A failed BlueMax water pipe and a basement full of water

Posted By on February 7, 2013

Well I probably shouldn’t say "a basement FULL of water," but when coming home from a week vacation and finding water covering the floor makes it feel like chairinwaterthe basement was FULL of water!

We stumbled in last night after a day of travel pretty much ready for bed, only to find "water, water, everywhere" … and scrabbled to figure out what was going on. I knew the weather had been cold and immediately suspected that a pipe may have broken. A glance at the flashing microwave hinted that perhaps a power outage contributed to the problem? I waded down the stair into the "clear" pool of water in our basement and skeptically flipped my hand at the electrical switches so I could at least see what I was looking at. After grabbing a flashlight I headed to both sump pumps (we have two) and they were humming away, but didn’t seem to be making much ground on the water level so I headed outside and notice that both outlets were overflowing … there must have been too much water for the drain line?

sumpdrainmI rigged up a couple 4 inch pipes and stretch them away from the foundation and flooded the yard instead of the foundation … but at least the water didn’t head right back for the sump pit. I was obvious that the pumps were just recirculating most of the water that they were pumping, but I still couldn’t figure out what caused the flooding to begin with? There didn’t look to be much snow and I didn’t think we had that much rain? I put my ear to the water main in the basement and heard what I thought was water running. I had Brenda stick her head under each of our vanities and toilets … the washing machine, dishwater and icemaker … they were fine. Then I turned off the valve where the BlueMax plastic pipe came in from the outside and was able to quiet the pipes a bit. Hmm, our water pressure was low too???

Eventually our sump pumps caught up with the water, but "wow" those black perforated tiles under the basement floor were really streaming water into the sumps … at least one of the sumps … the one nearest the BlueMax pipe where water enters the house. Hmm … maybe I’m onto something?

An emergency call to the county water department had a truck out at dawn and we were able to shut off the main valve at the meter after noticing that the water meter was spinning "even though the house valve was off."  Ah ha … there is a leak between the meter and the house valve … most likely where the BlueMax pipe enters the house?

So here we are … a wet basement, ruined furniture, carpet, drywall, cabinets, my workshop tools (those that were low) and our house without water. Suffice to say, I’m not really "off" to work today; it would be so much nicer to be just complaining about going to work.

I did immediately call my insurance company and they arranged for a water extraction clean up crew and assigned me a claims adjuster … BUT I also found out what many probably already know, basement flooding are touchy issues. In fact, it looks as if most of my coverage (after my $1000 deductible) is going to pay only for clean up and dry out and will not be enough to cover drywall or carpet … let along the labor to install. I’m trying to contest … but am not sure how far I’m going to get?

In the meantime, I’m listening to the big vacuum truck in our driveway and helping guys hauling out the saturated carpet, wet drywall and soaked cardboard boxes. Thankfully the excavator came out and we’re scheduled to put in a new copper water line on Friday — being without water is already challenging!

I’m having too much fun … I just love coming home from a week of boat problems and helping with my in-laws medical issues while on a short vacation? [sarcasm]


  • Alice Kallenberger

    We had water in our basement last year and still haven’t recovered. I don’t think we’ll ever finish the basement again. A scrap of carpet and old furniture is all we need! I feel for you Rich!

  • I’m still scared to do a finished basement for reasons like this..

    sorry you had to come home to this after such an interesting trip south with Encore
    I thought there was a big push years ago to replace BlueMax pipes like this, did you miss all those warnings? 🙁

    • I missed or more than likely did not pay attention to the warnings? Why didn’t you warn me! 🙂

      We have water again … But the pressure seems low?

      • There was a class action lawsuit a few years ago, I think a bunch of money was set aside for damages, I don’t know how to claim though. Google around for west chester blue max and you can find all sorts of info and plumbers warning replacement before damages are done 🙁
        Concerning the low pressure, I wonder if the new copper was the same sized line?

  • Here’s the failed BlueMax.

  • Here’s hoping that Butler County will lower my water bill?

Desultory - des-uhl-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee

  1. lacking in consistency, constancy, or visible order, disconnected; fitful: desultory conversation.
  2. digressing from or unconnected with the main subject; random: a desultory remark.