Yesterday began like any other Monday. Except that by dinnertime the ceiling had collapsed and our home was flooded.
On Thursday, I had noticed water bubbling up through the seams of the wood flooring in the closet as I walked from one shelf to another, feeling the floorboards squish beneath my toes. My inner-child was highly amused the new sensation, while my bill-paying adult self was horrified by the thought of structural damage. We informed our HOA. “Our responsibility,” they said, “we’ll handle it.”
The plumber came over on Friday morning. He checked the floor and walls before declaring, “I’ve never seen anything like it, folks. It is definitely a slab leak, but the most minor one I’ve ever seen.” Turn off your water, call a specialized plumber to handle the simple repair, and go on with your lives.
Saturday held steady, slowly sending aqueous sap up through the cracks in the floor. The plumber had told us not to worry, so we didn’t.
On Sunday, the bubbling floor boards began seeping more heavily. The white towels I threw down to soak up the water slowly transformed into white towels with ombréd brown stripes. I happened to look up and notice a small crack in the wall where the entryway meets the rest of the closet. “Strange,” I mused, before going on with my day.
On Monday, the specialized plumber took a look. “Definitely not a slab leak,” he informed us. “It’s coming from the ceiling, and there’s likely a lot of mold and mildew based on all this moisture.” He worked in the bedroom and the living room for for a short while, and then let us know that he had fixed the problem. The piping was repaired, so now we just had to check for mold and replace the damaged flooring. The HOA president looked down at the invoice, and nodded in satisfaction.
When I arrived home from work on Monday, I slipped slightly as I entered the house. I glanced down to see an unusual sheen on the floor–an eighth of an inch of water covered the entire living room and dining room. I called my boyfriend and nonchalantly asked, “Uhh, dear, did the plumber flood our house this morning?” He seemed unfazed, probably assuming I was exaggerating, and said he would be home in five minutes.
I looked up to see huge blisters bulging from the ceiling, releasing drop after drop onto our sofa, coffee table, and bookshelf. Drip, drip, drip onto the sorted piles of clothing for donation. Drip, drip, drip right into the box of tissues. I turned on the light and watched as the fan sent water flying across the room, droplets dancing on the wet surface of slowly-warping wood. I began sopping up the water with every towel in the house as I listened to the light percussion, and then the roaring deluge of musty brown water falling from the ceiling just as my boyfriend opened the door.
He stood like a deer in headlights for 30 seconds before leaping into action. He asked about the rest of the house. I hadn’t even made it that far, so I gingerly took off to the bedroom as he turned off the water and collected members of the HOA.
The small crack in the master closet had exponentially expanded in size and developed an few paint blisters along the way, which were slowly soaking our clothes. I quickly prioritized cleaning out the closet, packing clothes into trash bags in an effort to save them from the impending downpour of rust-tinted water. I heard a chorus of “Oh my…” and “Oh shit!” as I stuffed our clothing into the guest bedroom closet. Where I felt a drip on my head.
Water was dripping from the sprinkler head. On closer examination, water was dripping from every sprinkler head in the house. There was almost certainly a pool of water sitting just above our ceiling, waiting for gravity to do its job.
As I worked vigilantly to box up our most valuable items, my boyfriend ran in and shouted, “We need to leave, now!” I snapped the plastic totes shut, grabbed a backpack full of clothing, and ran out to the living room. Upon moving the couch to protect it from further damage, he had noticed the bottoms of the walls becoming bloated, slowly relieving themselves of the same filthy liquid.
Neighbors stood outside of our front door, peeking in their astonished little heads as the murky liquid swayed and spread. I hugged my boyfriend and sighed audibly as the ceiling and walls swelled dramatically around us. He leaned down to kiss my forehead and chuckled, “Well, we wanted to move anyways, right? Maybe this is our sign.” I laughed a small laugh and replied, “Yeah, I guess this is it.”