Being stewards of these 100 year old buildings is a challenge. We have similar troubleshooting procedures in place to a technical help line. Our guests or housekeepers alert us to a problem. Our innkeepers are the first line of defense. They know the idiosyncrasies of each unit and can fix a tripped GFI, change out a light bulb, reset the thermostat on a hot tub, or plunge a toilet.
If all else fails, we call Dave. Usually with volt meter or hammer in hand, he can coax the dishwasher back to life or switch out a faulty breaker. When we exhaust Dave’s expertise and ingenuity, we call Brett. He is on speed dial and is usually at our door anytime of the day or night before we even hang up the phone.
These calls usually have to do with the scary stuff – the sump pump that fails to turn on during a driving rain causing overflow capacity in the drainage pond and threatens to flood out the lower Tucker House; or the roof that lost a patch of shingles in a wind storm and has begun to leak, or the water heater seal that failed causing a leak to the ceiling below.
A few weeks ago we had a clogged main sewer line. We called Brett as soon as we discovered it. Brett quickly ran to get the rental snake as the shop was closing for the night. Unfortunately, it was a temporary fix. Brett wasn’t able to attack the problem the next morning as he had to report for jury duty. We had an inn full of guests arriving. In desperation, I called Terry, the contractor who is renovating our house. He graciously stopped work on another project to meet us at the Inn to see how he could help. The Town of Friday Harbor even sent one of their crew equipped with a camera so we could see what was going on inside the line as there was a chance it was on the Town’s side.
As fate would have it, the clog was on our side of the line. Snaking wasn’t an option. The line needed to be replaced. Terry and his crew, hand dug so they could carefully insert the new pipe with as little damage to the building or surrounding earth as possible. They were minutes away from reattaching the new pipe moments before check-in when the old pipe collapsed. Terry and his crew were demoralized. Luckily for us the guests that were arriving were on the late boat. So with a bit more digging, they found a place to splice the new pipe into the existing line. Terry and his crew finished just in time to welcome our guests. Terry proactively installed a shiny new clean out in the event of any future problems.
Who would have thought that two weeks later that clean out would have saved the historic Tucker House? The Town of Friday Harbor was working on a sewer replacement project on the main line that the Tucker House feeds into. On Friday morning of Memorial Day weekend, their project ran into some unforeseen problems that caused a major back-up. Yes Houston we had a big problem on our hands. And without all the gory details, I share with you the silver lining:
Thanks to the guests that were staying in the cottage that alerted us to the problem.
….and thanks to Dave’s quick thinking to use the new clean out to release the building pressure.
…and thanks to the Town of Friday Harbor crews who did yeoman’s work to quickly restore our property.
…and thanks to Terry’s forethought for installing the clean out.
….and thanks to our housekeepers and innkeepers for getting the suites and cottages ready for our guests.
Yes it takes a village.
Despite our vigilance and proactive maintenance, with the 22 bathrooms, 12 kitchens, and four laundry rooms housed in these four 100 year old structures, something is bound to fail and fail it does. We are extremely grateful to everyone who assists us in the stewardship of these buildings. Each day the curtain lifts at 4 p.m. for check-in. We greet our guests to the Tucker House Inn and Harrison House Suites with a smile as if nothing unusual happened prior to their arrival.