“We seem to have a problem in the kitchen,” Amy said. “There’s a bulge under the linoleum.”


I stepped on the section of flooring and felt it give. Grabbed a flashlight and headed for the crawlspace under the house. As soon as opened the door that led from the garage I heard water dripping on the plastic that covers the dirt floor the crawlspace.

Uh-oh, uh-oh.

Water sprayed from one of the pipes leading to the kitchen and pooled on the plastic tarp. I left for work as Amy worked the phones, trying to find a plumber. One said he could come on Saturday. Not soon enough. For weeks we had been trying to locate Robbie at Laurel Branch Plumbing, considered one of the county’s best plumbers, to get an estimate for a water filtration system but his voicemail box was always full (not unusual in a county with only three plumbers).

But she kept trying and reached him in the early afternoon. He’d just returned from another job and was headed to the shower. Said he’d be right out. He arrived just as the clouds opened up from the remnants of Hurricane Katrina. Found a crack in a hot water pipe leading to the kitchen sink. Ninety minutes later, pipe fixed, leak stopped.

But a couple of inches of water remained pooled in one corner of the crawlspace, along with several rows of soaked insulation under the kitchen floor. Headed for Lowes in Christiansburg to pick up an industrial-strength dehumidifier with a pump to send water up and out of the crawlspace. Spent the rest of the evening setting it up and routing the drain hose out into the yard. With luck the unit will dry the wood before mold sets in.

Robbie said he would be back next month to install a water filtration system. Maybe, by then, the crawl space will be dry.