Tag Archives: plumbing

Lessons learned and things accomplished

While I’ve been out on furlough this week, I accomplished a few things around the house (though not perhaps as much as I would have liked) and in the process I learned a few things about myself.

  • I handle hot weather now about as well as I did when I was twelve, which is to say I handle it badly.
  • My hands do not have the same steadiness when painting a room, as they had 10-15 years ago.  While the overall job doesn’t look too bad, some of the trim work was done to less than my old standards.
    • Along those lines, I have to say I do not particularly like these foam brushes.
  • Honey-suckle bushes produce a lot of pollen.  Pollen that sticks really well to the leaves on a honey-suckle bush and which you won’t necessarily notice until you’re trimming the honey-suckle bushes and pulling out large branches.  Naturally the branches of a honey-suckle bush tend to intertwine themselves, so you have to pull really hard to get them out and yes, pulling them that hard also flings the pollen up off the leaves and directly at you.
    • While I’ve never been officially tested, I think I can safely say I am allergic to the pollen of a honey-suckle bush.
    • Also, if my wife ever convinces me to be the one to trim those bleeping bushes again, I will –at the very least– have to wear some sort of dust mask to keep the pollen from my sinuses.
  • I still hate plumbing projects.
    • Especially unexpected ones, like having your toilet break.
    • On the bright side, the toilet didn’t leak all over the floor and it was a repair simple enough I could do it myself.
    • But I still have plumbing.
  • All programmable thermostats are not created equal.
    • In particular, having one that divides the day up into 4 blocks that do not match your schedule just as bad as not having a programmable one.
  • A bike that has been reasonably well cared for and put in storage (e.g. hidden in back of garage) for a few years does not cost very much to be put back into ridable condition.
  • Riding a bike around my neighborhood is just as enjoyable now as it was when I first learned to ride.
    • After building up a good amount of speed, you start to coast along and it feels kind of like you’re flying.
    • While my knees & legs certainly don’t care for all the various hills around my neighborhood, those hills will help me get into shape as I ride around more.
    • And since Cedar Rapids is trying to be more “bike friendly” maybe some day I’ll be able to ride my bike to work.
      • That won’t be happening this year as: a) I need to get into better shape first and b) I still would have to get across Collins Rd during rush hour. *shudder*

I Hate Plumbing

With apologies to Cole Porter…

I hate plumbing in the spring time,
I hate plumbing in the fall,
I hate plumbing in the winter, when it drizzles,
I hate pluming in the summer, when it sizzles.
I hate plumbing every moment,
Every moment of the year,
I hate plumbing,
Why, oh why, do I hate plumbing,
Because my leaky, f’ing faucet is near.

That bit of drivel is meant to prepare you for some whining and ranting on my part regarding the latest installment in our plumbing adventures. This afternoon I worked from home as I received a phone call that the plumber had the replacement part he needed and would be coming by. The plumber showed up slightly later than I was expecting, but once he arrived I showed him the tub and the shutoff valve in the basement1. I left him to his work and got back to mine.

The handle on the shutoff valve was old/rusted and back when the first plumber came out for the broken faucet; he broke the handle (but not the valve thank god). Today’s plumber went back to his truck to get some channel locks to turn it with and also found a new handle sitting loose in the truck which he said he’d try putting on2. Then he went back to the bathroom and got to work. A few minutes later I heard him exclaim “SHIT!” I asked if everything was ok, but got no reply. I could still hear him moving about, so I figured he’d just bonked his hand and went back to work.

Shortly there after, he came out and asked if I was sure the faucet was a Price Pfister? I said no, that’s just what the other plumber had told us. He said in any case the part the first plumber told us to order was the wrong part and in fact it’s not even a part for the same brand of faucet as we have. He left then to see if he could track down the part we actually needed somewhere around town.

When he got back, he had the bad news that nobody has the part we need locally and we’ll need to order it.


He also asks a few more questions about the other plumber who’d been out and recommends calling them back to try getting our money refunded. Apparently he used to work for that company and still knows a few things about their procedures. Seeing how it’s been almost a month, our faucet is still broken, the plumber who originally came out to look at it never wants to discuss it with us; my wife thought that was a good idea.

