This week, I wondered if I’m doing the One Room Challenge or if I’m doing Survivor!
Remember last week when I used words from this song: “I can see clearly now, the rain has gone …”
Well how ironic.
This week, the rains came.
And the ORC got rained on at my house. But as you’ll see at the end, the game is not rained out here yet.
Blissful shopping Saturday
I spent Saturday afternoon running errands, getting painting supplies and decorations for the soon-to-be creative studio. It was so fun! You know how it is! You get ideas, you envision what they’ll look like in the room. It’s a blast!! While shopping, I was imagining the final reveal pictures. I chose a few things to add texture and pattern. I found containers to artfully arrange paint brushes. I was excited to make vignettes like this:
Yeah it was raining all day. But no big deal. I didn’t even carry an umbrella.
I was blissfully unaware of what was happening back at home, in the basement.
The week’s tasks were carefully planned:
And ta-da!!! Today I would have given you a tutorial showing how to make an old crusty, rustic faux brick wall. There are tutorials online, but mine was gonna be crustier and more rustic with heavy texture build-up.
You can guess now that this post isn’t about that tutorial.
CRANK UP The Horror Show
Remember I said in Week 1 that our basement floods periodically?
Before going to the basement to paint on Saturday evening, I feed the cats, make a pizza and drink cider. I’m listening to the patter of rain on the roof, enjoying the apple cider, and thinking simple thoughts: I love October. I love cider.
ALARMS GO OFF.
Oh @%$*&!!!! The water alarm in the basement!!!
I run down there.
There’s water all over the floor! Here’s when I first saw it:
Here’s the thing. I put only plastic containers on the floor. NEVER cardboard boxes. But I was painting these cardboard boxes and they were on the floor for a day. That’s it!! Only 1 day! What’s the chance of a flood the next day? It rains all the time and the basement hasn’t flooded in 2 years. Why now?
Thankfully the painter’s drop cloth protected the boxes and all the fabrics in them. Not a single box got a single drop of water, despite a river of water running underneath the drop cloths! Crazy.
So then I go see the other side of the basement — the ugly unfinished side with our boiler, furnace, laundry, sump pump.
And this is when things get crazier with the water. Water is coming from everywhere. It’s running over walls and dripping off pipes. I feel like this is a horror show:
Have you ever read Amityville Horror? There’s a scene in the middle of the night where blood runs down the walls. This made me think of that, only with water.
Before I continue, I do want to say, I’m sharing this to show the comedy of errors and tell a story about a crazy time. I am not complaining. To put this in perspective, though this flooding is a pain in the ass, we do still have a nice house. We haven’t been devastated by hurricane flooding or wildfires. No people or animals lost their lives or got injured. I actually feel lucky and spared. This could have been much worse.
Trying to Wrestle with Water
There’s a drain for rainwater at the bottom of an exterior staircase, just outside the basement door. I tried to clear it. I thought that leaves and paint chips (from our exterior paint scraping) were blocking it. But no. The drain was not draining at all!! You know how when a drain opens up, it makes a whirlpool. There was no whirlpool. Ohhhhh nooooo. Now I know that all the water pouring down will keep coming into the basement.
Here I’m trying to keep my wits together. Focus! Problem solve!
I run around outside in the dark and the rain and I can feel mascara running and burning my eyes while I attach tarps to the house, stretch them over the staircase railing, and secure them on the ground with bricks. I made a ceiling of tarps over the staircase. I figure if the rain doesn’t fall on the staircase, that will cut the flow of water into the basement. And yes, this worked to keep rain out of the staircase.
Clean Up – But It’s Only Temporary
Now that I stopped the water flow (or so I thought), next task is to clean up the mess.
I dragged our shop vac into the basement and filled it up with water. Woo hoo. We’re on our way to cleaning this up. I’ve had to clean basement floods many times before. Just suck the water up, drain it out, it’s all okay. I should note now, this is only me dealing with this situation, but I don’t live alone. Where’s the other person??? My husband is on the other side of the planet! He’s in India right now! I decide to not send any texts yet and bother him – he was probably heading to his office in Bengaluru and starting a work day.
The shop vac fills, and I go to empty it in a basement drain.
And then …
I drop the cap for the shop vac’s drainage hole! I drop the cap down the drainpipe!!! The shop vac is now useless. I can’t believe this!!!
