Had to cancel today's guest: water break in foundation slab

16 Replies

Today I went to my vacation rental to finish up laundry for a turn.  When I went to the faucet to turn on the water, there was no water.  I went back to the recently-started washing machine.  Also, no water.  Immediately calling the water utility, I found that they had shut off the water to the house, because the meter was turning wildly. 

There was a blue notice in the door, which stated that 132300 gallons had run through the house.  Think about that.  A Home Depot bucket is 5 gallons.  100 gallons is a large fish tank.  1000 gallons would go on the back of a truck, or be a septic tank.  A 25 x 45 swimming pool 6 feet deep would hold 50,000 gallons.  The City rep told me to call my plumber. 

Mike got there within the hour, and turned on the water to the house.  He determined there is a leak in the slab of the house.  His suggestion was to call a leak detection company, who can come out on Monday.  My guest is due in hours.  I have booked the future appointment.  They can put a bandage on the problem, my plumber says, but it won't be a real long lasting solution.

Meanwhile, I call HomeAway and tell them that I have a guest inbound.  They put me on hold while they attempt to contact the guest.  I start to see notifications of cancellations in my messages on my phone.  Then I get a message from the guest asking, "Is this true?"  Oh my.  So I work to message him all the details of why it was last moment, what happened.  HomeAway won't hold the cancellation against me, as it is a situation out of my control.  They assisted the guest in finding another place to stay.  I hadn't had issues like this before, and am grateful HA handled this...I was quite distressed on behalf of the guest.  Wasn't thrilled that the situation was abrupt as it was for the guest.  

The plumber's plan is to route water through the attic space and drop down pipes in the walls.  I will need a sheetrock guy to put things back together again.  We may have a trench through the tile flooring and into the foundation.  I will have more to share on this topic.

I am not sure if I have to pay for the water; the plumber said they charge for water going through the sewer.  So there will be more to tell on this topic.

At this point, I am thankful we don't have a plumbing-inspired sink hole in the middle of the house.

That is good you went through HA as I have heard of scams where someone claims this last minute and moves them to another property that is crappy. Since HA contacted the guest and helped them find another place that should have eased their concerns.

@Kerry Baird I'm SO sorry to hear this happened to you. This sounds like a very stressful and possibly expensive capital expenditure to deal with and only hope that your insurance (or possibly home warranty if you have one) can help with the cost burden here. Best of luck on the rehab and keep us posted on how it goes...and being in Florida, I don't blame you for worrying about the possibility of sinkholes also!

In my town, 130k gallons of water would be about $800.  I've had some pipes freeze before, they burst and leak.  I fix the leak.  City still charges me for the sewer portion of the water.  I complain that the water was running down the street, not into the sewer.  They say I need a licensed plumber to fix it and they will waive the sewer portion.  

But the cost for a licensed plumber to fix it is going to be more than the sewer portion.  This has happened several times.

I have no problem with that.  Every time the person from the city screws me over for a water leak, their son ends up in the county jail for 14-30 days.  It's like clockwork.  The guy screws me over with his own discretion, his kid goes to jail. 

So sorry about that @Kerry Baird ! Sound like you got the guest situation handled well!

So for the water, we had a leak at the main right at where it came into the house in the basement. Over 250,000 gallons of water leaked down the foundation. Nothing leaked into the basement (well waterproofed in the 50's I would have to guess).

The city waived all the extra charge due to the leak. You should talk to the city and see if they would do that.

It makes my 30,000 gallon leak sound like a drop in a bucket.  The water portion was about $180, the sewer portion that the guy from the city would not waive was about $280.  His son went directly to jail 3 days after he denied my request for the sewer fee waiver.  

Thanks, all, for your encouragement. I figure someone later may have similar problems. The cost of the water, and possible damage to the foundation was in the sphere of the unknown, so I’m grateful for similar costs. 

It has been quite the day! I feel horrible for stressing the guest like that, however unintentional it may be. 

@Paul Sandhu

What does the city employee’s son going to jail have to do with the employee telling you couldn’t have a fee waiver?  How can that possibly have anything to do with you?

