15 March 2013

Plumbing and Me

Welcome back. I knew something had to happen. After all, it is my new home. When this started long ago, I thought it was just bad luck. I learned it’s much more. It’s hard to believe, but I have a plumbing curse.

It’s not like electricity, which I fear and find unfathomable. Plumbing doesn’t frighten me. I mean you can look at it and know what’s supposed to happen--water in, water out. For me, though, the water often comes out when and where it’s supposed to stay in. Or it doesn’t go anywhere. Or, to really test me, it goes everywhere.

Early Encounters

You may recall an earlier blog post, House Sound Check, in which I blamed dripping valves and faucets as well as a kitchen geyser on the house hating me. That attribution was true, yet the overriding cause was the curse.

In that same post, I also wrote about the basement of another house flooding whenever rain was forecast. When the Roto-Rooter serviceman tried unsuccessfully to snake the basement drain, he concluded that we had a clogged French drain (gravel rather than a pipe). He recommended a sump pump.

If that were the end of it, I too would scoff at the idea of a curse. (I know you’re scoffing.) The first rainfall after a sump pump was installed, other areas of the basement flooded. Although we added a second sump pump, it was always touch and go.

I’ll skip over a failed shower drain seal, faucet leaks and the usual plumbing problems homeowners deal with, albeit less frequently than I did. I’ll even bypass our son’s scissors episode, which required a fiber optic probe of the toilet drain. Fast forward to our recent move.

Plumbing for House Sale

The house we left has three and a half bathrooms, each of which had well-functioning though visibly well-used faucets. In my spruce-up- the-house-before sale spree, I thought, Why not replace the faucets?

Hearing no negative response, I scheduled a highly recommended plumber who suggested that I buy the faucets myself. Searching online, I found excellent faucets with solid brass bottoms, and I bought four units.

In his 30 years of installing faucets, the plumber had never encountered a faucet base too short to reach through the counter tops to connect with the locknuts--the curse.

My New Home

This brings me to our Wisconsin garage apartment, built as a barn well over 100 years ago. Though I accepted that our faucets must be connected with plumbing somewhere, I would not have had the close encounter if Vicki hadn’t mentioned an old clothes washer and dryer downstairs, whose slightly overflowing floor drain Nelson had checked.

Pipes in the first floor “laundry room.”
I had never met Nelson but she assured me that he understands these old structures and their plumbing and electrical systems.

If it weren’t for the windows, the “laundry” room could pass for the boiler room of the old ship, where the crusty engineer vows, “I don’t know how, Captain, but I’ll get it going.” Rusted pipes, dials, large tanks, gurgling drain… it’s all there, along with large farm equipment and the hardtop of an old convertible.

The clothes washer has no control for load size or water temperature (as if I needed controls); and though the drain overflowed, it was mainly soap suds. The dryer has lots of controls and it worked fine.

Wrap Up

Transferring the laundered clothes to a basket, I was brought back to reality. I noticed dripping from the ceiling. Once I had narrowed the source of the leak to a toilet, I relaxed. I felt wanted but protected. “Yes, Curse, I’m here!” I shouted. “But so is Nelson.”

Thanks for stopping by.

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