Craziest Homeowner Holiday Disaster Stories III
From floods on Christmas morning to fireplace mishaps, here are your worst holiday disasters—and a few how-tos to help you fix them
For this installment of Holiday Home Disasters, we've gathered Facebook fodder to serve as cautionary tales. From bursting pipes to spider mite-infested Christmas trees, here are the terrifying tales of your fellow DIYers, who made the mistakes once so you won't have to. Look for related how-to links on every slide, and you just might arm yourself with the know-how to save the day in the event of your very own holiday emergency.
"We tried to do a cheap and quick update to our bathroom by taking down the ugly wallpaper and re-painting the trim. Unfortunately, we didn't clean the surfaces well enough and should have replaced all of the drywall first. You can probably guess what happened within a year: Every wall is now peeling and paint came off parts of the trim. It's an ugly mess. Lesson learned! No more shortcuts!"
"We got a great deal (read: old house, fixer upper) in a great neighborhood. Two bedrooms upstairs for our boys; the biggest one had paneling. We figured we could just remove it and paint the drywall. That was a big joke because there were five layers of wallpaper that had been glued and baked on over the course of 65 years. We tried to strip it but ended up damaging the drywall so badly we gutted it with the intention of bumping back the kneewalls. That was 26 months ago. Our youngest son sleeps in my husband's 'future' office and my hubby works in our fabulous dining room."
"'Twas the night before our firstborn college freshman was to return home for the holidays! We were so excited, especially me! The Christmas tree was up and decorated in the downstairs family room, the gifts placed carefully under the tree, just in time for his expected homecoming the next day. Early in the morning, my husband headed downstairs to the family room and I heard "Oh no!" (or maybe an expletive), and I thought he must have stubbed his toe! Wrong! As I peeked down the stairway I saw him standing in water! The hose that leads to the outside of the house from the water treatment canister had frozen solid and it had backed up into the house. We now had a flood on the tile floor and carpeted area, creeping towards the gifts! Instead of coming home to a peacful welcoming scene, upon arrival, my son had to help rip out damaged carpet, sodden padding, and anything else that got destroyed! I don't know how I survived the stress of it all! The room remained torn apart until just this past fall, when we replaced the entire floor with engineered wood. Looking forward to a disaster-free holiday season!"
"The first year we were married, we rented an old house. That Christmas we had our first real tree, but because there was no insulation or gravity heat, we used a kerosene heater. The heater made the living room so warm that it made the sap flow and a ton of disgusting gnats came out."
"We bought a fresh-cut tree for Christmas. After decorating it, it quit taking up water and the needles started falling off. We removed all decor, took it back, and got another tree. Redecorated. All was well. Got all the packages under it and a few days later started to notice webs. The tree was full of spider mites. We then saw that all the packages were dotted with spider mite poop. We rewrapped a hundred gifts, undecorated the tree again, and returned tree #2 along with it's nasty bugs. Finally, we just picked up a $200 artificial tree. Never again will I bring a real tree into my house. Worst holiday season ever!"
"We'd just arrived back home from buying our first Christmas tree and we heard a loud bang. Then the eerie sound of water gushing was followed by the sight and sound of water pouring from our ceiling. Our water heater had ruptured and the drain of the overflow pan was clogged. Being a young, new homeowner, I couldn't find the valve to stop the water. I ended up going outside digging around to find the main water line valve for the house while water poured all over our wood floors, walls, furniture, and electronics. After things had settled, I remembered to unclog the overflow pan and that's when I noticed the cutoff valve at the water heater! What a way to learn a lesson!"
"We'd spent three weeks in our new home. I was 6 at the time. My parents were having 30 or so people over for a Hannukah dinner and my mom noticed some water spots on the ceiling above the front entry foyer. She sent my dad up into the attic to see if there were any noticeable leaks. Apparently my dad didn't understand the concept of walking on the rafters and not the drywall. He took two steps into the attic and his leg came right through the ceiling. He was OK but nothing could be done about the giant hole in time for the party, so my mom did the next best thing. She took one of my dad's shoes and traced around it on the ceiling with the words 'Herbie was here.'"
"I bought my little cabin in the summer of 1999. Windows were broken by bullet holes, there was no working toilet, a bedroom with a hole in the ceiling, and glowing mold. Perfect for myself and two kids right? On our first Thanksgiving, I spent seven hours trying to get the toilet to flush. The hillside behind the house was spouting rain-fed springs right and left. I finally realized there was no air flow, picked up a rock and busted a vent in the sewer pipe under the house. But wait, there's more. We capped it all off with a truly frightening Turkey Day dinner at a local truck stop (the only place that was open). My son and I ordered guacamole burgers and were sick for days. Now that was a Thanksgiving for the memory books!"
