8.26.2020

Ah. The glorious perks of homeownership. The paralysis of turning off the water.

 

It started a couple of days ago; a tiny puddle, maybe an inch by an inch, appeared along the edge of one of the Saltillo tiles in the kitchen. At first I thought someone had just spilled or splashed some water but every time I wiped up the puddle with a paper towel it reappeared. 

I checked under the kitchen sink but everything there was dry and happy. I suspected the refrigerator. They are complicated and sometimes non-cooperative. I thought one of the valves that bring was to the ice maker or the water filter was leaking. Maybe it was the drain hole for condensation run off. I don't know, refrigeration has always seemed like magic to me. 

If the pipes under the sink were still good I decided to blame the refrigerator and call an appliance repair guy who has always done good work for us. I was sure he could minister to our KitchenAid side-by-side and bring it back to good form. In all honesty I did clean the dust off the coils so he wouldn't think we were totally unaware of the idea of maintenance. 

Patrick showed up this morning with his tool kit and usual no nonsense manner and the first thing he did was to pull the huge, heavy, massive refrigerator out of its cubby to look at the back. And there is was; a broken shut off valve on the wall. A valve which should work to protect us from leaks!

The stem of the valve was broken right off and there was no way to shut off the persistent stream of water other than to go to the shut-off valve at the stream and shut off water to the entire house. As I left the front door to go and shut off the water (so proud of myself for knowing where that is!) I heard Belinda yell through Ben's bathroom door, "Ben, finish your shower! Dad's turning the water off in two minutes." 

Patrick is not a plumber. We were clear on that. But he has a friend who is a plumber. He gave us his friend's cell phone number and suggested I attach photos of the valve in question (and a valve under the sink that's had a checkered past) and send along a text. 

Having no other expertise than photography I went into the studio and grabbed a small LED panel and used it, along with my iPhone, to get photos of both valves. I sent the pix along with an urgent message (by this point I realized that toilets work via running water...) suggesting, pleading, and cajoling that today might be much better than tomorrow for this particular act of plumbing. 

It's a little after noon now and I expect our aqueous salvation to arrive around 6-ish. I've retreated into my office to escape the task of floor mopping (which I believe should fall to the youngest in the house) and to order myself a sandwich for lunch. 

I thought I was so clever to pay off the house last year but in truth a house is never "paid off" they just continue to rack up obligations. More or less a ploy by the fates to keep us on our toes.


I hope we have water tonight. But I'm happy it wasn't the refrigerator proper. I have a nostalgic relationship with that fridge and I'd hate to lose it. 

Hope your day is less fraught with domestic aggravation. KT

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

Looking, they are bolt on - bolt off valves. A quick trip to the Home Supply or Plumbing shop, a roll of plumbers teflon tape and a crescent wrench and you would be back in business within 20 minutes. Interesting that you are not confident in your skills do do this one.

Kirk Tuck, Photographer/Writer said...

I don't do plumbing. I don't shop for plumbing stuff at giant hardware stores. I'm sure I could figure this out by watching someone on Google do so. Then I would have to buy tools...

I'm more interested in why you are interested in my lack of confidence in my skills.

I called a professional. They'll do the job correctly the first time.

Since you are compiling some sort of psychological profile you might also be interested to know that I have never owned a lawn mower, don't know my way around a jackhammer and even though dentistry seems pretty straightforward I've never offered to make and place a crown for my friends or neighbors.

Among my other oddities: I don't change my own car oil. Or wiper blades. I don't operate leaf blowers. I don't brew my own beer. I don't own a hand gun. I don't watch football on TV or anywhere else. I don't clean out my own septic tank. I don't eat frozen food. I can operate a microwave oven but usually I choose not to.

I don't prune my own trees. I haven't done my own tax return for over 40 years. I've never been in prison and have never had a tattoo.

If you think you can drive to a big box hardware store across Austin, buy the (correct) valve and a "crescent" wrench, and teflon tape, drive back home and rip your knuckles apart doing this kind of work all in the space of 20 minutes then I think you lack some measure of sanity or judgement.

Anonymous said...

You can do your own profession for $200 an hour and hire someone to do the things you don't excel at or you can get into the DIY mindset and waste all your time fucking stuff up that your spouse then has to call a professional to re-fix. Seems a simple choice to me.

seany said...

My my we are tetchy today Kirk, as someone who lives outside the US is it normal to respond to mild criticism in such a manner, do people as a general rule respond to each other like this, I only ask as it would be unusual where I reside, a simple "I don't do DIY" would be the appropriate response and that would end the matter.

Frank Field said...

Anytime I try to do a plumbing task, no matter how simple, I have come to expect at LEAST three trips to the hardware store. Plumbing seems to suffer from the adage "if you don't like any of the current standards, make up a new one." No wonder plumbers tend to drive dual-wheeled pick-ups with racks around both sides of the bed to carry the zillions of slightly dissimilar parts. Still, in our area, you sorta have to bite the bullet and try to take on the simpler jobs. Getting a plumber to the house has a minimum charge of $175.

Kirk Tuck, Photographer/Writer said...

I don't do DIY. Better?

Ronman said...

