Don’t Ignore the FFFFFFT Sound!

March 8, 2008 by Michelle

First of all, a disclaimer. Yes, I know today is Saturday. Yes, I know I’m posting about something that happened much earlier in the week, but it took me this long to be able to laugh about it, so you’ll have to deal. Trust me, if you were in my shoes, you may not be laughing yet.

Last Sunday, I was exhausted. I have two kids, ages 2 1/2 and 4. Not surprisingly, they keep me busy and have pretty much removed me from the social scene. Ten pm is now a late bedtime for me. Buuuuut Friday night was my seasonal girls night out in the city, which means chick drinks, good food, and a late night train ride home — South Water Kitchen this time around, for anyone who cares. And on Saturday, a good friend turned 40 and had a birthday bash. I couldn’t not go, could I? Such as it was, Sunday was not my best day.

I dragged myself to the fridge to refill my bottle of water and noticed a fffffft sound. I thought it odd that the icemaker was running as I didn’t remember anyone using much ice lately, but who am I to judge? Somewhere in the back of my mind, I made a mental note that I should really investigate the noise. Of course, that mental note stayed in the back of my mind as I proceeded to go about my night and trotted up to bed.

On Monday, I had the luxury of working from home. Briefly: I work three days a week at a large finance company as essentially the internal strategic consultant in the marketing area. I usually go into the office only one day a week and work from home the rest of the time. It’s a sweet gig, and I’m grateful for it. I really like what I do, and it’s challenging.

Redux: On Monday, I had the luxury of working from home. In the quiet of the house — yep, I’m the only one home on Mondays and Thursdays unless you count the cats — I noticed that the fffffft noise continued. Hmmm. So of course, me being me, I kept working and waited for it to go away. No, I do not come from a family of handy people in case you’re wondering.

Around lunchtime, I headed to the fridge to grab something and realized that the ffffft noise was not coming from the freezer. In fact, it was not coming from the fridge. Inside or outside. It was coming from behind the fridge. The next five minutes were spent with me pulling various parts of the fridge trying to pull it out of its lovely built-in cabinet. I knew there had to be a way — no way do people clean behind the fridge (or so I’ve heard) or install them without some sort of rolling capability. For those who need to know, if you get good leverage all the way near the bottom of the fridge while holding onto the sides of the monstrosity, you can heave side to side and eventually pull it out.

I got it far enough out to now look at the back of the fridge and see the it’s covered in water droplets up about four feet. My mind immediately tries to figure out what on earth could make the fridge sweat but only up to four feet. I touched it, and it felt warm, which didn’t make sense if the fridge was sweating. As my mind tried to wrap itself around this conundrum, I realized I could still hear the fffffft noise, but that it was coming from the wall where the fridge had been. I peered into the cabinet and saw some white thing spraying water.

Here’s where I start getting really proud of myself. I did not swear during this entire incident. Not once. Not even in my head, although I’ll admit that “oh, crap!” doesn’t count as swearing in my universe.

I detached the white thing from its handy dandy holder and peered at it. That’s when it decided to separate from the copper cable it was connected to and shart shooting water at me. The good news, is that the fffffft noise had now stopped. I wasn’t too fond of the noise that replaced it.

Logical person that I am, I decide to use my thumb to try to stop the stream of water. Not surprisingly, that didn’t work. Next thought was to find a bucket to catch some of the water. I’ll admit that I have yet to figure out where my nice blue bucket is, but I can guarantee you that, although I have many many things under my sink, a bucket is not among them. Fortunately, I’d used my brand new crockpot the night before, and DH had washed it but as usual not put away the item he’d washed. I grabbed that and stuck the white thing into it.

I ran into the basement to find the water shutoff valve. See, my brain functions in a crisis. A little. A very little. This is what I saw, as I ran into the basement.




I looked in the room with the furnace, but couldn’t find anything that looked like it. As I’m going upstairs to run outside because I swear the housing inspector told me where it was on the side of the house in case I ever needed to turn off the water (apparently, he knows my type?), I whipped out the cell phone to call my dad. Gotta love Dad! Especially Dad who lives 15 minutes away. And had an idea of where to look for the water shutoff.

In the basement bedroom, in the unfinished closet, behind the cat carriers, I found the shutoff valve. DH has taught me “lefty loosey, righty tighty.” But ummm is turning off water tightening or loosening? I turned while thinking, then changed my mind and turned the other way. Then changed my mind again and turned the first way and kept turning and turning. And turning. Finally, it seemed to be all the way off. Or on, maybe. I ran upstairs to check on my gushing water, and it was down to a trickle.

Dad arrived (yay, Dad!) as I was using my towels to try to sop up some of the water. He suggested using my ShopVac. Ok, not my ShopVac, but I did buy it for DH for Christmas this year after three years of it being on his list. Duh! I also remembered that I had a Bissell steamer in the unfinished closet that would likely suck up some water. Needless to say, we spent the next couple of hours vacuuming and cleaning and throwing away ceiling tiles. And finding the fans that had been put away at the end of the summer into their boxes and stored in the closet where they belong left in my kids’ rooms next to their dressers that I somehow never saw even though I walk past them 30 times a day.