"Went over to help my elderly mother decorate her tree. With Bing Crosby singing in the background, I started a fire in the fireplace to set the mood. Unfortunately I read the instructions incorrectly to open the flue and actually closed it. Ended up starting a fire that rapidly raged up the front of the fireplace. The alarms were blaring when I managed to throw a bucket of water into the firebox and put out the flames. We spent the remainder of the day repainting the fireplace. We both cried as we worked. We never had the chance to repeat the intended event, but I was thankful I did not burn down her house that day!"
"One year before leaving for a six day Christmas vacation my first wife and I decided to leave the water trickling to avoid our pipes freezing, just in case of a cold snap. Sure enough, we had a weekend of single digit weather, but we forgot to leave the heat on. So instead of the pipes freezing, the drain in the kitchen sink froze, and the trickling water overflowed onto the floor into the dining room, out to the patio, also the hallway, the living room, and met us at the door. Happy New Year!"
"We had a large sucker fish as a pet named Big Sucky. Despite my objections, when Big Sucky passed away, my husband decided to dispose of it by flushing it down the toilet. Needless to say, Big Sucky became stuck somewhere in the drain. After failed plunging attempts, hubby bought a toilet snake. No dice and the toilet bowl was now heavily scratched. He ended up removing the toilet entirely and snaked the drain through the floor. Success! He fished out (ha!) a clog of Big Sucky and other debris by hand. Needless to say, this was not our first toilet clog. We bought a new toilet with a really large flush capacity and have had no problems since. But, now, whenever something goes terribly wrong, we like to say, 'Well, THAT flushed the Big Sucky.' "
"My mom decided to have a big country Christmas at her house in Ohio. We were all in the game room while mom finished off her table display with a centerpiece and candles. Well, she came to tell us dinner was ready and when we got there there was thick, black smoke. The centerpiece caught on fire and took all of the food with it. We were throwing stuff out the back door. Now we just laugh about it!"
"Oh, where to begin! The so-called professional I hired to fix my home stated he was knowledgeable in electricity and could take care of some wiring issues I had. After he was through, my power would sporadically go out. My sister knew a master electrician and he came to take another look before I got my holiday lights up for the season and the actual pro found that the other guy had severed the cables from my main electrical box to the outside meter; he said he was surprised that I was still alive and my house was still standing."
"Many, many, many years ago when I was a kid, my dad fell down the attic stairs carrying all the Christmas ornaments. About 70 percent of the ornaments broke. Fortunately, Dad didn't break. In those days, the tree was decorated on Christmas Eve by Santa, so there were no stores open to buy new ornaments. We had a very bare tree that year with lots of tinsel and cookies that my Mom quick-baked and iced and put holes in so that they could be hung. Cookies on the tree became a family tradition after that."
"We had 50 of our closest relatives coming over for christmas, and my wife decided she wanted to redo the kitchen: new ceiling, walls, painting cupboards and...new granite countertops. I was too cheap to pay for an installer. You would think, as I head toward my middle 50s, that I would have figured out the things I am or am not capable of doing. Well, I haven't.
"I found a real deal on two eight foot pieces of granite at a local bargain store for the counters. Sure, they needed to be cut down to fit, but at such a discount, I assured my wife, we could afford to buy a few specialty tools. 'Do you know how to cut holes in granite?,' she asked. 'Sure, I watched several videos on thisoldhouse.com and that pretty much makes me an expert! Besides, how hard could it be?' was my reply.
"To make a long story short, we did get the countertop in, but I have three friends that won't even pick up the phone when I call. Everyone at the holiday gathering loved the new countertop, although the paint on the upper cabinets was still wet and the lights to the kitchen were hardwired without a switch. But, hey! It got done. Kind of."
"I was a first-time homeowner at the ripe old age of 57, so I keep renewing the home warranty that the former owner offered me for the first year. It's a good thing I did because I woke up one Christmas morning to hear an unusual sound in the basement that I just couldn't identify. Heading down there about 7 AM, I found that sometime through the night, the old sump pump had died and left me a couple of inches of cold water on the floor! It was old and needed replacing, but on Christmas Day? Like I said, luckily I kept the home warranty current! A $100 deductible on my part, and the company paid for the replacement part and plumber to come out on Christmas Day! I still keep the warranty policy up-to-date, of course!"