Also, I have no idea who are the sons of the various city employees that I do business with (I don’t even know what the employees names are). What a small town you are in!!

@Kerry Baird , man that totally sucks.  I've had the same thing happen a bunch of times in long term rentals, and it's never at an opportune time.  The nice thing is that once you pex your lines and get them out from under the slab, you'l never have to worry about them again.  Not sure why they'd have to go through the slab if they move everything above ground.  Good luck!

Originally posted by @Cheryl Vargas :

@Paul Sandhu

What does the city employee’s son going to jail have to do with the employee telling you couldn’t have a fee waiver?  How can that possibly have anything to do with you?

 It's called Karma.  Every time that employee screws me, his son goes directly to jail.  The last time I repeated this story was to a friend of mine that had some trouble with zoning, his driveway and a curb.  That employee was screwing him over too.  So I told him how the son ends up in county whenever I get screwed.  My friend just laughed and laughed.

He's a detective.  He was the guy that was arresting the son over and over.

A follow up to my foundation slab story.  I had a leak detection guy come and listen to the flow of water, which allowed him to identify the area where the slab leak was located.  I called my plumber, who expedited the repair...for which I am SO grateful.  It is good to have a plumber to call upon, last minute.

The plumber dug a new line from the front yard to the house. His team ran a line into the house and into the wall below.  The Master bedroom shower is on the other side of this wall, which is in the Kids' room of my short term rental.


I had a family coming the next day.  So once they were done with the wall, I grabbed drywall mud and taped and mudded the wall.  Then I placed a fan on the wall so it would hopefully dry by the next day.  Getting up early, I went over to prime and paint, and again put the fan on the wall to speed things up.  By the time the guests checked in, the wall was soft but "finished."  I explained the source of the newly painted wall smell.  Whew!  Didn't have to cancel on the guests.

The tape arrow is from the leak detection guy, which was $275.  I have the cost of the plumber (he hasn't sent his bill yet, so I need to follow up with him).  I'd say a few hundred dollars for half a days' work. I have my utility bill set up on auto-pay and noticed a nice little bill of $700 for the huge amount of water that went through this house.  

Originally posted by @Kerry Baird :

A follow up to my foundation slab story.  I had a leak detection guy come and listen to the flow of water, which allowed him to identify the area where the slab leak was located.  I called my plumber, who expedited the repair...for which I am SO grateful.  It is good to have a plumber to call upon, last minute.

The plumber dug a new line from the front yard to the house. His team ran a line into the house and into the wall below.  The Master bedroom shower is on the other side of this wall, which is in the Kids' room of my short term rental.


I had a family coming the next day.  So once they were done with the wall, I grabbed drywall mud and taped and mudded the wall.  Then I placed a fan on the wall so it would hopefully dry by the next day.  Getting up early, I went over to prime and paint, and again put the fan on the wall to speed things up.  By the time the guests checked in, the wall was soft but "finished."  I explained the source of the newly painted wall smell.  Whew!  Didn't have to cancel on the guests.

The tape arrow is from the leak detection guy, which was $275.  I have the cost of the plumber (he hasn't sent his bill yet, so I need to follow up with him).  I'd say a few hundred dollars for half a days' work. I have my utility bill set up on auto-pay and noticed a nice little bill of $700 for the huge amount of water that went through this house.  

 Wowwww, quite the story!! Have you installed Flo by Moen yet?! It’s a bit pricy but it will auto-cut your water when it detects a leak. Probably less pricy than this situation was, in the long run ;)

Oh the joys of plumbing. So sorry to hear this! Nice work focusing on the guest and making it right for them first. It's our duty as hosts. I, like you, feel terrible when these things come up to ruin a vacation for a guest who's been looking forward to their stay for days/weeks/months. The loss of income hurts too when you know the expenses that await. I have quite the story myself that entails a backed up septic system, but we'll save that for another time ;) Glad everything is fixed for you now. Hopefully that plumber's bill isn't too high!