(an ancient mariner)
Last week, while we were skiing, we got a call from the local fire department. They let us know that our sprinkler pipe had burst and was flooding our yard and pouring out into the street. So the fire department broke in and shut off our water, and turned off the gas to our hot water heater. Apparently the water was just starting to seep into our basement. That's not that nice of a call to receive while on vacation.
When we returned home Friday night after dropping the kids at their dad's for the weekend, we found that the basement was on the verge of flooding and that the water was, in fact, shut off. We couldn't just turn it back on, because then the ruptured pvc pipe (which went to the sprinklers we didn't use last summer) would pour water back into our yard, and our basement would definitely flood. We have these two holes in the basement that fill with water when the groundwater level is high. They are probably sump-pump holes, but because our house's previous owners did not seem to do anything correctly, there is no sump-pump installed. Anyway, one of these holes was about to overflow, and the other one was overflowing and the water was slowly seeping toward the carpet we had to replace when the basement flooded last spring. We sighed, rolled up our sleeves, and began frantically bailing out the gross holes. They instantly re-filled with water. So we did what any lesbians in this situation would do. We went to Home Depot.
We bought ourselves a 1/4 horsepower sump pump (the smallest model, thankyouverymuch) and put it in one of the holes. We ran a black plastic hose to our laundry room utility sink (actually two hoses, because it was kind of far. Of course the guy at Home Depot did not sell us the right equipment to prevent the joint from leaking, so we put the joint in an empty cat litter bucket). Then, we stood there drinking beer and watching the hole drain. It was remarkably satisfying. We stood there for 2 beers, just staring at the hole and occasionally dumping the water out of the cat litter bucket. Since our water had been turned off, we eventually shut off the sump pump -- we figured it wasn't the kind of thing we wanted to leave while we were out of the house, since there was that leaky joint in the hose -- and went to the bar. I mean really, we couldn't do the dishes, so we had to get food somewhere!
In the morning, we went outside and found the ruptured pipe. It was still dripping water, probably because there was still water in the line. We then went back into our utility room and found a lever that said "Sprinkler Shut Off." Unsurprisingly, when we moved that lever, the water stopped dripping out. We then kicked our water back on, and I re-lit the water heater (I was very proud of doing this without blowing up the house, since anything involving gas makes me nervous).
I make it sound like it was all very simple, but there was a fair amount of trial-and-error involved in this. Also some running around and a few swear words. While we were working on all these fun little projects, Kathy and I discussed how nice it was to be capable of doing these kinds of things around the house. Lots of women can't, or don't. But here is the thing, none of it was HARD. We just believed that we could do it, and dove in. It's all confidence. I would not recommend taking this approach to things like re-wiring your house, but for broken crap and small projects, really ladies. Just dive in and do it. It's not so hard. It's 90% common sense. Do you have a lever that says "Sprinkler Shut Off" in your basement? Odds are, that will shut off the water to the sprinklers. It goes a long way to making you feel confident in life to be able to fix broken stuff in your own house.
Just like I feel strongly that men can, in fact, operate washing machines and ovens, I also feel strongly that women can shut off the water, fix their broken-down car (which I did last spring), light the hot water heater, and fix their broken garage door (which Kathy did a few weeks ago). We just don't.
Note: I'm at work right now, writing this. But when I get home, I will update with pictures of our little "project." So check back!