Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Without water June 7, 2021

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 2:33 PM
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Our house, where digging begins tomorrow. Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo July 2020.

WE LIVE IN AN OLD HOUSE. Eighty-one years old, according to a real estate listing from 1984, the year we bought our Faribault home. I don’t think that date is accurate. I expect this house was built in the 1920s. Whatever, it doesn’t matter.

What matters now is that we are facing a monumental expense after the city water line from the street into our basement began leaking. We awoke Monday morning to water running across our basement laundry room floor. Not good.

We could have replaced the pipe some 30 years ago when the street past our house was completely redone. But, like most homeowners, the additional street assessment was enough of an expenditure. So we opted not to update the water line.

Now here we are, with a rotten old pipe, temporarily without water and facing an estimated bill of $5,000-plus. I am thankful for money in savings.

Still, it’s an expense we’d rather not have as we continue to pay $1,868/month for health insurance and cost of living expenses continue to rise with no wage increase to compensate. Sigh. And my dreams of updating our 1960s vintage kitchen seem even more distant now.

I’m trying to maintain a positive attitude. This could have happened when we were out of town. This could have happened in winter, making the entire process more difficult. And this is fixable.

Mike, whom I’ve know since he was a child, is leading the project. I feel good about that with someone I trust in charge. Excavation begins Tuesday morning. Mike assures water service by the end of the day. In the meantime, the next door neighbor has kindly agreed to let us run a garden hose from his house to ours.

I’m also grateful for Al, service manager of Faribo Plumbing & Heating, who showed up mid-morning Monday to assess the situation. “This doesn’t look good,” he said. I may have sworn and appeared on the verge of crying because he apologized for delivering such bad news. I assured Al he was not to blame. Stuff happens when you own a house, right? But he understood my distress and was exceptionally kind and understanding in a way that speaks great customer service.

To live in a community where neighbors help neighbors, whether personally or professionally, is truly a gift.

© Copyright 2021 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


26 Responses to “Without water”

  1. Oh, Audrey! I’m so sorry! I know how stressful something like that can be. Sending big hugs your way! ❤ ❤

  2. Gunny Says:

    Sorry to hear of your situation. I fully understand and in this day, things are not cheap! When the first snowflake fell in Texas this past winter, power company dropped us from the power grid in the wee hours of the morning – enough to shut off my drop light keeping my above ground water lines from freezing. The pipes not only froze but burst as well but the ice kept us from leaking water. We did get back on the grid and kept the house warm. Fortunately, I had a backup of bottled water, plus a 7 gallon water jug that a neighbor filled for me. To flush we used snow melt using about every available bucket and plastic tub we had in the house. After days of being without water and finding a way to jury-rig some fresh water into the place, the city cut water owing to all the open water lines. Took us about 10 days to get water restored and we are left with what amounts to $1500 to $4500 worth of repairs that we now face (but the water line has been fixed so we do have water).. The water is as hard as bricks, but still able to use all the water consumers in the house.

  3. Gunny Says:

    Oh – and I am checking power back up if I ever need it. Found a neighbor who has 600 plus gallons of fresh “backup” water in case we need some in the future.

  4. Chuck Hess Says:

    I just read your posting and I have an idea that might take care of your problem and take care of your present and your future problem with your house. Just simply open a Gofundme.com and use the story about your problems. I know how financial problems can get in the way of life and I think that this should take care of your problems. Ask for $10,000 and this should cover most of your problems.

    Go on gofundme.com and you will see how this web site got funds for people that were in dire straits. And I will be the first to put $100.00 in the fund.

    I grew up not far from you in Redwood Falls and my wife was from Hanley Falls and I met her in Marshall.

    If you don’t want to do this then I’ll wish you the best.

    By the way, several ladies here that couldn’t pay their rent raised thousands

    Chuck Hess

    • Chuck, thank you kindly for your concern. We have money in savings to cover unexpected expenses like this. Gofundme is certainly an important funding source for many, but I wouldn’t feel right asking for money to help pay this bill. I appreciate your offer of generosity, though. If you, or any other readers, ever want to support my blogging, I will accept donations (although I don’t have anything set up to accept donations). I blog for the love of writing and photography and occasionally earn income via photo sales.

