Our 27th year of publishing

Published March 30, 2021

What’s that sound?

A water pipe is leaking, or a train is passing by

By John Toth / The Bulletin

Flashlight in hand, I walked through the house, alternating the beam of light between the floor and ceiling. I was looking for new water spots forming on the ceiling or water accumulating on the floor.

I have been doing this almost every night since several of our water pipes burst in the attic and were fixed - temporarily.

The plumbers were running short on parts, so they capped off the pipes leading to sections of the house. We could still use the kitchen and the master bathroom. They remained functional, although the kitchen lacked cold water.

That was not a big deal after being without running water for several days. We were just glad to get back to near normal.

I turned the main water line off, went to bed, but had trouble sleeping. I made several checks to make sure the house wasn’t getting flooded. It could not flood. The water was shut off. I knew that. But I made the checks, anyway.

I stopped trusting our copper pipes and thought about re-piping the whole house, but first we needed to solve this immediate problem.

One of the Houston TV stations ran a headline on its webpage: “How do you know if your home’s pipes burst during the freezing weather?”

I know; I know. When it starts raining from your ceiling. When yellow spots appear on the ceiling. When water fills up the light fixtures that were, luckily, turned off.

In our case, all of the above, and one more - when you hear a gushing sound coming from the attic.
“What’s that noise?” I asked early one morning as I got up and made my water checks. “Do you hear it? It’s like a pipe leaking.”

It was the sound of a distant train passing through Angleton. Then the train blew its whistle, and it convinced me that my pipes had not gone crazy again.

“Is that water dripping?”

No, it was the clock on the wall in the other room. It still makes that ticking sound and has a big hand and a little hand.

“What’s that sound?”

It was workers hammering away at the house across the street, repairing the weather damage there. That makes sense. It sounded like water running.

I used to sleep with an air filter turned on at night to help muffle some of the noise the cats make at all hours, like endlessly digging in the litter box. I think one of them does it on purpose just to wake us up.

Now I sleep in complete silence. I want to hear everything, and I want to be woken up by strange noises, except for the cat litter being scratched.

I turn the TV sound on so that I can barely hear it and program it so that it shuts off by itself in about 30 minutes.

Then I fall asleep in silence and stay asleep until something wakes me up. Then I go on water checks, go back to sleep and wake up again when the cat starts scratching the litter box. Then I go on another water check.

I have diagnosed myself as suffering from PTSD-LWP (leaking water pipes). There is no known cure for this except for the pipes not to leak for a long time.

I have shared my condition with others who have had pipes leaking after the freeze, and they have recounted similar behavior patterns of their own.

Except for plumbers. The ones who have worked on my house also had pipes burst and weren’t that concerned. I wouldn’t be, either, if I were a plumber. Like, I wouldn’t be all that concerned about my car breaking down if I were a mechanic.

“What’s that sound?”

It’s the wind. I could have sworn it sounded like water flowing. Well, it’s time for another water check, anyway.

(John looks forward to hearing from you on this subject. Send me a note at john.bulletin@gmail.com. You can even send an old-fashioned letter to: The Bulletin, P.O. Box 2426, Angleton, TX. 77516.)