books that we've determine aren't salvageable, get their ISBN information (or other unique identification) so that we can file an insurance claim against our renter's policy.

Since the water heater was less than 3 years old (installed in December 2006, according to the date written on it), we are pretty sure that both us and the landlord have a claim against the manufacturer. But I think I'll let AAA deal with that fight rather than us. I just hope that AAA can go directly to the manufacturer and doesn't have to first go after the landlord and have them add our claim to theirs. But that is legal and insurance stuff and I have no idea how that works.

If anyone knows of a good website for getting value estimates on books, many of which are old and out of print (including quite a few 20-25 year old text books), I wouldn't mind the reference.


For what it is worth, neither Tara or I had thought too much about storing this stuff in the garage. First, as I said, we hadn't expected to be living here this long, but the house took longer to sell and didn't sell for as much as we first expected, so those plans changed.

But, at least I had no personal experience with this kind of catastrophic water heater failure (the top seam seems to have given out), and tend to think of flooding like this as something that happens in basements after heavy rains or snow melt. I guess this is another case of "live and learn"

3 comments - Leave a commentPrevious Entry Share Next Entry


Date:October 15th, 2009 04:26 pm (UTC)
When evaluating the books, consider if they're even *worth* putting in the time on finding a value for, filling out paperwork, etc., or if the flood just did you a favor in forcing you to re-consider their value. And I say this not as one of those people who say "pitch it if you haven't used/looked at it in a year", but as a packrat who's been through a basement flood (fortunately, most of our boxes were safe, see below) and has had to do the sort-and-pitch.

For future storage, short 2x4s up on edge, with two or three other 2x4s laid across them to support boxes and whatnot, like so:
| | | (front view)

That'll get stuff up out of a lot of small leaks, under garage door seepage, etc.
Date:October 15th, 2009 04:43 pm (UTC)
Since this should be an insurance claim, I'd like to be able to report the real value of the loss -- even if we don't bother actually replacing them. If this was an old water heater, or we owned the house, I might not be as worried about getting an estimate on many of them.

Of course Tara's ideas may differ -- I think she's pretty mad and wants value from someone.
Date:October 15th, 2009 06:37 pm (UTC)
When you put the stuff back in the garage consider getting some pallets to put the boxes and whatever on. We have found that pallets are just high enough keep things out of most accidental plumbing and minor rain floods - we have had experience with both.

When the water gets to be 2 feet deep not too much will help except moving everything upstairs - something I also have experience with :)