Sunday, 13 July 2014

Path of Least Resistance

It should have been a fun weekend.  Instead I found myself not quite awake at 4 AM on Sunday as my brother knocked on the door to announce his arrival and that I had to pack up.

But let me start at the beginning.

My brother and I received phone calls Saturday afternoon from my father's neighbour, and the situation was urgent.  The alarm system in Dad's house had been triggered in the wee hours of the morning.  There was nobody there; Dad and his lady friend were off on a holiday, so when the alarm went off the neighbour went over to check on things.  However there had been no break-in.  The alarm had sounded due to a motion sensor being activated by the collapse of the kitchen ceiling, as a result of a water leak.  There was water everywhere.  The neighbour had the presence of mind to shut off the water to the house, and since my father was unreachable, contacted us later in the day.

So my brother and his 23 year old son drove overnight from New Brunswick to pick me up in Montreal at 4 AM and then headed to Dad's house in Ontario.  We arrived there at 6 AM and were met by the neighbour with the keys to the house.  I fervently hoped that it wasn't as bad as the neighbour had made it out to be.

It was worse.

A huge section of the gyprock ceiling above the eating area was down, and there was impact and water damage to the kitchen table and other furniture in the vicinity.  Water had spread across the floor and caused the baseboards at one end of the room to separate from the wall, and then it seeped through the floor and soaked into the suspended tile ceiling of the finished basement below.  When the tile became saturated the water dripped down onto an area rug, damaging that and the hardwood floor underneath.

We did some investigation and discovered that the water had originated from the upstairs shared bathroom.  It quickly became clear that there had been a leak for some time, because the plywood under the bathroom floor was wet, as was some of the carpeting in the adjacent bedroom.  The cause?  The seal between the water supply pipe and the toilet tank had failed.  A small leak had developed, and water dripped down the piping, through the floor, and was absorbed into the gyprock until it couldn't hold any more.  Nobody noticed what was happening because that bathroom was very rarely used unless guests were in the house, and Dad typically used the master ensuite.

We all heaved a big sigh of relief that nobody had been there at the time, and that the damage had not affected any of the precious family heirlooms that were in the house.

Then came the hard part: dealing with the mess.  Since Dad would be incommunicado for another week, my brother and I invoked our legal authority to act on his behalf.  Despite it being a Sunday, we were lucky: reaching the insurance company, getting an adjuster to come to the house, taking lots of pictures, getting a contractor to assess the damage, and giving permission to initiate the cleanup and drying out.  Repair will come later.

Unfortunately we couldn't stay for the entire process, as we all had work and family commitments.  So after coordinating things with the neighbour and making arrangements for the appropriate people to access the house as required, we drove back.  I was dropped off at 6:30 PM, just in time for dinner, and my brother and nephew continued on their way back to New Brunswick.  I sincerely hope they have a safe drive, because both of them have only slept about three hours in the last 24.  I myself probably only slept five hours on Saturday night.

But you have to do what you have to do.  We want to make things as smooth as possible before Dad gets home from his holiday and finds his house a wreck.


  1. Replies
    1. We've got the wheels in motion for the insurance and the cleanup. Dad has difficulty with handling multiple things at once so we felt we needed to step up. Things are mostly under control now.