When An Easy Project Goes Wrong

I'm no stranger to using a drill. I don't inflate myself and suggest that I'm a skilled craftsman, but I'm competent enough to hang a heavy mirror on a wall using drywall screws. That's such an easy project that I'm not sure if you even can consider it a project at all.

That being said, it's also the exact project that got me in over my head yesterday. Let me explain.

I received a beautiful mirror for Christmas. I've been actively thinking about hanging it for the last month and a half. I picked the perfect spot for it our bedroom wall. For the last two or three weeks, I've been actively talking about hanging it. For one reason or another, I just haven't gotten around to it.

Yesterday, however, I decided it was time. My husband is out of town, but I knew I could manage on my own. I even envisioned him returning on Saturday evening from his travels, walking into our bedroom, being surprised by my skill and initiative, and saying, "Oh, you hung the mirror! It looks great!"

With this confidence and gumption, I gathered my materials, marked precisely where to drill, double-checked to ensure the holes would be level, and used my 3/16 drill bit on the first hole. Perfect.

Then I drilled the second hole, which also seemed perfect until I removed the drill from the wall and was immediately hit in the face with a spray of water. Water? Water! Wait, water? Did I drill into a pipe? How did I drill into a PIPE? I was nowhere near plumbing!

But none of that logic matters when a stream of water is gushing from the hole you just drilled in your bedroom wall. I immediately plugged the hole with my finger to get my bearings. There was no way I had drilled into a pipe. I called my daughter, who wasn't feeling well and was resting in bed, to come help.

Daughter (cough): "But I'm dying."

Me: "Irrelevant. Come here and press your finger on this hole for me while I get a bucket and a towel. Then you can die."

Turns out, I hadn't drilled into a water pipe after all. But I had drilled into a return air vent pipe which, due to a missing vent cap on our roof, had been filled with water. When I nicked it with my drill, all the accumulated rain water stagnating in that pipe -- from the top of our roof to the exact spot where I drilled into my upstairs bedroom wall -- poured onto my floor and leaked through the ceiling of our family room below.

I'll spare you the extraneous details, but later in the evening, I cut out a section of soaked, crumbling drywall from our bedroom wall so I could block the hole with a quick-seal adhesive patch. Our contractor friend is coming tomorrow to discern how to best flush out the remaining water below my drill hole in the pipe, remove any blockage, and install the missing vent cap that caused this mess in the first place. Of course, at some point, I'll need to prime and repaint the family room ceiling.

On the positive side, I should be glad that I hit the pipe. If I had drilled even one inch to the left or right, I never would have discovered we had a problem in the first place. This is a good thing. At least, that's what I'll tell myself when I think about my beautiful mirror, which I've now slid underneath the bed, or look at the hole in my bedroom wall, or glance up at the water stains marring my family room ceiling.

One thing hasn't changed, though. I had imagined that my husband would be surprised when he returned home from his trip and saw what I had done to our bedroom. I think that's still valid.

Surprise, honey!

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