Saturday, July 5, 2008

Waiting for Good’o…

Water Wars, Part Two
If only I’d stayed burrowed in the envelope! But my do-it-yourselfer genes hijacked me, and the Evil Genie of “this looks simple enough” sang its siren song in my ear… I would have waited, honestly, but at 4pm (just before the holiday) I called the repairman, who hemmed and hawed, and allowed as how he could come by after his prayer meeting at 9pm that night, “to take a look”, figure out what parts he’d need, and “get to it in a day or two” -- the alarm bells started clanging, and I decided I needed Plan B (or was that C? I‘d lost track). I raced out, bought the pieces it looked like he’d need so maybe he could do it that night… and it looked so straightforward, and the wrench was just sitting there… I couldn’t help it - I dove in (almost literally) and started trying to get the bad pipe off. At first it was much too much for my clerical strength, but after running over to a neighbors and getting a much bigger pipe wrench, I must have scared it -- it started to wriggled free - and I discovered the middle piece wasn’t a filter but a “compression connector” put on there to bridge a 3 inch gap in the PVC pipe (why they needed to cut 3 inches out of the plumbing will the be subject of a few nightmares, I’m sure)… so I tried to tighten it -- and when I turned the water back on, it looked like some kids’ water fight! Hurriedly I turned it back off and adjusted again; turned it on - and the motor hummed a moment and clicked off. Dead.

I went through my seven languages worth of curse words, and then reluctantly called the pump company…. by this time it was after hours on a holiday, but I knew I didn’t want to go three days w/o water, so I sucked it up and had them send a guy. The kid that came out could have been my grandson, but I’m guessing anyone with seniority was already enjoying a beer and the fireworks somewhere. The first thing he said after he’d checked the motor was that it wasn’t broken - it had properly shut off because no water was required, therefore no need for motor. The fact that everything was sitting there quietly meant -- have you guessed it? -- that I’d fixed the leak and nothing was wrong now. I think I staggered at that point - he was looking at me like I was his senile granny, anyway. I swore to him on a stack of plumber’s cracks that the stupid pipe had been spraying water not 30 minutes ago! He fiddled with it some more, and allowed as how the shut off value wasn’t real good; it probably needed to be replaced. Since I was paying for him to come out, I agreed. Mistake number one.

He got his tools and glue pots, and found a new valve in the truck, brought it all back, along with a mini searchlight headpiece that did a much better job than the antique worklight I’d found in the garage. He removed the compression connector and began to replace it with the new pipe I’d bought, all the while telling me about the long hours he’d put in that week. A sudden silence, then… “Damn!” under his breath. Only thing worse to hear is an “Aaarrrgh!” of pain because that might be a lawsuit.

Sure enough, he’d forgotten to add a whole auxiliary L-joint of pipes that he’d removed when started to replace the leaky one. No problem, he just cut the new PVC pipe and said he’d add another connector. Got the jigsaw puzzle re-assembled approximately as I remembered it, and then we tried the water. Turned out that the wonderful new seal on one joint made another one leak! Cut the new pipe again, remove pipe, fix another joint. Try the water again. Inside it was great -- the water in the sink was flowing; outside it was a trickle. I didn’t want to ask if he’d glued up the wrong end of the pipe, but perhaps he was thinking that as he cut the pipe yet one more time (it now would have more patch joints than it started with) and he looked at the valve, then played with the pipe for a while, put it back. Then told me to go try the water outside again. Still trickling… Okay - what next, Sherlock?

He did something weird by “flushing the water back through” - connected the hoses in some sort of circle, took the head off one outside faucet and washed his hands a couple times. I was watching the dollars fly away on the summer breeze, and biting my tongue to keep from asking if his hands were clean enough, because it was obvious that he didn’t have a clue what was wrong, and he needed the silence to think in. He did something else inside and said, “Try it again” - and this time it was full pressure! I was very relieved; he said he thought some big bit of rust broke off in the pipe when he was repairing it - apparently I have waterial sclerosis… but it was back to normal, that was the key point, even though there are now four - count em! -- joints along that 1 ft. pipe. And today, when I tried to water the garden... it was back to half pressure. I’m definitely at full pressure though - just about to bursting, actually. Plan Z, anyone?

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