Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Of all the jobs in owning a house, the one I always liked the least was plumbing. Now that we own again, that feeling has been compounded. This house has two bathrooms, one upstairs and one downstairs, so that means twice as many chances for plumbing to go wrong—and sure enough, it did.

When we moved in, both tub faucets leaked, the hot water supply line leaked on the downstairs faucet, as did the cold water handle. No problem, usually! Just replace the cartridges in the faucets and put on a new supply line. Right! The upstairs tub faucet was so corroded that in removing the cartridge cover, the copper supply lines bent and cracked. Ouch—time for a new faucet. Well, that would be easy if the access door had been intelligently placed, which it wasn't. I was working at a 90 degree angle with CPVC piping, and the old faucet had to be chiseled out, since they didn't use the correct spacer on the back, but put fiberglass resin around it in the front to build it up. I got it all done in a day and it works well. Since we aren't using the downstairs tub, I just capped it for now.

The downstairs faucet was another story. The supply line was so corroded that I had to take the sink off the wall in order to get enough torque on it. But, it finally came off and I was able to replace it. The cold was a different story. It, too, was heavily corroded. So heavily corroded that I ended up having to just replace the whole fixture :( But, hey, that's part of owning, right?

So, both bathrooms are fixed and working. Now for hooking up the washer...R-i-g-h-t! I don't know who plumbed the basement, but it wasn't a plumber! The supply line to the hot water heat boiler was a copper line that just kind of curled over the doorway about 2-3 feet away from the wall, extending into the doorway on the left side about a foot with an icemaker tube coming off of that. Of course, the tubing was just floating freely in the air at about the correct height to strangle the unsuspecting person. On the other side, there was a plastic line that came off the main feed from the water softener and careened up into the floor joists before connecting to the kitchen supply line. Next to that was a line that fed everything else in the house, except the washer. The washer supply consisted of 2 faucets, one on each side of the basement dividing wall, with an extra 3 inches of pipe so that it extended into the other room. This was stabilized, if you can call it that, by winding a coat hanger around it and the hot water supply.

The hot water supply was in the form of copper tubing that snaked around the basement ceiling just below the floor joists for about 10 feet. There was no strapping on any of it. And, all four of the washer faucets leaked, a lot. Weekend project: clean up the plumbing in the basement, but AAR/SBL intervened first.

Afer AAR/SBL, both Ryan (our son) and Joel (our son-in-law) agreed to help me fix the mess. Now, bear in mind that none of us are plumbers. Joel is a carpenter, Ryan is an IT guy, and I'm a bookseller who has worked as a handyman throughout my varied career :) We put up the replacement lines on Friday, figuring to cut the old lines out and the new ones in on Saturday. We figured it would be about a 1 hour job. Hah! Were we ever wrong! Three hours and two trips to the hardware store later, it was done.

By now, I am sick of plumbing and don't want to even think about it for a while. Guess what? I come back upstairs, and Debbie shows me the cabinet under the kitchen sink. Yep, water, significant amounts, leaking from the drain and the faucet. That will wait until after Joel, Renee and the grandkids leave! Ryan and I will tackle it.

So, Sunday evening we began. We loosened the faucet and put plumbers putty under it. That was easy and stopped the leaking from it; the source of water from it had only been runoff from the sink itself. Now for the drain. Hmmm. No metal washer between the rubber gasket and the washer, which had caused the rubber gasket to come loose and allow the drain to leak. No problem...except that the drain had become so corroded and rusty that it took about 1/2 hour to get it loose. Talk about prayer! I certainly didn't want to have to replace the whole sink! OK, I admit it, I didn't start out praying, but I should have. I thought I knew what I was doing and didn't need God. Talk about a dichotomy! Anyway, Debbie, ever the observant one, said, "Why don't you pray?" Mumble, mumble, grumble, grumble...OK. "Lord, make this drain come loose. Thanks." Real spiritual prayer, right? 45 Seconds later, it came loose! I know, sounds trivial, but our God is in the trivial—and the big.

This is getting long, but we managed to clean everything up nicely, but by then everything was closed, so we had no kitchen sink until last night, when I was able to get the parts and put it back together again.

That only leaves one bathroom fixture and the two toilets that I haven't had to do any plumbing on...Please, Lord, no.

Now do you see why I dislike plumbing?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love your story because I dislike plumbing problems as much as you do. I have just one experience to relate that will make you feel MUCH better: at least you don't have a toilet on a remote island in Alaska, but no running water. No one else in the family wants to carry water in buckets to flush the toilet, so it gets backed up. Then you have to haul the water to deal with the toilet and the overflow on the floor.