      Thanks for sharing that you are a Redwood County resident married to a woman from sw Minnesota. I always enjoy connecting from folks “back home.”

      Just a note that I edited out your phone number so as not to make it “public” on my blog. Thank you for sharing it in case I wanted to contact you.

      • Chuck Hess Says:

        I am glad everything worked out for you.

      • We are happy to have our water service restored. We have yet to get the bill, so maybe I will feel differently once that arrives. Now we have a yard to restore given most of our side yard, part of our front yard and sections of the boulevard were “destroyed” during excavation. However, this is the worst time to seed or to lay sod due to the heat and lack of rainfall. Our yard is basically a hard-packed dirt parking lot. It will need to stay that way for awhile. If we go the sod option, we estimate that to cost us $700-$800. Sigh.

  5. Thank goodness help is on the way and the kindness of neighbors too. We have strung electrical, cable, water to our neighbors and they have done the same for us. The amount of help you need just moving stuff in and out and around a house too. We have a 1980’s house and we knew we have to re-electric and received a credit for that. We did not think we would have to re-plumb the whole house after a few years into living in it. However, stuff only lasts so long and the hardest part is paying for something you cannot really see, but boy is it something you need to live though. Good Luck & Take Care 🙂

  6. Larry Gavin Says:

    So sorry to hear about your troubles! I’m sure the replacement line install will go smoothly and you’ll be taking showers and making coffee in no time.

    • Thank you, Larry. Actually, we were only without water for about eight hours yesterday. When Randy arrived home early from work, he connected hoses to our neighbor’s faucet for a temporary water supply. We were grateful for that. So, yes, we could shower. And, yes, I had my cup of coffee this morning. As I type, the crew from Faribo Plumbing & Heating is hard at work. Sidewalk removed, hole dug and work is progressing.

  7. 🙏 for a quick resolution to this situation. Never nice to have unexpected housing expenses.

  8. jhc1218 Says:

    What a rude awakening on a Monday morning. It sounds like work is already underway to repair the line. The joys of homeowership! We are so grateful for neighbors after our A/C went out on Saturday. Jason was able to identify the issue and our neighbor had the replacement part and helped switch it out. We had sweet cool relief after one hot sticky night.

    • Ah, yes, this heat wave would not be a good time for the AC to go out. I’m thankful Jason was able to easily repair this with the help of your wonderful neighbor. And, yes, work is progressing on the water line replacement. The yard is all torn up, hold drilled in the basement wall and pipe likely going in soon. I haven’t checked recently. I try to keep out of the way of workers.

  9. Sorry to hear this Audrey! I think that “under the street water pipe” is always in the back of a homeowners head. I”m glad you have neighbors and people who you can depend on. I’m glad the fix is not long and drawn out

  10. Sandra Says:

    I hope all your beautiful flower bushes (hydrangeas?) survived. Willow St was settled early on, would agree the land records need an edit. I hope Faribault has replaced water lines, but maybe not. Stuff does happen, says the person in a 50 yr old property before utilities installed and while Maplewood was still a village and building codes were/weren’t. Whoever said knowledge workers only wear suits in offices never saw sweaty people running big machines like backhoes like riding a bike. They’re amazing. I have several in my front yard removing/reinstalling concrete with big jackhammer. They earn every penny. Didn’t even have rebar, no wonder it didn’t withstand the snow plows, also cracked from the bottom. My furnace/ac broke before the heat, thanking God for small favors, this is brutal, wonder what July will bring! Loved the flea market blogs too!

    • I agree about those knowledgeable blue collar workers. They work hard; two guys put in nearly 12 hours at our house on Monday. Across the street, roofers roofed and tree cutters cut. All in this unbelievable heat and humidity.

      I’m sorry about your driveway and furnace/ac issues. Randy has been without ac for three weeks as they await a part at his workplace. He is a hands-on automotive machinist (which is different than a mechanic), highly-skilled and in high demand.

  11. I am behind (Obviously) and just read this. I am so sorry. It is one of the “joys” of home ownership for sure. While we have not had anything major at this house yet I am sure the day will come. Things get outdated and tired just like me. :-). Hope by now you are up and running and that your water issues are a memory. Is there ever a good time for things like this to happen? No. Never. Hang in there.

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