Thursday, September 30, 2010
Water Flows Directly Through My Wallet
I went to the door and this kid is standing there. I have noticed since reaching my present age that all the maintenance people who come to service something are kids.
But he is pleasant enough. He slips these booties over his shoes and comes in to see what is to be done.
Well, of course there is that unstoppable faucet in the bathroom and the new vanity, sink and hardware to be installed. There is also a faucet on the outside front of the house that has been dripping for the last eight months or so. My wife figured we should get that replaced as well. And there is the bathtub faucet that seems to be developing its own slow drip. I figure the tub could use a new shower head, too.
He takes a look at the tub faucet. It is a Delta. He doesn't take kindly to the Delta. "It's a good faucet," he says, "but the design is terrible."
He explains how it has three little pipes that connect inside. There is a giant nut behind the knob. The danger is with the faucet having some age now that when the nut is turned it will twist and break the pipes. Then you have a bigger repair.
He examines the sink faucet and agrees it is shot.
We walk outside and look at the leaky faucet.
So after this little tour we go to the kitchen and he begins flipping pages in a book. All jobs are priced up front, no hourly rates, no guesswork. So he tells me the costs and one thing is immediately clear, the tub can wait until another day or a worse leak. Not only is he nervous about snapping pipes removing the Delta, the quote to replace it with a Moan and replace the shower and all is a bit steep for me right now.
We sign the agreements, which includes a three-day change your mind agreement like they always give you when you borrow money or get a mortgage. Seems kind of silly, although with what plumbing work costs maybe one does need a mortgage. Still, he is going to do the work right now, this instant before the ink dries so what happens if I change my mind in the next three days? Do they come back and unrepair the repairs?
"We'll start with the bathroom sink," he says.
He goes into the hall and looks the vanity over. He is making hmmm-hmmm sounds. I never like to hear hmmm-hmmm sounds coming from the throat of anyone doing work for me. They're not a cat, they're not purring. (I don't think they are purring. Perhaps considering how much I will be paying them, they are purring.)
Here is the reason for the hmmm-hmmms. Our old vanity, the one being replaced, is 20 inches wide. This new model, with the two drawers down the right side that my wife likes so much, is 24 and with the new sink added will be 25 inches wide. He is concerned the drain pipe will not line up, especially with the drawers taking up half the space.
Oh, boy, I did all this measurement to make sure the thing would fit in our small bath, but never considered the drain pipe perplexity. I had considered the water feed lines lining up given the four inch differential, but having looked in the old vanity and seen those feed lines had flexible pipe I figured it didn't matter. I didn't think the drain would be somehow a different matter.
He does some measuring and then says he may have to cut some off of the drawers, is that all right. Yeah, fine, I don't care cause I don't want to take this thing back and reschedule. (As it turned out he didn't have to cut. He got everything fitted in nicely, if tightly.)
We dodged that bullet and he installed the vanity and sink.
Now we are left with replacing the outside drippy faucet. This should be a piece of cake, I thought. Ha, what a fool I am.
First was the matter of how this would be accomplished. In my naivete I thought the faucet would simply twist off the pipe similar to unscrewing a lightbulb, except maybe with some cutting and soldering involved. Well, cutting and soldering probably was involved, but the faucet could not be removed and replaced from the outside of the house. The pipe had to be worked from the interior of the home.
Second we had to locate this interior pipe. When they built this house they did not make such things as pipe easily accessible. Every time I ever had to get plumping done it resulted in cutting holes in walls or ceilings. This was no different. The pipe ran between walls and would have to be reached by cutting a hole in the back of the entryway closet.
"We don't patch drywall," says the technician.
Yeah, I know, I've heard that several times. Why plumbers are so handy doing a lot of more complicated stuff, but can't patch walls and ceilings they chop up I do not know. It must be a union thing.
Third, he asks where the shut off valve is. Ha, there's the rub. If there was a shut off valve and I knew where it was, that faucet wouldn't have dripped for eight months. Everything else in the place has a shutoff valve. The sinks do. The outside faucet in the rear of the house has one right in the laundry room above the shut off valve for the water heater. It is a big red lever. You can't miss it.
We begin a search, but as stated, everything is behind walls and ceilings. We can't even be sure how this pipe meanders about. We get a flashlight and enter the storage shed downstairs, which runs back under the stairs. This is a dark, sometimes low, full of stuff, little room where the main shut off valve is. We search. He sees the pipe that has to be that outside faucet running into the main system, but doesn't spot any shut off valve. So the whole system has to be shut down.
Now it is time for action. There should be nothing more standing in the way, right?