Tuesday, February 5, 2008


Anthony and Justin arrived about an hour late yesterday, but they got right to work opening up the walls and excising the nasty, very rusted old pipes. Actually, the cold water pipes were fine; the hot water pipes were the ones filled with rust and corrosion.

We tried to prepare by moving as much stuff out of the way as possible, but not knowing exactly where they were going to want to work, a lot of what we moved was still in the way, so rearrangement continued throughout the day. The noise was awful. Saws and hammers and grinders, torches and wrenches and everything else, including the kitchen sink went into the struggle. Plumbing fittings still litter the yard. The tub is full of tools and odd flotsam and jetsam from the job. The cat smartly hid...

One wall was cut that didn't have to be, and in cutting the right one instead, Justin managed to get some plaster chips in his eye. Oh man. Anthony was under the kitchen sink at the time, banging away, and called out, "Justin! Come here, I need some help." Nothing. The saw in the bathroom had stopped some time back. "Justin!" Nothing. Then a few minutes later, Justin showed up in the kitchen, "Anthony, I need the keys to the truck, I got something in my eye." Anthony said, "I need your help here." Uh... dude. I was about to intervene when Justin said, "Look, I can't. I can't see. Give me the keys." And Justin went out to the truck. Anthony sat there for a minute in a pile of plaster dust and rotted pipe-age. "Oh..." It was like a lightbulb went on over his head. "Oh... shit." He got up and went out to the truck.

I continued my business in the house. A few minutes later, the two of them came back and started packing up for the day. It was about 3:00p, and they'd been working pretty hard, with Justin under the house most of the time, where all the most pitiful and desperate pipe-wracking sounds had been coming from. They got their stuff out to the truck, and Justin was in the laundry room looking sort of lost. I asked him about his eye. He told me what had happened and showed me his red and weepy left eye. I told him he better get some treatment, it could be nasty. He said he would. Before they left, Anthony -- who by now you've figured out was the journeyman -- took me aside and said everything was OK, they actually got somewhat farther today than they expected to. All the old pipes are out, some of the new ones are in, and they'll have the rest in tomorrow (today), and he expected everything to finish up tomorrow (today) and the water to be back on by early afternoon.


Well, of course, there's always that, isn't there? He took me around to the front of the house and showed me the main where the water came in to the house through the line from the street. Ooops. He'd been replacing the hose bib and setting up a new shut off valve when the pipe broke. He dug around and found it was rusted where it came out of the ground. He was going to dig around some more hoping to find some solid pipe to connect to, but the whole thing could be rusted in which case, replacement time. OK. I asked if he could do it tomorrow (today) if he needed to; he thought he could. The wall mount faucet they got for the kitchen doesn't quite fit, so they're going to try to find a better one. The bathtub and shower fittings should be OK, but they haven't tried them yet. They -- so far -- haven't had to open exterior walls, so there is that.

We laid in a supply of about 40 gallons of water to get us through two days without running water (they'd told us it would only be one, but we suspected otherwise and were correct.) We've been able to do most routine water-using activities except bathe, the tub being decommissioned for the duration. The kitchen sink drain broke during the struggle with the pipes, so that is out of commission and will have to be replaced. Flushing the toilet without running water is possible, but it seems to take a lot of water to do it, four gallons to fill the tank plus another gallon to clear the bowl. That's used up a lot of our non-potable supply, though we are doing our best to limit our trips to the toidy to those only absolutely necessary. We're trying not to generate dishes to wash, and only doing minimal morning ablutions.

And then there are the holes in the walls. Ones needed and not needed. The plumbers are not going to fix them. We will. Saving some of the cost, you see, but still...

As for that plumber's eye... well, we'll see shortly, won't we? They're supposed to be back here in an hour an a half.


  1. I know that it is really painful going through this now, but eventually, it will be over. And everything will be put right again.

    Hang in there, friend. There is light at the end of that new pipe. Or should I say, Hot Water? :)

  2. Why the hell was this guy not wearing eye protection? I'm betting you didn't get a union shop. I would be wary, Comrade, because if they're not taking basic safety precautions such as wearing eye protection, there's no telling what else they're not paying attention to.

    I meant to say something about this when you first talked about having the job done, but it slipped my mind.

  3. Yes, as they say, This Too Shall Pass, but we're sure being put through the wringer as it's passing. Gak!

    And this is only the plumbing portion. Still have to repair the walls and get the floors fixed. And then, as everyone seems to know, there will be something else, and something else, and something else, and that's how old houses get to be Money Pits.

    The outfit we're using is well-recommended, been in business locally since 1960, "certified journeymen" plumbers, they claim to be familiar with this neighborhood and these old houses, but they're constantly surprised by the difficulty of the job. Some of the safety and other issues make me wonder...