Compulsive hoarding is a mental disorder that is just beginning to be understood. As a hoarder, I have acquired things over the years with a specific purpose in mind at the time of the acquisition, used some of those items for their intended purposes, forgotten the goal for different objects, but now that I find that they have outlived their purpose in my life I am struggling to rid myself of those same things.

You can read the start of my journey here.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Blessings big and small. At least we didn't wake up dead.

Lots has been going on here in The Closet, but I haven't taken the time to post about it. I've been busy. I will be back daily soon. In the meantime...

Remember that our water heater went out last summer? 

Well, here's the rest of the story...

When the plumber came in to install the water heater the next day he told us that he "shouldn't actually install it, because it wouldn't be up to code" but that he would, and we'd have water by the time he was done. He also told us that he could not solicit extra work at the time, because he was installing the water heater for the Big Box Store, and that he was on their dime at the time, so to give him a call in the next few days.

Well, I was having some complications from the surgery I had at the time, so we weren't able to keep the appointment we did make. So The Hubster tried repeatedly over the next several weeks to get a hold of them. He called and left messages, asked for them to return his calls, etc., but nobody returned his calls. Not once. He even let them know that the plumber had left his wrench at our house, but it still wasn't enough to get a call.

In September, we got a call from the regional code enforcement officer about the fact that we had an open permit on the water heater. He asked, if the vent work had been done yet, and we told him that it hadn't. That we couldn't seem to get a response from the company that installed it. We didn't hear from code enforcement again, either.

The last several months, this has all been hanging over our heads. So when I had my latest surgery, The Hubster really started thinking about it and how to get a response from the installers. We just knew that there was a permit pulled on our house, and that we would be responsible for getting it all up to code, but we weren't sure what it all would entail. And we had no idea where to start, since the installers didn't seem to know how to work a telephone.

With my recovery from surgery being in the forefront followed by holidays, it took awhile for him to get in touch with anyone. He called the Big Box Store right before Christmas and asked what to do, since we couldn't get any sort of response. Amazingly, the installers suddenly knew what the numbers on their phone was for and made an appointment to come and look at the water heater. 

So the Monday after Christmas, the kid who installed it came out to say that he would call the regional code inspector to take a look at it, and that "Who knows? Maybe they'll be lenient and pass it, so it won't cost you any extra money." 

Uh. Huh. :::insert eye roll here:::

The Big Box Store called to let us know that they called the inspector, and that they made an appointment for Friday. But Friday was New Year's Eve, so they called us back to let us know that the inspector would be out on Thursday instead. We just knew it wasn't going to be good news.

We were right.

The inspector was on the verge of panic. He said it was a very dangerous situation. He showed us how there was hot air coming back through the vent above the water heater when the furnace and water heater happened to be on at the same time. In fact, the heat had melted the red and blue plastic washers that showed which was the hot water pipe and which was the cold water intake pipe. He said that every single time that happened that carbon monoxide was coming into our basement. 

That it could kill us all.

He told us to open the laundry room window and leave it open to let fresh air in until the vent could be replaced and to get someone out there as soon as possible to get the vent work done. He did feel much better knowing we did have a working carbon monoxide detector in the basement, but he was definitely concerned for our safety. We both really appreciate that. 

We called as soon as he left the house, but the plumbers we wanted to fix the situation (we went with a company we've had work on other things in our house over the years...we were not going to go with the original ones who could have killed us!) weren't able to make an appointment for us until this week. They came out Tuesday and gave us some more bad news. It would cost almost $1200 to fix everything and bring it up to code. 


The Hubster and I ran out to try to get a home equity line of credit, so we could pay for the venting, but we decided against it. It would cost several hundred dollars just to find out, if we'd qualify for the loan, and we didn't have several hundred dollars. So we opened a new credit card to cover the expenses. 


We went with plumbers we've used in the past. They did a fantastic job, and they were worth the money we had to pay. It was an awful lot of money, but at least we knew our family would be safe, and there's no amount of money in the world that was worth risking their health. The inspector came back yesterday and let us know everything was up to code. The inspector even seem relieved to know it was done, and we'd be safe. 

After the inspector left yesterday, I called the Big Box Store and gave them an update on all that happened. He asked, if everything had been solved to our satisfaction. I told him that it had indeed, but that none of it was to the credit of the original company that had been sub-subcontracted by the Big Box Store. That we had to hire someone else, etc. He asked me to please call BBS's Customer Care Line and lodge a formal complaint there. I was more than willing.

Once I'd told the representative at the Care Line what had happened, he thanked me for the information. He then asked how they could make it right. I had absolutely no idea. More than anything, I just didn't want this to happen to another family, and for someone to end up hospitalized or to wake up dead from carbon monoxide due to the incompetence of the installers. He said he would be forwarding my complaint to the store manager, the district manager and the regional manager and again thanked me for my call.

First thing this morning, the phone rang. It was the installer (the sub-subcontractor). We let the machine get it. The machine no sooner finished recording the message when the phone rang again.
It was the Big Box Store's subcontractor asking us to give them a call to talk about the complaint. We decided to wait until later to call either back, and let the machine get that call, too.

