Friday, December 01, 2006

Vacation and a Near Death Experience

It's been a while since my last post. Apologies go out to my loyal reader. It's just that I've been really busy over the past 2 weeks taking forced vacation. No, I didn't get fired. My employer gives me a lot of vacation time every year and I'm required to take it by the end of the year or lose it. So I take it.

I had planned to spend this vacation around the house doing a ton of the little projects that I've ignored for the past 2 or 3 years. It was a good plan, too. It just didn't work out as I had planned.

My first project was to deal with some water that was seeping into my basement. My house doesn't have a full basement. It is more like a dug out crawlspace. The water and moisture down there recently took out part of a dugout wall and a foundation pier. One pier is not cause for major concern, but I sure don't want it going any further. So on Sunday and Monday, I installed a sump, sump pump and a dehumidifier. I had also scheduled to have my house treated for termites on Tuesday.

Tuesday brought torrential rains to Charlotte, so the termite guy couldn't prep the outside of the house and decided to do what he could underneath the house. I continued with some indoor projects. When I went to check on him, I found about a foot of water overflowing my sump. I kicked on the pump and looked around for the source of the water. It was coming in from 3 sides of the house and collecting in my sump at the rate of about a gallon every 5 minutes. Suddenly I know what the next project is, stop this damn water.

I take note of where water is standing near the house and dig a few temporary trenches (digging in the rain sucks) to relieve the pressure, then go back to my indoor projects.

The rain and Thanksgiving take up the next two days, but I make my plans and wait. Friday is spent prepping around my house. On Saturday morning I hit the Home Depot for a trencher and 200' of corrugated pipe. I'm going to give this rain somewhere to go.

I take careful note of where the gas line runs from the street to my meter and start digging. The trench on the left side of my house goes great. I get about 80% done on the right side of the house when it happens.

I will never forget the pop and rush of air I heard when I HIT THE GAS LINE. I remember looking down to see a 2 or 3 inch hole where the gas was erupting from the ground, my hands still on a running, combusting trencher. I'm lucky to not be dead already. I know right away I have a new entry in the top 5 dumbest things I've ever done. I pushed the trencher forward and myself backward in a lurch and head inside to get my wife out of the way and on the phone to 911. I head to the neighbor's house to alert them as well. I get some tools in hopes of shutting off the valve to stop the leak and get a neighbor to stop traffic. The trencher eventually stopped from lack of oxygen, I think.

I had no idea what would happen if the gas caught with me at the valve about 20 feet away, but I had to give it a go. I get my wrench on the valve and twist. It doesn't budge. I tell myself to stay calm and deliberate and try again. Again, nothing. Within two minutes, the fire department arrives (the station is only 3 blocks away) and I stay out of the way. They also try the valve without success. One of the guys eventually crimps the line and stops the emergency.

The gas company came and fixed the line. What I hit was a T off my line that feeds my neighbors house. Ooops. The bills are going to run about $150 for service and repairs. I am glad to pay so little for a valuable lesson. I eventually got the pipe laid and I'm waiting for the rain to see if I've done any good.

My wife likes to tease me about stuff like this. I guess I'll never live it down for a long time, I hope.

The vacation is now over. Many ToDos got done. A business trip to LA is next week with a weekend in Vegas tacked onto the end should be fun, if not deserved.

See ya around.


Anonymous said...

Bugs bunny would refer to you, in this experience, as a maroon. I prefer lucky. Its a good thing that you don't smoke like dad, if you were more like him you could have capped the line with the 1/2 empty beer balanced on the trencher. Have fun in Vegas - we'll be skiing / boarding at Keystone.


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