I look at my phone. What time is it?
It’s 9:30 p.m.!!!
Run, Run, Run
I run upstairs, grab a jacket to cover a soaking wet t-shirt, grab my purse and sandals, and run for the car. I try not to trip and fall and break a bone because wouldn’t that just make a great night. My hair is soaking wet from running around outside, rainwater is dripping off my ponytail but I DON’T CARE. I have to get to Menards before they close at 10:00!!
Later I see that melted mascara was smeared all over my face. Which is why the nice employees at Menards were helpful but they were … cautious.
There are other people in the shop vac aisle. Other homes are getting flooded too.
I grab the shop vac that holds the MOST water and has the MOST POWERFUL motor and has continuous pumping. Awesome!! It’s also one of the more expensive ones. “Do I need to pay this much?” crosses my mind. But there’s no energy for feature analysis/cost comparison decisions right now.
My cats are bewildered. One of them wants to give me a back rub, so I rest for a few minutes and let her knead on my back, because it’s nice and she’s probably upset about all the chaos.
The next many hours were spent vacuuming water. By 2:30 a.m., there’s still a LOT of water in the basement.
But I can barely keep my eyes open, and surely our sump pump, septic system and drain field need a break too.
I decide to sleep for a few hours and fight the battle more on Sunday.
Sunday: From Splashy to Slippery to Splashy
On Sunday, several times I got the basement floor to “slippery” status and no longer “splashy” status. Then I’d take a break. I’d go back to the basement, and it would be “splashy” again.
The exterior drain outside the basement door was pushing water up and out of the drain. A steady stream of water was being pushed through the door, into the basement. All day Sunday, all day Monday, all day Tuesday, all day Wednesday, and on and on.
This is what my calendar looked like in reality:
This is not a problem that will go away quickly. I suspect a drainage pipe underground collapsed. Meanwhile, I found a cool sandless sandbag product at Home Depot that’s holding off most of the water:
I’m calling contractors to come look at the situation, but everyone is super busy because many houses flooded.
Wallpaper is coming off the walls, wood trim is saturated and wicking water up after marinating in water for many hours. Sheetrock is wrinkling and buckling. I can see mold under the wallpaper.
I make a long video, capturing all the visible damage.
Knocked Down …
I would love to bounce back and power through the next three weeks and turn this mess into a gorgeous room. I know these three posts have left an ugly impression of my house. I don’t want to leave that impression of my house. And I wanted to deliver on the DIY tutorials so you can see and do the cool ideas I had in mind.
But that would be the wrong thing to do.
I don’t believe in putting lipstick on a pig. I believe in doing things right.
It’s Tuesday as I write this and wait for a basement drainage contractor to show. Water is still running underneath the walls, like a skinny slithery river. It’s following the downward slope in the floor toward a drain. I know the water is doing its damage to the walls. I can already smell mold, my nose is stuffy and my lungs feel stuffy.
We need to do many things that won’t be done within three weeks, before the ORC ends:
- Talk with our insurer
- Mold remediation
- Identify the problem with the exterior drain and fix it
- Rip everything out of the basement (walls, framing, wood built-ins, etc.)
- Re-build the walls, etc.
… But Not Knocked Out?
I wrote a “dropping out” ending for today. But maybe not. I’m definitely dropping studio plans for the basement, until we fix the basement.
But I can’t keep painting and doing blog DIYs in the living room and dining room. We do have a guest room that isn’t used much. It’s smaller, about 10′ x 10′. The walls would need to be lightened. I can work with it. It would be a much smaller plan, a “really mini makeover,” because there’s only 3 weeks to do it. I might do it. I’m still uncertain because I still must remove 100% of everything out of our basement, so basement waterproofing experts can identify what’s happening. AND the exterior painting of our house isn’t 100% finished yet — I’m still finishing that too.
Come back next week to find out!
Many other rooms are being renovated and decorated during the One Room Challenge. Some of the 20 featured designers are creating textured, neutral spaces like I was planning to do, and I can’t wait to see what they do! The nearly 200 guest participants share many useful ideas, renovation tips and innovative designs. Check them out!
Yeah, cheesy free clip art! This was a rare moment of kitschy fun this week.