Sunday, December 05, 2010

Why plumbing is great...

I am sorry I haven't updated you on the drainage pipe excitement around's an interesting tale. (For the sake of your stomachs, I'm avoiding any photos in this post. There wasn't anything too disturbing, but still...)

I'll preface this by saying that for the most part, we had access to reasonable plumbing last week. We could flush, we could shower, etc. We knew that the broken pipe wasn't allowing full drainage, so everything was just done very gently!

In the middle of last week, the nice tradesmen who do evacavating started dropping by. The first guy said--"let me see your basement" and "let me see this broken pipe dvd." Then he said something that was actually quite wonderful. He suggested we call our regular plumber back. He said he thought the broken pipe was actually "inside" the house, in our basement. This meant we wouldn't need a backhoe to dig up our outdoor pipes. It was a smaller problem than we'd feared.
(Think $2000 total and not, say, a potential $8 to 10 grand)

Our regular plumbing company -who are now like relatives- came along on Thursday and started fixing things. That involved:
-Cutting up the plywood false floor in our basement
-Hammering out not one but two concrete floors, complete with rubble in between them. The rubble included old lathe and plaster walls, so we know why concrete floor number 2 was unstable and the wooden floor was built. (laying a new concrete floor on top of uneven rubble is not a recipe for a stable new floor!)
-Digging down to wherever the broken pipe was.

When the plumber hit the broken pipe, the issues were obvious. A few owners ago, our house was "fixed up" by someone who lived here or somebody they hired. This person was a reasonable carpenter, an ok electrician and his plumbing left something to be desired. We knew this already--my professor has fixed nearly every plumbing fixture in the house, and we've also gotten to hire a professional plumber on multiple occasions already.

The short version? One PVC pipe forced into another pipe--without being glued together--had flexed over the years of freezing and thawing. The flexing pipe had carefully dumped out a lot of water drained from our washer over the years as someone washed clothes. This eroded all the dirt around it, and eventually, with no glue holding the pipes together and dirt holding the pipes in place, we had our little collapse this last week.

I felt so reassured on Thursday afternoon by the mere idea that the plumber was taking care of the problem that I fell asleep on the couch in the living room (just above the basement) while he worked. I slept through someone jackhammering concrete. Really.

By Thursday evening, the new pipes were glued in place. By Friday morning, the problem was nearly entirely solved, right down to a new concrete floor. We probably need to rebuild the false wooden floor above it, but that's minor in the great scheme of things. Our basement is not finished and we don't do a lot of entertaining down there!

We were reminded, over and over again this week, how amazing plumbing is and how bad it is when something goes wrong. Something good happened to us. We remembered to be grateful for one of the basics of modern life. Plumbing is an outstanding thing that really improves the quality of our lives and our basic health!

Now the professor is on to other things. Today he's trying out some new paint colors--doing a small sample paint job for our bedroom. This will be the project for winter break. The color when we got here? A very unpleasant yellowish brown with lot of sloppy paint mess ups. We're hoping for a light blue when all is done.

One last thought--we know all this is happening in part because our charming old house wasn't always maintained well...but we also know that things just happen. We know people with brand new houses who have had serious problems. Houses (like bodies) require upkeep! It's been a week where I've reflected (a lot) on how much we take for granted. If you're warm and dry, if you have a home and all the electricity, plumbing and heat work, it is a great thing. It's ok to say a little thank you about that, to whomever you thank. (The Almighty, the local House God, whoever!)

And yeah, if your body is mostly working right? That might be a great thing too. It's amazing when everything works right. A thing of wonder to behold...

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Blogger Jame said...

Yay for working plumbing! I renew my appreciation for it when we go on camping trips that require the toting of water and use of latrines.

December 5, 2010 at 4:52 PM  
Blogger Sharon Jones said...

I always love reading your posts. We have also experienced the wonders of repairing elderly/mismanaged plumbing. At one point we owned 4 port-a-potties to serve our household of six. Thankfully, we have finally replaced/upgraded our system to the point that we can actually expect the convenience of modern plumbing even when it is raining!

December 5, 2010 at 7:09 PM  
Blogger Mary Moody said...

I can relate to plumbing problems for sure. Right now I'm waiting for new flooring thanks to a leaky dishwasher.
I am also trying to buy you kippah pattern but getting no where with Paypal. Is there some other way I can buy it from you? I'm in Saskatoon.

December 7, 2010 at 8:49 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

It’s great to see that you have such positive remarks when it comes to plumbing when many are having such a hard time. I think you can agree with me that your plumbing experience is very much congruent to the plumbers you hired. In your case, for example, your plumber is like family to you. Having this trust to your plumber proves that he had done excellent work over the years, which is always a reassuring feeling.

Kurt Verdejo

November 14, 2012 at 2:54 PM  
Blogger Bibi Karpel said...

Yep, hiring a skilled and trustworthy plumber can reduce your plumbing nightmares significantly. Not only that, you can also ask them to do regular checkups on your pipes and drainage. They can even teach you things that you can do to take care of your plumbing on your own. I’m so glad that everything worked out well for you, Joanne!

Bibi Karpel

November 20, 2012 at 6:39 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Plumbing is definitely a great job. Anyway, looking for a professional plumber might be hard, but you've managed to find one. Make sure to keep in touch with him, so that you wouldn't worry about your plumbing anymore.

Althea Tumlin

November 21, 2012 at 12:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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November 27, 2012 at 12:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi there, Joanne! You’re fortunate to have reliable plumbers! As to your outlook on plumbing, people may find it peculiar, but I agree with you. More specifically, REGULAR plumbing maintenance can forestall most breakdowns at a fraction of the cost of repairs.

Angela Burnett

November 27, 2012 at 12:41 PM  
Blogger JR Vitug said...

Great article!

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