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Seattle, WA, USA

Posted Sat Feb 09, 2019 4:10 pm

On February 7, 2019, I got a frantic call at work from my wife. One of our outside pipes had cracked from the winter cold and was spraying water everywhere outside of my house.

As I tried to explain how to shut off the water while driving frantically to my home, the water continued to pour. I thought to myself, "Thank goodness the water is at least outside of the house this time."

A year ago, the day after Christmas 2017, we had a pipe fail inside our home that took 3 different plumbing crews over a week to finally find and repair. It was a very rough week, and our entire basement floor was destroyed. The good news was it forced us to replace all of the carpet down there which was ancient and hideous (it came with the house) so we eventually had a brand new floor.

Fast-forward back to this past Thursday. My mood changed from calm to disturbed when I got a single text from my wife: "Disaster." I was only 5 minutes from the house now, but then the canal bridge went up to let some stupid sailboat go through. "Who the hell is sailing in 30 degree temps?" I thought. The clock kept ticking.

Right next to where the pipe cracked and burst outside is a small concrete "pit" that is in front of one of my basement storage rooms. It allows for a small sliding window in the basement, which lets a little bit of natural light in. Or, at least it used to. I happen to block that window with multiple layers of painter's tape, as I don't want the natural UV light to enter the domain of my Commodore collection.

That's right. That feeling in your stomach as you read this is justified, because the water from the burst pipe had filled that concrete pit, and it was pouring through the seams of the useless window.

By the time I got home and rushed downstairs, my storage room had 1 inch of water floating along the floor.

On a side note: one of the glorious things about my comic collection is that 99% of it is encased in individual plastic sleeves. So my priceless Bernie Wrightson and Richard Corben horror comics I've been holding onto since my teens are OK. Each sleeve had to be hand dried one by one, of course, but the contents are safe.
Over the past holiday break, I had been worried about the potential for a basement flood (not like it happened, but just in general). I had spent over 2 back breaking days completely re-organizing everything and - most importantly - getting a plastic tub bottom layer for most of the boxes. I then bought a new shelf and put some of my prized 8-bit collection upon it as well as a hodge podge of Amiga PSUs and cables. I carefully stacked my NOS, never opened 2 C64s (one breadbin, one C) on the bottom rack, 3 inches off the ground. Finally, I covered the window as I mentioned before. I was very pleased with this new addition. The vast majority of my Amiga collection is to the left of this rack, and behind where I was standing when I took this shot (also on a shelving unit).
Prior to this I had things on the floor, on top of other boxes - it had been a mess and a constant stressor to find things quickly and easily.

What happened was water poured down the back wall. The pipe outside that failed produced a very bizarre crack which, incredibly, shot the water in a direction I would have never guessed - directly toward my basement window's concrete light hole.

Most of the items on the shelf itself were completely spared and bone dry. But the NOS C64 boxes on the bottom were splashed (presumably from the floor as the water came down so hard and fast) as was one original 1541 box. And, while salvageable not 100% perfect anymore. I was crushed. It could have been worse - the machines were entirely bone dry - but I was very sad about those 30+ year old boxes having met such a senseless fate.

As I mentioned before, all of my Amiga stuff is on top of large plastic bins, so all of it was saved. The only real casualties were the Commodore boxes and my original iMac ruby that I used to use on a daily basis back in 1998/1999. The machine I wrote love letters to my eventual wife on and created designer-y Flash websites with. It's box was mint, and original, and housed my sweet old friend. I was mortified. After removing every single box and crate from my storage room, I lifted the iMac box. Several pints of water gushed out of the soggy bottom. I opened the box.

Thankfully, due to the clever styrofoam construction, the iMac was hovering in the middle of the box several inches above the bottom of the box. It looked to have been spared!
To see my old pug who I lost back in 2009 on the desktop brought a warm smile to my face. My iMac was OK. (I am going to install The Dig on it soon, too.) Man, OS X is such a superior OS to it (and the rest), but I do miss the Macintosh OS user interface and tools.

My Dell that I used in art school and created my senior thesis with didn't fare as well, unfortunately, as I'd set it on the floor back in December.
I will try to power it up in a week or two - wish me luck.

In any case, the vast majority of my collection was spared thanks to my holiday cabin fever inspired organizing. And we had plumbers over that completely redesigned how all of those pipes are fed and we even created a new drain.

But that window (which has never been an issue before, even in "rainy Seattle") will make me rethink how I do things as I put my storage back together.

Big plastic bins saved the day, folks. And wherever you store your stuff, try to imagine all of the worst case scenarios as you build your lines of defense. I thought I had and I was wrong. Use your imagination and even try to be a little paranoid about it. It could save you some heartache in the future.
This isn't the worst I've seen, but it used to be as flat as an iron. :(

Some of our 1-year old flooring will have to be replaced, too, but at least that's replaceable and pretty easy.

User avatar
Roseville, CA

Posted Sat Feb 09, 2019 4:36 pm

Oh man, what a retro tragic story! But it sounds like it could have been a LOT worse and your prep work went a long way to prevent that from happening.

I'm pretty sure that old DELL appeased the water benders sufficiently to keep them distracted from the more important stuff.

User avatar
Seattle, WA, USA

Posted Sat Feb 09, 2019 4:37 pm

My hand-drawn maps for Legacy of the Ancients - one of my all-time favorite games on the C64 for nostalgic reasons (plus it's super fun) didn't fare so well. I'd placed this clipboard on the floor. Sigh...

@Toast, yeah, it could have been a lot worse by orders of magnitude.

User avatar
North Florida

Posted Mon Feb 11, 2019 6:29 am

If you need parts for that Dell, let me know, I may have access to stuff you can use.

Glad it wasn't as bad as it could've been.

And not sure how you let those C64's just sit in their, after you're gone, your spirit is gonna wish you played some SID'licious music on those babies ;)

User avatar
Zippy Zapp

Posted Mon Feb 11, 2019 10:17 am

Well I am glad it didn't turn out as bad as I thought when I read the subject but I completely understand that sinking feeling and the ruined boxes. A couple of years back I lost a few items due to unusual amounts of rain and it coming under the back door in my converted garage office, despite sand bags and mitigation. It's a horrible feeling and I am sorry to read about your experience with it.

But yeah, I had file boxes with software, cables and other parts of my Commodore and Mac stuff. Same deal, bought plastic tubs and containers with seals so they are airtight and now everything is in plastic just in case. Don't want to go through that again.

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Posted Wed Feb 20, 2019 7:20 am

I feel for you, my friend... I know nothing we can say can make this any better though, sadly. It sucks.

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Twin Falls, ID

Posted Thu Feb 21, 2019 10:59 pm

Dang! All my vintage boxes are in the basement on the floor. Looks like this weekend some steel shelving and plastics bins are in order. Thanks for the warning... So sorry that happened!

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