Then he turns our water back on and goes back to his shop. Not more than 30 minutes later, he calls back3 and gives me the details for calling the manufacturer of our faucet as the part which is broken has a 100 year warranty on it. My wife gives them a call. She immediately gets through to an actual human being, who takes our address and say it’ll be sent out via UPS and should be in our hands by Monday, Tuesday at the latest. Time taken to complete the call was less than 10 minutes.

Yes, I said less than 10 minutes. I know, we were both stunned at that too and they did not have us pay anything for the parts! Now that’s some seriously good customer service. She then called back the plumbing company of the first guy who came out and complained at them for 20 minutes straight. Unfortunately it turns out she was talking to a receptionist and the shop foreman will be calling back tomorrow when she’s at work. I’m going to have to field that call and it’s scheduled for approximately the time I’m walking in the door after driving home.


I really hate plumbing.

1 As a reminder, the tub with the broken faucet has no local shutoff valve. To stop the water flowing, we have to shut off the water to the entire house.
2 I don’t believe it fit, but it was nice of him to try.
3 Unlike the original plumber who appeared hating calling us back and didn’t like us to call him either.

The Plumbing Nightmare Continues

Finally heard back from the plumber’s part guy. They have to order direct from the manufacturer as none of their suppliers have the part. The bleepied-bleeping bleep manufacturer will not ship overnight. Expected transit time of the part?

2-3 weeks

Yes, that’s right. They said it will take weeks. I told him I’d have to get back to them about it, since we have no way of shutting off that tub except by killing water to the entire house.

A slight pause and then he asked if the water was running continuously then?

I wanted to beat my head on my desk but just said yes.

He asked if we have copper pipes. I said we did but to be perfectly honest, I’m not 100% sure of that.  I’ve seen some copper pipes, some PVC and some other kind when I’m down in our basement. He recommended we put in a shutoff valve so we wouldn’t run into this situation in the future.

Forehead: What’s the broad, flat surface rushing at me all of a sudden?

Desk: Don’t you worry about what I am just yet, we’re going to have plenty of time to get aquainted.

I know the guy was just trying to be helpful, but seriously we know we need a cutoff valve. We want a cutoff valve, but we don’t have the time/money to be remodeling our bathroom right now. I told him I’d have to talk it over with the wife and call them back.

And to be perfectly honest, at this point I’m more inclined to call a different plumber to see if they can come out and fix the problem now. I’m so sick of this plumb fun.

Plumb Fun

Thanks to the loverly weather we’ve been having in Iowa, our house is having some plumbing issues. The subzero temperatures caused the supply line pipes to our downstairs tub to freeze, but fortunately not burst. Unfortunately, when they thawed a bit it freed up some of the years of lime/calcium/crud in the pipes. The build-up then broke a thingamadoodle inside the faucet causing the water to run without stopping.  Naturally this is in the tub which didn’t like to drain.

My wife found this out when she got home and started calling various plumbers. But none of them could get to the house right away and the tub was in danger of overflowing. Luckily one of the plumbers she talked to recommended a drain cleaning service which was able to get out to the house and within an hour got the tub draining better than I’ve ever seen it drain.  So one potential problem was solved but the running water was still going. For extra fun the drain guys convinced my wife that we had a busted pipe in the wall.

After they left, she was eventually able to get in touch with a plumber who could come out. But we had to agree to pay an after-hours fee of$175 to get him there and since we were concerned about the pipes, we agreed. When the plumber eventually got to the house, he confirmed what I thought when I got home (no busted pipes). He had to kill the water to the entire house to shutdown the water to the tub and then got to work.  He found the broken thingamadoodle, but didn’t have a replacement in his truck. He left to try getting one from a hardware store but that store did not have the part either.

He said the company he works for required him to charge us the $175 for coming out plus $119 for the work he already did plus $2.69 for an “environmental fee”. He then told us he would try tracking down the part and coming back the next day, on his own time so he wouldn’t have to charge us another $119 to complete the work.  Unfortunately he called us the next day to say nobody appears to have the part and we have to special order it.

*sigh* Ain’t home-ownership grand?

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