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Archive for August 14th, 2008

Like any good horror story, this one has an exclamation point.

Last Sunday, the 10th, my brother-in-law came over to help us get some things done around the house. This is no mere jaunt across town for him — no, he drove over an hour one way to give us a bunch of his time and energy. And last Sunday he brought his pressure-washer.

(Here I should preface the whole story with: the house we just bought had been vacant for over a year. We knew going in that it had been empty for a while, but not quite this long. Anyhow, back to the story.)

Our patio, of which I do not have a picture, is under a beautiful locust tree in a shady corner. Lovely for sitting outside enjoying a margarita (on the rocks with salt and lime, please), but not lovely for the concrete, which had developed some serious mossy-looking growth all over it. It was no longer grey, it was green. Blegh.

So Heath brought his pressure-washer. And hooked it up to the admittedly ancient-looking garden hose that we had inherited, and hooked the hose up to the outside spigot. Nothing. As in, no water pressure. There would be a little bit, but it conked out pretty quickly. We determined the hose was bad (no kidding — it’s got folds that won’t unfold) and I run out to Lowe’s with Heath to buy a new garden hose. Triumph! All will be well now!

Except no, it wasn’t. Still no water pressure. It wasn’t the pressure washer’s fault, said the two mechanical-minded guys. Maybe it’s the spigot? Is it a frost-free spigot (warning: video starts when you link)? Because it should be. No, it wasn’t a frost-free spigot. Is there mineral build-up? Sort of, but not really. NinjaHusband jiggled something and realigned something, and that seemed to do nothing, so we unhooked the hose from the washer and from the outside spigot and were ready to call it a day on the pressure-washing.

Then, NinjaHusband turned on the outside spigot, and this came galumphing out:

fully disgusting.

Only, it didn’t come out like that at first. It came out looking like red soft-serve ice cream, in all its gloopy glory. What the damn hell is coming out of my pipes? What did I just get myself into? How much did I just pay for this house?

From the spigot

It poured and poured and eventually the water got clearer, but still red, then orange, then yellowish, and we all three were standing there utterly gobsmacked. What the hell was this stuff? Then NinjaHusband picked some of it up and looked more closely.

Not eggs.

It was in bits.

Round bits.

Kind of translucent and squishy bits.

Kind of like… eggs?

Um. What? At this point I kind of lost my head, my ability to cope, and almost lost my grip on acceptible grown-up behavior. I really wanted to freak out and yell or cry or vomit or perform some action that was on the same freak-out level as the gunk coming out of my pipes. But I didn’t. Instead I called my dad. No, it can’t be eggs. It’s probably a mixture of sand and rust. Just run the water through the pipe for five minutes every few days and it’ll be gone.

I thanked my dad and hung up, still not really sure — sand isn’t squishy. After the water ran clear and we ran the gunk out of the new garden hose, Heath was able to run the pressure-washer and get the mossy algae off our patio. We kept working on the house stuff but were still pretty weirded out by the Mysterious Red Goo From The Outside Spigot.

When 6:00 rolled around I headed out to knit night and took my pictures with me. I described the stuff to my knitter group (probably in a high-pitched and panicky-sounding way) and everyone said, Oh it’s rust, don’t worry, it’s sediment, your town’s water is kind of rusty, full of minerals, etc. Then I showed them the pictures.

Silence blanketed the table (hard to do with our group). The consensus was that we should get that shit checked out immediately. IMMEDIATELY. “Dude, those look like spider eggs.” “That looks a lot like worm eggs.” And one delightful person said “Yeah, that could be salamander eggs.” What the hell? How is this in any way helpful to my state of mind, which is supposed to be one of relaxation while I’m at knit night? How, I ask you.

So I called my town’s water district first thing Monday morning. I was told there was no way anything could be living in the water, that the chlorine was high enough, that they test it daily, that the well we’re on is the best in town… but they’re sending someone out to take a sample right away.

An hour and a half later I get a call from the water softener place. “Hi we got a call from the city and they brought over a sample of the stuff that was coming out of your pipes.” Turns out that …
IT WAS NOT EGGS. It was old, old water softener medium. How old? Well, it turns out the water softener (that we were bypassing, thank god) is original to the house (that is, April of 1974, nineteen seventy-fucking-four). And something in it broke. And released these old particles into our pipes. Fortunately, the goop was only in that one pipe leading to the Outside Spigot (that the previous owner likely never turned on) and we don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to get it out of the other plumbing. And then dude tried to hard-sell me a new water softener.

So I can rest easy, content that spiders are not laying eggs in my pipes, nor are salamanders about to crawl out of the dishwasher.

But it was absolutly horrifying for an entire afternoon.

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