Lindsey Buys a Fixer-Upper: Part 3, Water Everywhere!

Lindsey Buys a Fixer-Upper: Part 3, Water Everywhere!

By Lindsey Wolf Lunney
Last May, my husband and I unintentionally bought a major fixer-upper. In earlier posts, I talked about some of the problems we uncovered during our routine and not-so-routine inspections of the home. I hope my story will make the process easier for others who are thinking of taking on a big project like this one.

Goodbye Swamp Cooler, Hello A/C

We bought our home knowing the previous home owners did not have A/C and used a swamp cooler instead. The swamp cooler was full of mold and had not been cleaned or maintained in years. As you may know, swamp coolers operate with a water line and electrical power. Our plan was to install A/C, so I called the roofing company and asked them to remove the swamp cooler. The day the roofers were at the house, Cooper Heating and Cooling was also there installing the new A/C. Because the house has a boiler, rather than a furnace, we went with a ductless A/C system. Lucky for us, there were electricians at the house that day, since the roofing company stuck live electrical wires back in the attic before patching up the roof.

Water, Water, Everywhere

At the same time, the sewer company was replacing the sewer line, and had the water main shut off. Someone with the roofing company asked me to turn the water back on briefly. When I did, the swamp cooler water pipe started spewing water, so I turned it off again. The roofers said they would cap the pipe, put it back in the roof and that “should prevent any problem.” At this point, I realized it was time to call a plumber. When he arrived, I asked him to remove the pipe that had been connected to the swamp cooler. I took him to the basement where the roofing contractor had bent the pipe, thinking that bending it would prevent water from escaping. I asked the plumber to go up into the attic once he had removed the swamp cooler pipe to make sure he got the right one. Then, I went off to observe the sewer replacement.

Mistakes Were Made

As the plumber was leaving, he assured me he took care of the issue and turned the water on. About ten minutes later, one of the A/C contractors noticed a strange noise coming from upstairs. We went up there and sure enough, I could hear the sound of running water. I raced downstairs and turned the water off again. Then I called the plumber and the roofer to come back. It turned out the plumber had cut the pipe to the refrigerator line, not the swamp cooler line. Eventually we realized that the swamp cooler line was attached to a water source in the master bathroom, not in the basement.

Restoration Genius

Then I called Jeff Martin with Restoration Genius. Jeff was supposed to start with the mold mitigation two days later. He was at my house within ten minutes. He climbed up into the attic and saw that the insulation was completely soaked. Because the house was built in 1966, we needed to test the insulation for asbestos before he could suck it out. Thankfully, it tested negative. Jeff rearranged his schedule so he could be at my house at 7:00 AM the following day to remove the insulation. Unfortunately, by the time we got to the house, the ceiling had fallen down due to the weight of the wet insulation. Jeff removed it and treated the area with mold prevention substances. I filed an insurance claim and, thank goodness, it was covered. It was a bummer, but as we had not done any of the cosmetic items yet, the timing could not have been more perfect.

Next: Replacing the Flooring


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Compass is a licensed real estate broker. All material is intended for informational purposes only and is compiled from sources deemed reliable but is subject to errors, omissions, changes in price, condition, sale, or withdrawal without notice. No statement is made as to the accuracy of any description or measurements (including square footage). This is not intended to solicit property already listed. No financial or legal advice provided. Equal Housing Opportunity. Photos may be virtually staged or digitally enhanced and may not reflect actual property conditions.