(No manuscripts were harmed in the making of this disaster, as far as we can tell.)
This is the story of the washing machine that smelled.
Fascinating, I know.
So it smelled. We had no idea why. It's a top-loading one from Maytag and it's not that old. It's not a fancy HE or anything like that. But for some inexplicable reason, when washing things (rags, as I was doing tonight), it would emit the most pleasing odor that I can only describe as something similar to fresh cat poop. Obviously, something was not right.
So I googled. Splendiforous Google pointed out to me that there were many reasons why my machine might have developed its random smell, chief among them, that it might have the possibility of hidden mold/mildew/fungus. Ok, that didn't sound terrible. You can fix those things.
We weren't going to go out in the middle of the night and buy any of the recommended fancy cleaning products, as Chris was tired. We had already run through an empty load with color-safe bleach last week(I can't abide the traditional stuff; it's the chlorine smell), which hadn't really done anything. We did have white vinegar in the house, so I decided to try attacking the weird smell with that, this evening.
Being the responsible people we are, we first checked the actual plumbing, to make sure there was nothing dead in there. To fully appreciate the rest of this story, you must know that we live in a two-story townhouse and that the washing machine and dryer sit in an alcove in the upstairs hallway. So anyway, Chris pulled out both the dryer and the washing machine, inspected underneath and all around, and unplugged the actual drain line from the washing machine, which itself did not smell. We concluded that our smell was probably coming from the machine itself.
I filled the washing machine up with very hot water. I poured in almost a cup of white vinegar. It happily started to disinfect itself, as best as it could.
And then, it started to drain.
And then, the smoke alarm started to go off at an ear-splitting pitch.
And then, we realized that Chris had been tired, and hadn't actually reattached the drain line from the washing machine, back into the plumbing system. And that the washing machine was happily dumping its load of hot water and vinegar all over our floor.
By the time we became aware of the situation, the carpeting in our upstairs hallway was already soaked through. We had water running through the ceiling, into our downstairs hallway and part of the lower staircase landing. This was NOT GOOD. Let me emphasize the NOT GOOD-ness of this.
I shut the washing machine. Chris ran outside and shut the entire power to the house.
Why the power, you ask?
Well, you see, our townhouse came with two smoke alarms that are actually wired into the electrical system. About a month ago, when Chris was painting the dining room, he had unmounted the downstairs smoke alarm from the ceiling, and left it dangling, while he painted around it. He hadn't yet remounted it onto the ceiling, so there was a hole where it should have been and the smoke alarm itself, wires and all, still attached.
And that smoke alarm hole, my dear friends and blog readers, was where all the washing machine water was pouring through from the upstairs. Oh goody.
So we killed the power, since we weren't sure that the smoke alarm having gallons of water dumped on it was particularly good for our townhouse's electrical system, let alone whether it would decide to short and start an electrical fire.
And then, we proceeded to fumble around in the pitch-dark, while the water still flowed from our ceiling, desperately searching for flashlights. Or rather, Chris did, because I'm blind as a bat in the dark, there was water all over the tile floor we have downstairs, and I would kill myself looking. So I did the most intelligent thing I could, throwing towels on the floor, and standing under the one leak that wasn't coming from the smoke alarm. I got nice and wet in the process, but to my poor panicked brain, that was the appropriate thing to do, so that we could find it in the dark. I am perhaps not the best person to be around during a minor house disaster. =)
(Have I mentioned that with no power, we have no heat, and it's in the low twenties tonight?)
Let's fast-forward almost an hour. We mopped up water; we tried to dry the upstairs carpet; we eventually talked to Chris' father, who knows more about electrical systems than we do. We then, finally, turned the power on again.
And the smoke alarm immediately went off. At an excruciatingly loud pitch again. Poor Zoe leapt under the bed and mewed her head off. Chris desperately tried to disable it, but it's not the easiest thing to do, when it's well past midnight and the blasted thing is directly ringing in your ears. Eventually, we gave up on disabling it, and Chris shut the circuit breaker that controlled it. Hooray, no more noise.
But we still have a downstairs ceiling that will need some repair, an upstairs carpet which is currently ripped up and has a fan running air under it, and a house that smells like moldy water. The damage is not as bad as it could have been; it's also not as good as having no damage.
So if I'm a bit slow during the next week or so, or slower than usual, it's because I'm working on geting my house in order again.
And by some minor miracle, no manuscripts or queries seem to have gotten wet. Thus, I wish to offer a public notice of thanks to whatever gods protect those things--you'll be getting a rather large Christmas present from me. =)