20090920

Surprise!

Sometime during the wee hours this morning, a sudden, muffled pop emitted from somewhere outside. My housemate's dog erupted into a barrage of barking and thunderous foot thumping, as she jumped off my bed where she'd been sound asleep a moment before, and raced through the house. I probably should have gotten up to investigate, but I figured if it were any type of animal intrusion (including human), she would have already scared it off. Anything else could wait until morning.
Sometime around 9:30, I rolled out of bed, shuffled through the house, picked up pet bowls, dumped them into the sink, and opened the tap to refill them. A thin line of clear liquid trickled out. I opened the tap more, but got nothing resembling more flow. The bowls filled painfully slowly. After I shut the tap, I heard the sound of water running through pipes somewhere. "Drip system must be on and sprung a leak."

I finished watering and feeding the housemate's and my fuzzy quadripeds, and shuffled out the front door to check the drip system. Two men walking by started waving and saying something in Spanish. I hadn't had coffee yet, so I could only look stupidly. My foot was suddenly cold and I realized they were trying to tell me my yard was flooded. Water was cascading down the planter box.
I turned off the drip system, but the river that was my planter continued to flow. I ran back into the house, tracking in mud, water, pine needles, filled both Brita (water filter) dispensers, threw on shorts and a shirt, grabbed the shutoff key to the water line, and ran back outside to shut down the water feed to my house.

The leak was somewhere behind a yew tree and next to a Meyer lemon bush next to the porch, the most difficult place to reach! The distance between the house (right) and yew (left) is about .75m. Out of the photo, about a meter beyond the lemon is another lemon. To get to the leak, I had to prune back the yew branches, then squeeze myself and my tools between the yew and lemons.

The water had been pooled between lemon and yew, so I began digging there, but when I turned the feed back on to retest, water was coming from the corner formed by the foundation and the porch. Even worse! My housemate is a welder, and is pretty sure he can fix it (he's in Sacramento with his girlfriend for the weekend), but I was seriously contemplating calling a plumber. Then I remembered I'd have to dump a few investments to pay a plumber and they charge extra for Sunday calls! I continued digging. I began a trench next to the porch (the red brick), but it was too narrow, and too cramped, and it could only be about a hand wide without interfering with the lemon's roots. The lemon had to go.

Seven hours later, I had:
1. Made it through the day on a double espresso, an iced coffee, an almond-rum croissant, some almonds and crackers with peanut butter, and a lot of water. I carefully avoided anything with too much fiber or lactose, so I wouldn't have to flush the toilet.
2. Dug up and re-potted the lemon. Sort of. I threw some soil around the roots, but not enough to cover them all, and I had no water for it. I'll probably lose it.
3. Tried to look in the crawlspace under the house to see if water had gotten there and if the pipe might be accessible from there, but the crawlspace entrance is on the opposite side of the house, and spider webs covered the portal. I decided to wait until my housemate gets home to do that.

4. Widened my trench, and dug about a meter down without seeing or feeling anything resembling a pipe.

I gave up for the day and headed to my father's house for a shower and to steal several containers of water from him. Well, I know what I'm doing tomorrow...