It's an adjustable wrench, and unless manufactured by the Crescent company, not a Crescent wrench. And it's not a bolt on, but is instead a threaded fitting. Maybe you should not try to imply a judgement call and instead just stay in your lane.

BruceA said...

On those rare occasions when I think I can fix something around my house on my own, I buy two of each part I will need, against the chance that I will break one. Having two always defeats Murphy's Law. And having a replacement part on hand means I will never have to use it.

My house was built in the early 1960s by what I can only assume were unknowing participants in an LSD trial.

bishopsmead said...

I do DIY, which probably explains why my photography sucks.... and why I have cupboards full of tools fixings and spare parts; and zillions of bits & pieces that might be useful for fixing something sometime...

Andy said...

Hi Kirk,

Hilarious that it's all kicking off over a plumbing issue. Years of espousing LEDs or EVFs before the critical mass of "why I switched" articles and barely a peep. Endless pool reps at the crack of sparrow fart and silence. One innocent acknowledgement that you get a bloke in to change a washer and chaos!

If only you had realised that by investing in the right wrenches, and crawling under the cupboards you could cut family overhead; reduce required ROI from the business; save on lenses and lower bids to get ahead of the game.

I do change the odd washer, but the time I spend on YouTube to check I'm doing it right would be better spent on deciding whether I prefer my 27mm or 35mm.

PS: Can you stir up some discussion on trees. I have a very dodgy poplar that needs some serious intervention ;-)


dinksdad said...

I've been diy plumbing repair jobs for 30+ years. These valves worked better and lasted longer when they were made in the USA. Now you can only buy cheaply made imported valves. Expect to have more leaks in the future.

Kirk Tuck, Photographer/Writer said...

Andy, don't get me started on those damn poplar trees.... argh.

Kirk Tuck, Photographer/Writer said...

Andy, by the way, do you remember the articles I wrote here many years ago talking about the inevitability of mirrorless cameras? That always amuses me too. Half the parts, the same price, twice the margin! What camera company wouldn't want mirrorless?

MikeR said...

Local handyman service has a slogan riffing off of a certain big-box hardware chain's:"You can do it. We can do it for you. "

MB.Kinsman said...

So I guess this means you wont fix it yourself then?

typingtalker said...

We often enumerate the modern marvels that have changed our lives -- the internet, Amazon, digital cameras that double as telephones et al.

Add to those Home Depot and Lowes. If you are so inclined, nothing ever again has to go un-repaired. They've got all the parts and all the tools. If you are not so inclined, skilled professionals are just a phone call away. And if they need parts, Home Depot and Lowes are there for them too.

Kirk Tuck, Photographer/Writer said...

Everyone should be a professional in something. Most can't be a professional at everything. Thank goodness we still have plumbers, electricians, carpenters and more. Hiring them IS supporting the trades. Doing it yourself is an acquired taste.

Michael Ferron said...

I do do plumbing and that is a very simple fix. Shut of the water in front of house and replace that valve with a 1/4 turn ball valve that will last a long time. (about $8 or so) Only hard part is fitting your body into the cabinet.

Robert Roaldi said...

Most of the maintenance I've had to do in houses was to correct the errors of the DIYers who lived there before me. And I'm not that competent. And I don't enjoy the doing of it. I've spent money on pros and I've spent time fixing things myself. I don't give a crap about the money but I sure would like some of that time back.

Anthony Bridges said...

I just had nearly the same experience early this month on an "easy" repair. And, I used my photography gear, too!

We have two sink setups in our master bath. A leaky faucet needed repair on one of the sinks. Replacing the leaky faucet cartridge was easy. However, both shutoff valves under the sink were broken so I had to shutoff the main to replace the cartridge. I decided to save me some money and replace the faulty compression sink cutoff valves. I used one of my LED lights to see what I was doings under the sink. Hours later after sawing off the ferrules with a Dremel, using teflon tape and most other stuff suggested on YouTube I could never get a dry seal. I finally said screw it and called a plumber.

The plumbers arrived. They told me my Lowes supplied cutoffs were crap and fixed the problem in less than an hour for less than $200. I've replaced toilet kits without too much hassle but I think I'll leave the valve stuff to the professionals.

dicky said...

I heard Belinda yell through Ben's bathroom door, "Ben, finish your shower! Dad's turning the water off in two minutes."

Be thankful that you have a son, not a daughter. This would not end well.

Nigli said...

I do some plumbing, but I'm a winemaker so getting a line not to leak is part of the job. I also brew beer, which is a related discipline. Otherwise, we let our handyman do it.

Andy said...

"Andy, by the way, do you remember the articles I wrote here many years ago talking about the inevitability of mirrorless cameras? That always amuses me too. Half the parts, the same price, twice the margin! What camera company wouldn't want mirrorless?"

...nah, will never catch on..

:-)

Zack S said...

Having a water leak can be terrifying. One can have a basement filling with water and might never know. I bought one of these auto shutoff valves that turns the water off where it comes in the house if a leak is detected. Also got six water detectors that I will put in areas that where there are things like water heaters, under sinks, etc. So if there is a leak the system knows and will shut the whole system off. This will bring a lot of peace of mind even if I am out of town.

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