It was a dark and stormy night, wait… wrong storyline. It was actually a random Tuesday afternoon and I was in a duplex home in northwest Miami. The client and I had just sat down at the kitchen table and we began to review the quote I had put together for her new air conditioner and water heater. This is when the fun began.
I can only use the word explosion to describe what happened next. The water heater and air handler were both in a closet about eight feet away from the table and out of nowhere… BOOM, which was followed by a second even louder boom. I looked up to see flames shooting out of the closet. It was in that moment I remembered the cover of the hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy, “Don’t Panic”
The client jumped up from the table and headed for the kitchen sink, starting to fill a cup up with water. I calmly told her she couldn’t put water on an electrical fire as it would make matters worse, and asked if she had a fire extinguisher. Fortunately, her adult son knew where it was and we got the fire out very quickly.
Next up, of course the explosion had caused the water heater tank to rupture and now we had water pouring out of the wall, an electrical outlet and several other places. I made my way to the circuit breaker panel and shut off all the breakers, which in any emergency, I strongly recommend. I headed back to our still smoking water heater and again we were lucky that the shut off valve actually worked and I was able to get the water shut off to the heater. Mind you this all happened in a matter of two minutes, so at that point I took a deep breath thinking all was well. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
We were standing out in front of the house and I heard water running in the unit next door. Again, fast-forward as we access the home and the water heater in this unit had exploded as well. Plus the same fire, water, circuit breakers and so forth.
I couldn’t get the water shut off to this water heater as the valve was no good so I ended up shutting it off at the water meter. Again, I recommend you know how to shut the water down to your whole home in the event of an emergency.
We are done now, right? Wrong, but thank you for playing. The neighbor across the street comes running out of her house screaming, “My water heater exploded, my water heater exploded!!! Same drill all over again.
What happened you ask? An unnamed construction company was building a condo a couple of doors down and they had a boom truck there which hit one of the super high voltage power lines overhead, sending a surge through the neighborhood causing this lovely little disaster. One careless act and the homes and lives of three innocent families were completely turned upside down.
My homeowner asked me what she should do next with tears in her eyes. I said you need to contact your insurance company, consider hiring a public adjuster to assist you, and make sure you get all the information on the at-fault party.
At this point the fire trucks, police, ambulances and a roving band of minstrels all start showing up and I bow out gracefully and head for home. I’m glad I was there and able to hopefully make a bad situation a little better. The moral to today’s story is of course to know where the important things are in your home in the event of an emergency so you can mitigate the losses as quickly as possible. Good luck and Godspeed Clara.
House Whisperer out!!
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