Monday, December 12, 2016

The House Has Ideas

Last week I mentioned that the house and I celebrated our ten-year anniversary and that I thought skipping through the house randomly declaring my love was a fine gift indeed.

Apparently the house had other ideas.

She's been cranky for six months or so, during which she's given me increasingly low water pressure, but I've put up with it because I love her so much don't have any money.  Last week, probably in a fit of pique over my failure to get her a nice anniversary present, the old girl just gave up entirely.  Only a trickle of water came out of any faucet in the house, and most of the water flow was due more to simple gravity than anything else. 

This was a standoff I was not going to win.  I called a plumber.

He made several educated guesses as to how to fix the problem, with those guesses having varying degrees of expense and inconvenience.

Plumber: "Maybe it's a faulty water meter and the city will have to replace that."

Me: "So that would be free? I'll hope it's that. Oh, I hope it's that. Wait. Maybe I shouldn't get my hopes up too much."

Plumber: "Don't you dare get your hopes up." 

It wasn't that. Of course it wasn't that. Dammit. 

We traveled down to the basement via the trap door in the laundry room floor, a situation he was hilariously horrified by. 

There, he cut through the main water line just to the side of the water heater, on the theory that there's a blockage somewhere in the line. Pressurized water spewed out. "The blockage is someplace in this galvanized shit then," he said, pointing to the labyrinth of pipes branching off the water heater. For a number of years around World War II, the Kelly House was divided into at least two, maybe three, apartments and plumbed haphazardly. If you recall the old Pipes screensaver, that's pretty much what it looks like in my basement. 

He took apart the valve connected to the water heater, said "Oh shit" and handed me this piece of pipe.

Oh shit, indeed. That's rust and corrosion. 

Here's my arty shot of another piece of pipe to show y'all how restricted the water flow is. 

He called in his boss to marvel at the awfulness of it and the three of us had a terrifying conversation about how to fix it that involves a sum of money roughly equal to two of my paychecks. 

Then, this: "We can't come back to fix it until Monday at least because we have a big job already scheduled." (This was said on Wednesday afternoon.)

Me: "What the fu--hell?! You can't just leave me with no water at all for four days!" Even the very tiny trickle of water I started out with is better than no water at all. 

Boss Plumber: "Oh, we'll rig up something for you." 

Behold the rig. 

A Sharkbite with an On/Off lever screwed into the water line, with a white plastic tube sticking out of the other end of the Sharkbite, and....

...the white tube attached to a garden hose which snakes up the steps, across the laundry room floor, and into the bathroom shower. Note that this contraption bypasses the water heater, so I have no hot water.

Ask me how I flush the toilet. You know you want to know. I round up the animals, lock them in the bedroom, crank open the basement trap door, turn on the water downstairs, run back upstairs, turn on the nozzle on the end of the garden hose and fill up the toilet tank and a bucket, turn the hose off, run back downstairs and shut the water off, crank down the trap door, release the furbabies from imprisonment, then flush the toilet. So. Much. Fun. I go to the bathroom at the gas station more often than not, to avoid all that. I'm taking showers at my mom's house.

But wait--there's more!

Somehow in my distress over this whole thing, I failed at the outset to ask the plumber if I could make payments. He says I cannot, so he's not coming back. Whoops.

Also, I am an idiot. Just catty-cornered from my house lives a perfectly nice man who owns a hardware store and home improvement company. I've done business with this man for years. I know him to be trustworthy and capable. And yet, I failed to think of him at the beginning of this plumbing crisis. In fact, it wasn't until he commented "We offer financing options for these unexpected expenses" on my Facebook post that I thought of him at all. Dumb. I am dumb sometimes.

We're meeting this afternoon to talk about all this and hopefully come to an agreement on how he'll fix it and how I'll pay him.

At this point, I can almost hear the house cackling. She's going to get some nice new plumbing as a fabulous (albeit belated) anniversary gift.


  1. Ah yes, my house had this idea last summer too. $1800 and a lot of Pex pipe later, I now have water pressure again. OUCH! But it will be totally worth it to get rid of that galvanized junk, I assure you. Hope you get it fixed soon.

  2. Oh my! Hoses and sharkbites are what we rigged up when we bought our house, I can't even imagine my reaction if my house inflicted that upon me after so many years of hard work! Best of luck for a laughably low Christmas miracle quote ;-)

  3. Thank goodness for the hardware store guy. That is a piece of luck.

    Access to under my house is by a trapdoor in a closet. It gives me the creeping horrors every time I have to use it.

    I forget if there is a bathtub. Could you fill that up and scoop a bucketful of water out of it for the toilet and so save some trips to the basement?

    I got really good at sponge baths when I trashed my knees and hip. I think if you heat water on the stove for that, that would work. Not much water is needed.

    1. Also, remembering from a drought, it's gross, but no need to flush each time if it's just #1. Keep the lid down and the bathroom door closed in between :-(

  4. Good to see a post from you again, but unfortunate it's about such a frustrating issue. I hope you have a good experience getting it replaced with your trusted neighbor, and in the meantime, good luck with barely available cold water! Yikes!

  5. Oh dear lord. Anything that requires "marveling at the awfulness of it" by professionals....I can't even. I'm sorry.