Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Plumbing Wars - Part II

Here’s a follow up to the below post.

I asked my sister Christine for recommendations of plumbers she has used in the past. She gave me three, including Jesus Is Lord Plumbing.

I really wanted to call them. I figured religious people have to be honest, right? But I called plumbers on January 15 – the holiday celebrating Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday so they were closed.

The plumber I did call came this morning. (I’ve been turning off the water at the source since Sunday afternoon. It’s really a pain in the ass to go out to my front lawn in boxers, a t-shirt and a robe at 6:00 in the morning to turn a valve.)

He had to knock part of the tile surrounding the bathtub to get to the leak. See the picture.

I did watch him as he worked to see if I could have done what he was doing. After he started blowtorching the pipes, I realized that I had made the right decision in calling a professional.

Here’s the email exchange my sister and I had today about this.

CHRISTINE: Hope your pipes are no longer leaky…
ME: I now have a big hole in my bathtub wall. They had to knock out the tile to get to the pipes.
ME TO PLUMBER: “So, are you going to replace those tiles?”
PLUMBER: “Oh, no. We don’t do that.”
CHRISTINE: You have got to be kidding. That is so mf’d up!! There must be another way. At least you don’t have a leak. I guess that’s the bright spot.
ME: That was the first thing I asked – if there was another way. Apparently, the leak was very far back and they had to replace pipes that could only be gotten to through the wall. I could have gone the way that I do whenever I buy a car – feeling like a sucker. But I just made my peace with it early on and trusted them.
CHRISTINE: I spend a lot of my life feeling like a sucker, too. They say we inherit the earth, but I’m not so sure that “they” are right! Glad you made peace. In a way, it’s a good feeling to know you now have new pipes. You could live in that house another 100 years before you have to do that again.

My sister, 13 months younger than I am, has always acted like an older sister and looks out for me. Thank you, Christine!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Plumbing Wars

Timeline -

About Six Months Ago: A small drip from my bathtub faucet begins.

About Three Months Ago: The small drip becomes a larger drip. I make a mental note to call a plumber.

About Two Months Ago: The larger drip becomes an even larger drip. I write myself a note to ask my cousin’s husband, a plumber, to come by and fix my problem.

About One Month Ago: Having lost the original note and procrastinated enough, I write myself a larger note. The larger drip is now a small flow.

One Week Ago: I see my cousin’s husband at a wedding, and ask him if he would look at my bathtub faucet. He says to call him next week.

Thursday, January 11, 2007: I decide to tackle the problem myself instead of calling a professional. I Google “bathtub faucet leak” and come up with some good websites.

Saturday, January 13, 2007
11:00 am – I go to Home Depot with my printed out instructions and look for tools. I buy $35.00 worth of tools.

Noon – I can’t complete Step One of the “easy to follow” instructions that I had printed out because I have no idea where the water shut off valve for the house is. After turning every potential knob in the house, I call my sister, the former owner of my house.

12:10 pm – Christine tells me that the water shut off valve is under a grate in the front lawn. She says that she has a special tool that will turn the valve off.

12:15 pm – I drive the half block to my sister’s house to pick up the tool. She tells me that the valve is very hard to turn.

12:20 pm – I discover she is right.

12:22 pm – I give up and take a break to smoke a cigarette.

12:25 pm – I think that loosening the valve will help. I don’t have anything that will potentially work except maybe vinegar. After putting on some gloves and pouring vinegar on the valve, I try again.

12:26 pm – The valve turns! The water is now shut off.

12:58 pm – After struggling with Step Two, I realize that all I have to do is turn the bathtub knobs for them to come off. I put the $35.00 worth of tools aside, unused.

1:27 pm – Figuring out that I need more tools for Step Three that I don’t have, Carlos and I go to the local hardware store.

1:40 pm – I put the $28.02 receipt in my pocket as we head back to my house.

1:47 pm – I realize that I didn’t buy one tool that I need to tackle Step Three. I decide that Step Three can be skipped, hoping that the problem can be fixed by changing out the O-rings – Step Two.

1:54 pm – Carlos gets into bed to take a nap, having watched me curse at the bathtub problem for long enough.

2:03 pm – I return to the local hardware store with a sample of the O-rings I need, buying four new ones.

2:10 pm – The O rings don’t seem to fit correctly so I force them in, breaking one of them. Since I need two for the hot water faucet and two for the cold, I don’t have any extras. I use one of the old O-rings. I reassemble the faucets.

2:28 pm – I turn the water to the house back on, hoping I have fixed the leak. Carlos monitors the bathtub.

2:29 pm – Carlos’s face reveals all: The leak is worse than before I started this project. I close the bathroom door so I don’t get more aggravated about the now heavily flowing water and call my cousin. She says that her husband is off fishing, but will call me in an hour.

11:00 pm – My cousin’s husband never calls. I go to sleep.

Sunday, January 14, 2007
12:30 pm – I go back to Home Depot, returning the $35.00 worth of unused tools. I buy an entire pack of O-rings.

1:15 pm – I undo all that I did yesterday.

1:30 pm – The instructions say that I need plumber’s grease. I didn’t see that at Home Depot so decide to use either olive oil or Pam. Testing both, Pam seems to work the best at lubricating the O-rings.

2:00 pm – I reassemble everything and hope for the best. I turn the water to the house back on.

2:02 pm – The water is flowing as much as earlier this morning, if not more. I call my sister to ask her which plumber she uses. I write myself a note to call the plumber in the morning.

2:03 pm – I cross off my personal To Do list the following: install new gutters, patch roof, paint house, and fix leak in front of house. Next time, I’ll call a professional first!