Do you know where your water main box is located? If not, you just might want to locate it before Murphy is in the neighborhood.
I want to relate an incident that happened to my wife and me several months ago. As a former Boy Scout and prepper, I have always tried to adhere to the Boy Scout’s motto: “Be Prepared”. But, as I discovered, it is easy to say you are prepared, but quite another to actually be prepared.
We have our beans, Band-Aids, and bullets. We try to go by the rule of one is none, two is one, and three is better. In other words have a plan B and C. We have tried to prepare our home for emergencies that may arise, have the necessary tools on hand to fix minor repairs, the list could go on, but I think you get the idea. I’m sure most of you who are reading this article have made similar preparations, and may be thinking: so what’s the big deal. At this point, I need to mention another rule that all preppers’ need to be aware of, but often forget. It’s called “Murphy’s Law–Anything that can go wrong will go wrong”.
Have you ever noticed that plumbing leaks always happen at night? Or on the week-end? When the hardware store has closed, and you can’t find, or don’t have the right tool? Or maybe all of the above?!
Now I realize that it is almost impossible for most of us to be totally prepared for everything, but in my case, I thought I had all the bases covered. Let me give the reader a little history. We live in an old house, built in the early 50’s, and we live in the country. A trip to the store of any kind is a minimum of 30-45 minutes, one way.
When we first moved here we added a new bedroom and bath, and did a lot of renovations and repairs. At that time I installed new stainless steel supply lines to all the sinks in the bathrooms, and to the washing machine; all with cut-off valves. I also had spare supply lines in my plumbing supplies, and all the tools I thought I would need. Can you guess which one I forgot to replace? Yep! You guessed it, the water heater.
I am not the handy man that I would like to be, but plumbing has always been one of the things that I have been able to do most of the time, so when my wife said one evening about 9:00 p.m., “Where is all this water coming from in our bathroom?” My first thought was I’ll just cut the water off under the sink with the cut-off valves I had installed, and finish fixing the problem in the morning.
Here is where “Murphy’s Law” kicked in. When I walked into the bathroom, she was standing in water, it was spreading fast, and to my surprise, the leak was not coming from under the sink as I had thought, but was coming from a closet where the water heater was located.
I opened the closet door, and was immediately sprayed with warm water bouncing off everything in the closet. The leak was coming from the supply line that connected the water heater to the house plumbing system. To my dismay, no cut-off valve, not a problem, I would go out to the garage, get my water key, and go to the water meter box located in the front yard and cut the water off to the house.
By this time she was pleading “Please hurry; I’m running out of dry towels.” I ran out to the garage and looked at where the water key was supposed to be hanging; you guessed right again, no water key. I had forgotten that I had loaned my water key to my brother-in-law for a plumbing problem he had. Not to worry, I ran next door to my wife’s parents and asked to borrow their water key. Fortunately, they were still up, and to my surprise they knew exactly where it was. By the time I got back to the house and turned off the water, she had run out of towels and all she could think to say was: “What took you so long?”
After we cleaned up all the mess, we took stock of everything. There was no real water damage, we both thanked God for that. We could just picture what would have happened if we had gone to bed and found the leak the next morning. We did have drinking water stored, so we could have coffee the next morning, and I could go to the hardware store to get the necessary supplies. This time I would replace both the inlet and outlet lines with new stainless steel supply lines with cutoff valves.
The next morning, after finally getting everything replaced and checked for leaks, we were back in the hot water business. I would like to say it was an easy repair, and things went like clock- work; but remember Murphy’s Law? The big issue was the one pipe wrench I thought I had in my tool box, wasn’t there. I had to get a new one.
Some lessons learned, and some advice for all preppers.
- Check all water supply lines in your house. If they are suspect, replace them with stainless flexible lines.
- Have cut-off valves installed on all supply lines.
- Get a water key; know where it is at all times.
- Inventory your tools to make sure you have what you will need.
- You don’t have to have a water key to turn off the water at your water main, but they are cheap, and it is so much easier than using a wrench or vise grips, especially when it is raining, which I forgot to mention, and the water main box is full of water, which it was, and it was night time.