The trajectory of my Friday afternoon changed when I got a text message, along with the photo (right) that read:
Ari stuck a ball in here when I wasn’t looking and I can’t see it.
I didn’t know what that pipe was for, but I knew — from having looked at it before — that it said DO NOT BLOCK.
I sent Marc to assess the situation while I sent a photo of the pipe to my Dad. My father didn’t text me back. He called me to report it was the intake valve for our HVAC and/or hot water. He implored me to turn off the hot water heater and the HVAC system. Marc called our builder to see what he suggested. Once he advised us to have someone come out to look at our HVAC system, I realized we were in for a hefty bill.
I got to work calling the HVAC company we contract with while Marc began turning off the HVAC and hot water.
When the woman at the HVAC company asked me to describe what I could see and what kind of ball went down the tube, I informed her I wasn’t the one out in the backyard with my son since I was upstairs with my feet up due to a tough PT session as a result of my foot surgery recovery. I’m not sure if the woman took pity on me because of the foot surgery or because it was 82 degrees, but she made sure someone was at our house in less than an hour.
The technician must have used a scope to look through the pipe since he located the ball quickly. After going out to his truck, he came back and cut the pipe open so that he could get the ball. I have no idea how he reattached the pipe, but he was finished ten minutes later.
By this point, I was downstairs preparing the side dish for dinner. After the technician explained how to prevent this situation from happening again (i.e., buying a valve protector), he turned and walked to the door.
“Are you going to send us a bill or should we pay you today?”
He turned around and said, “As I told your husband, I’m not going to charge you.”
I believe my mouth dropped open at this point. He continued, “You already pay a monthly service contract fee, which means there’s no service charge for today’s visit. And, honestly, it took me five to ten minutes to get the ball out once I found it. Seeing what’s going on in today’s world, I don’t want to add any more stress to your lives by charging you.”
I was stunned. He came to our house — quickly — and rescued us. (TRUTH: I had visions of something catching fire between the time the ball went into the pipe and the time Marc turned everything off. Granted, it was ten to 15 minutes, but a lot can happen in 15 minutes!) And he wasn’t charging us a penny. I was amazed. I was sure to fill out the survey that HVAC company sent so I could give the technician 10/10 ratings + positive written feedback.
During dinner, and into Saturday, we made sure Ari was clear that NOTHING was to be shoved, dropped, pushed, or forced into any opening (e.g., pipe, vent, toilet) in the house. We felt it was important to go beyond just saying, “Don’t put a ball into that pipe again,” since Isabelle once flushed a plastic doll comb down the toilet when she was three-years-old. That was a much costlier error, which led to plumbing and water mitigation. But that’s another story!