Thirty minutes later, the owner of the plumbing shop showed up at our door. He was very rude to my mom and just as ugly with my husband. Mom said he tried brushing her aside to come in the house right when my husband showed up behind her. It was definitely to try to intimidate them. 

He was gone by the time I got upstairs, but I was so irritated. I decided to make the phone call to the subcontractor right then and there. I didn't want my family to be harassed any further. I mean, really. What sort of business that has a complaint lodged against them shows up at the person's home, if the phone call is ignored? That just blows me away.

Anyway, I called the subcontractor. She asked for me to tell her everything that happened since August. She only knew that there had been a complaint lodged, but she hadn't been given the details. I was more than happy to let her know what happened, but I started out by telling her that we did not want the plumber showing up at our door again. Period. She assured me he would not come by again.

I told her everything that had happened. How we were very concerned over the fact that we could have all died due to the negligence of the plumber. That we were appalled that the plumber installed the water heater knowing it wouldn't pass inspection, and that they needed to only deal with plumbing companies that have the guts to refuse to install anything that won't pass inspection. 

After taking all the information in the complaint down, she asked, if she could call me back within the hour. I said I'd be home. She needed to talk to the managers of the company, (It's a national company that subcontracts plumbing installations for the Big Box Store), but that the managers were in a meeting. 

The phone rang 10 minutes later. 

She asked how much the vent work had cost us. I told her it was almost $1200. She asked, if I had a receipt. I said yes. She asked, if I had access to a fax machine, or if I could scan the and email it to her immediately. They wanted to make things right, and the national subcontractor company was going to pay for the cost of the vent repairs. They are apparently also going to be sending us a $50 gift certificate to use at the Big Box Store. 

Before we hung up, she asked me, if there was anything else they could do to make things right with us. I told her that the only thing I could think of was to make sure that the plumbers who installed the water heater would never hurt or kill any family by repeating the situation.  

I pray there's no other family out there who had these plumbers and have carbon monoxide filling up their home due to their negligence, and I praise God that He protected us through this whole ordeal. Praising Him also that He took care of the burden of a $1200 bill that we didn't have the money to pay. 

We are indeed blessed.


  1. Wow!!! the end part is exactly how it should be, but soo scary that it happened at all! Glad you are all OK and that at least the BBS is doing right by you and following up

  2. Wow. Totally unbelievable.

    I'm glad everything worked out in the end.

  3. It is said that God helps those that help themselves. You made the calls and stuck with it. You were given an inspector that had a heart, and finally talked to someone who more than made it right for you. And you passed the blessing along by suggesting they hire only honest, reliable workers. God Bless You!

  4. Amazing! I am so glad everything turned out well! Your guardian angels must be breathing a sigh of relief, too!

    OK my word verification was: really


  5. I am very lucky that I licenced plumbers / contractors/ electricians in my family that I can call day or night. That said, thank the good lord indeed that everyone's OK.

    I can't believ that he showed up at your door.


  6. Yikes, and congratulations on getting a fantastic end to the story!!!


  7. Oh. My. Goodness. I got chills, SO happy you were blessed, I agree, God helps those who help themselves. What a scary situation.

  8. I hate to sound cynical but your positive response sounds regional. In the tristate area, they would not have cared. The inspectors come and briefly (and I mean briefly) glance at the work done. The plumber would threaten to sue you for libel. The Big Box store would refer you to their corporate area who would just ignore you.

    I'm very glad it worked out for you.

  9. Hello!

    I've spent the last few days catching up on your blog, and have to tell you how amazing I find it!

    My mom passed away almost a year and half ago, and I've just recently moved back home. I am now faced with the mammoth task of going through boxes that have accumulated through 24 years of moving from house to house, and simply storing the boxes in one place or another without ever sorting through them. My mom, brother and myself are all responsible for the hoard. I've known for a while that the time would come for me to start sorting through it; but I've been putting it off, knowing that going through the boxes doesn't only mean going through stuff. It means sorting through memories, both good and bad. And it means finally letting go of some of the last links I have to my mom.

    Your blog has made me laugh and cry, as well as forcing me to take a long, hard look at myself and my tendecies and reasons for hoarding. Most of all, it's inspired me to finally step up and take responsibility for the mess the house is in. The dehoarding has already started.

    Thank you.

  10. Thanks all. Most of all, we're just very, very thankful that nobody was hurt. It just could have ended so badly.

    Julianna-you're right! You are lucky to have so many people like that in your family!

    I-You might be right about our locale playing a role in us being reimbursed. I'd hope not, but it very well could play a part.

    Owl-Wow! I'm humbled that I could somehow help. If you ever need to talk, feel free to shoot me an email. And starting is by far the hardest part. Once you get going with the dehoarding, you'll feel lighter both physically and mentally. Stay strong and best wishes!

  11. The title of your post made me laugh out loud. Not waking up dead is a good thing. :-)

    What a lot to have to deal with! So sorry.


Welcome to The Closet. Feel free to take off your coat, hang it up, if you can find the space, and sit a spell. I just love your visits. :)