Water pipes are not to be trifled with.

As the lady on the phone explained to me last week, at some point on Jan. 10 over 40,000 gallons of water poured into my little college house, raising the basement sea level at least an inch, and slapping me and my fellow res­i­dents – all men of great char­acter and poor finances – with a bill the size of an iPhone repair (or a rusty pickup if that’s more your thing).

Because I’m ter­rible at reading people, I didn’t realize until the end of our con­ver­sation that the Hillsdale Board of Public Util­ities employee was patiently waiting for me to explain whether the basement had drains. It turns out that while water itself is expensive, those holes in the ground are where the util­ities bill actually soaks up pay­checks. As the house was built cen­turies ago with no basement drains, it had simply shoved 40,000 gallons of water into the ground, earning itself a senior dis­count on the drainage bill.

To review, it all begins with the furnace. A clogged furnace filter inad­ver­tently let several pipes and a toilet tank freeze, resulting in the largest BPU baptism this year. For­tu­nately for me, it hap­pened at the dear old West Bank, my humble abode across from the local radio station. Had this incident occurred instead at one of the neigh­boring res­i­dences, I might not have had the priv­ilege of anx­iously sitting in my living room while a few plumbers solemnly carried the remains of the veteran toilet out the door.

When in college, one does not con­sider that every appliance in the house is primed to destroy its peers before they get the chance. Since stu­dents began living in it, the West Bank has been the site of a home appliance battle royale. Last semester the toilet, may it rest in peace, attempted to drown the washing machine with its own drainage pipe. My clothes, and all parties involved, haven’t been the same since.

Appar­ently, there’s a gadget that pre­vents home­owners’ hair and bad breath from hurting their fur­naces. When this thing becomes clogged, the little heat factory in the basement can’t keep winter from going bull-in-a-china-shop on the helpless water pipes. A filter con­structed from cotton paper has the power to destroy every­thing plumbers hold dear.

The most frus­trating part of this incident is that it isn’t unique. At least two other houses expe­ri­enced similar problems over winter break. Because they have not dis­closed the depth or volume of their respective pipe explo­sions, we must con­clude that the West Bank was at one point the only man-made basement waterpark in the city of Hillsdale. With the recent flooding, the nat­u­rally-occurring cat­egory is sure to have some out­standing entrants.

Since I have yet to break my nose and regain my sense of smell this year, I can neither confirm nor deny that my basement is now a thriving mold colony.

In times like these, as winter begins to wrap up, it’s important to keep a close eye on any­thing with pipes coming out of it. Leave no leaky sink unin­spected. Let no random basement pipe go unchecked. And, most of all, do not assume the furnace is “taking a break” or “just doesn’t work in that room.”

If columns like these are any indi­cator, Spring Break is going to be brutal.

Joe Pap­palardo is a senior studying mar­keting.