This is not how I’d anticipated spending my Monday. Not really how I’d wanted to spend it either. The silver lining is that the water damage guy that I managed to come out to tell me how bad it would be actually reassured me. It wasn’t that bad! I’m not sure how, but he didn’t see the need for his services at all. He didn’t even charge me for the visit! Apparently, I can still play the poor, pathetic, helpless female to some degree, although I wasn’t doing it on purpose here! The better news was that somehow, the water damage was confined to the small part of the basement ceiling that is a drop ceiling and did not touch the drywall ceiling. The tile that broke by itself from the water is literally next to where the drywall ceiling starts, but by some miracle, the drywall was not damaged in the least. I may not be handy, but I do know that dryawall ceilings can’t be easy cheap to fix.

The kicker? The next day, and I couldn’t make this up if I tried, in the mail was a postcard from Sears. In my defense, we bought the house with fairly new appliances in it, so I wasn’t aware of what did or didn’t need to be done with the fridge in terms of maintenance. But since we had an issue with our dryer last fall, apparently Sears figured out that we now own all the appliances in our house and transferred those records from the previous owners to us. Why is this relevant? They were sending me a reminder to change the water filter on my fridge. Three guesses what the white thing on the back of the fridge was.

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    Comments

  • BPOTW


    All of that from a water filter!?!? You had some quick reactions during that crisis! I believe I would have stood there rocking and sucking my thumb…

    Thanks for sharing your post on Best Posts of the Year!

  • momma


    found you on bpotw. i thought this was so funny. thank you for sharing it!! my husband and i are NOT handy people either and like you, i call my dad when i need help. however, my dad is 8 hours away. but in true dad spirit – he always knows the answer!!

  • Alyce


    How funny! But I could see how it wouldn’t be at the time.

    We had something similar happen over a year ago, but it was a faulty (cheap) seal that the builder used on the water thing behind the fridge. So when we were out of the house on the hottest day of the year (over 100 degrees) it burst.

    Thankfully we got home soon after and only had to replace the linoleum. The unfortunate part was that we had to run heaters and fans to dry out the mess. Heaters on a 100+ day. It was awful!

    I’m glad things worked out for you. I’m here from BPOTW.

  • Ronnica


    Sounds like a lot of fun! Haha. I’m glad that you didn’t have more water damage, I know how destructive it can be. We had a small fire a year ago, and the water from the sprinklers ruined a lot.

  • ~Rachée


    WOW!
    A few years ago a similar thing happened: I heard a pinging noise and ignored it. Lo and behold! Water, water everywhere!
    Good luck.
    -r

  • Oh2122


    Holy Cupcakes!

    I had a slightly similar experience the week after we moved into our house, but mine was a shhhhhh noise. I was in the basement switching the laundry and eventually traced the sound to the incoming water pipe spraying all over one side of my new house!

    I know where our shut-off valve is now too.

  • Michelle


    Vicki – Yep, that all came from the simple water filter. And trust me, rocking and sucking my thumb was a definite option at some point 🙂

    Momma – Thanks and welcome! I will admit that I’m very grateful that my parents are closer than 8 hours away. That would have made life MUCH more difficult.

    Alyce – Oh that’s a bummer! Hopefully the builder picked up the repair for you, but ick — heaters on such a hot day? I hope you found somewhere cool to stay sane.

    Ronnica – Yeahhhh, lots of fun 🙂 I’ve heard that with sprinklers they often cause more damage than the fire, but … better to have the damage than to lose the residence!

    Rachee – Huh! It seems like this water damage thing is more common than I thought it was. Here’s hoping you got it cleaned up ok.

    Oh2122 – Ouch! That’s a bummer for you. Congrats on solving the problem. Apparently I should have been paying more attention when I did the walk through with the inspector!

  • i am feathermaye


    Hi, I’m here from BPOTW.

    Great story, in spite of the panic and near ruination of your drywall ceiling!

    I never ignore noises. In fact, I tend to hear noises that no one else hears. My husband is never quite sure what to do when I sit bolt upright in bed and say “Did you hear that?!”

    Happy New Year!

  • Hot Tub Lizzy


    My parents bought a new house in 1972, when I was about 5 months old. It was a lovely brand new ranch style home, and they decked that sucker out to the nines, including some beautiful new Avocado green appliances, including a fridge with an automatic ice maker. They moved in in June, got sort of unpacked, and then headed to my grandparents summer home in Canada for the summer. About 6 weeks into the trip, my mom had to come home for a conference. She pulled up into the garage of her fancy new house, and opened the door… to a puddle… and a basement staircase that had become a waterfall… the tube to the fridge had come undone and it had been leaking water for WEEKS… they had to put a whole new sub floor in, and it flooded all the boxes that had been in the basement..

    Oh very bad.

    I’m glad you could laugh about it – and good job getting that water turned off!!

  • Michelle


    i am feathermaye – Oooo, your husband has to love that. So what *are* the noises you do hear then?

    Hot Tub Lizzy – That sounds painful. VERY painful. At least your mom came back before the whole summer had passed. These are painful lessons to learn though, aren’t they?

  • Kate Coveny Hood


    That was epic. Now I’m going to be sleepless at night wondering if I need to change the water filter on my fridge….

  • Michelle


    Kate – Umm, yes, I think epic covers it well. It was very painful at the time… and we’ve since been very cognizant of where the filter level is. And we have two spares in the house, since our size apparently isn’t so easy to find. Go change your filter now! 🙂

  • Elizabeth


    visiting via BPOTW…great story, well-written! I can see why you needed a few days to find it funny. Thank goodness for our dads, huh!

  • Michelle


    Elizabeth – Thanks, I appreciate it. And dads are wonderful. I don’t know what I’d do without mine! 🙂

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