Not deferential enough: Plumbing curse

Posted Monday, November 25, 2013 in Opinion

Not deferential enough: Plumbing curse

by Gina Hamilton

I couldn't be more excited.  A plumber is coming to Turning Tide Cottage tomorrow.

I know what you're thinking.

(This woman has gone a little funny in the head ... just a little funny ...)

Yes, possibly.  But I can't tell you how long it's been that I've been looking for a plumber.  Well, I probably can, now that I think of it.  It'll be three weeks tomorrow.

Three weeks to find a guy who is willing to come to my house, do a little work, and take a check from me for whatever it costs.  Honestly, you wouldn't think it would be all that difficult, would you?

Three weeks ago a pipe burst in the basement ... the "dry" basement" ... soaking all the insulation we were planning to cut into strips and use to insulate the upstairs floor.  Some of it may be salvagable, but other strips will have to go to the dump.  We bought a shop vac to get some of the water out of the basement; more needs doing.  We need to take fans and possibly a dehumidifier down into the basement and dry the whole thing properly. We need to have a carpenter to knock the door frame back into place so the door will close properly, and we need to insulate the walls behind the pipes so they are less likely to freeze in cold weather.  But all those plans were put on hold while I looked for a plumber who would come to replace what is probably a five dollar part. 

While he's here, we'll have him do other things - replace the toilet seal in the downstairs bath, and Do Something once and for all about the undersink problem, which is becoming quite a nuisance again.  And perhaps he'll be able to give us an estimate on what it would cost to run propane lines into the house so when I get my on demand water system and my stove and dryer, we'll already have the propane system in place and capped.  Might have him take a quick look at the dishwasher, too, which is making a funny and annoying noise.  As long as he's here.

A gal can dream.  Actually, it's probably better than a dream.  I plan to go see Randy's Appliances and price out some good used appliances.  I could probably have the stove and dryer fairly soon, and save my pennies for the tankless water heater.

But before anything like that can happen, the plumbing curse under which I labor, like poor Hercules, must be put to rest.  It won't rest for me, on account of I'm the one that's cursed.

Back, back, way back, when I was a summer employee at a public relations firm in college, the owner asked me to do some PR for her sister, who was an astrologer.  I am not making this up.  I was getting paid anyway, so it didn't matter to me, but the astrologer wanted to give me a free reading, anyway.

So she cast my natal chart and figured out what my major problems in life were likely to be, which included plumbing. 

Every house or apartment I've ever lived in since ... every one ... has had plumbing problems (if it had plumbing at all).  Now, you say, most houses have plumbing problems.  Not like this, they don't.  My plumbing curse is as regular as clockwork.  I can be doing everything right, and it will still hit.  And it tends to hit around major holidays.

Plumbers never quite understand the depths of the plumbing curse.  I always inform them that they're dealing with supernatural forces at play. They smile and scoff, and then when I call them up in a week because the brand new part they've just put on has failed, they begin to regard me with something approaching awe and a little fear.

I'd truly love to put the plumbing curse to rest.  But who are you going to call? An exorcist? Ghost Busters? We don't even understand the nature of the curse; we only understand that we have one.  The stupid thing is, plumbing is so, so, logical.  It completely irritates me that I can't fix these problems, because I really should be able to do it.  Just like I really should be able to rewire the house.  There's nothing particularly complicated about it. It's not even really heavy labor, like poor Hercules.  It's just a puzzle, making sure water flows the proper direction, toward the sink or the sewer. 

Well, we'll see how the plumbing thing works out tomorrow. 


As expected, nothing went according to plan.

After hours of draining what now appears to have been sewage, my husband and I thought to let the basement dry ... after all, the pipe was off, nothing more was going to leak.

So imagine my surprise this morning when I confidently led the plumber downstairs to come face to face with another six inches of water on the floor.  As it turned out, it was the work being done in our neighborhood to fix the sewer system, which has been spewing sewage into other homes and backyards for the past seven years ... that we know about.  That's right.  And they're only getting around to "fixing" it now.  That's also right.

So the plumber said he'd be back tomorrow with a pump, but in the meantime, the neighborhood workmen found the problem, and it may not be fixable with an ordinary sump pump. 

Also in the meantime, nothing was done to fix anything else.  Which is fine and all, but Thanksgiving is coming right up and it's awfully difficult to thaw a turkey or rinse cranberries at the moment. 

It's a curse, I tell ye.

Another Update:

They came back today, most of the water in the basement had receded (though not all, and Someone Must Pay for some of that).  The plumbers worked tirelessly, and replaced most of the pipe downstairs, which I guess was in sad shape generally, and all the plumbing under the sink.  As far as I can tell, they did not replace the toilet seal, although it is possible that it didn't need it once all the piping downstairs was fixed.  I will know more when I see the thing tomorrow. 

More than a thousand bucks poorer, we apparently have functional plumbing ... at least for now.  But curses have a way of returning to haunt.

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