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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Two Unlikely Plumbers

First, it should be noted that through our 40 some odd years of marriage, we have owned several homes, mostly new but have had our share of "fixer uppers" that required us to try to learn and employ basic home repair skills. Anything significant usually had some expert assistance from professionals that we knew, and as a specific preface for this post, hubby would insist on noting that the only real plumbing he had done previously was in an old house we once renovated and the entire plumbing project was overseen and assisted by an excellent professional we knew who worked for the builder I was working for at the time.

In fact, hubby has usually held to the strict rule that any projects concerning plumbing and anything other than very basic electricity absolutely must be hired out! But, as human nature goes, sometimes we allow our sense of self-confidence and (usually false) sense of competence in an area to overrule our good common sense. This is what happened on our most recent visit with our daughter and her family in Texas over the holidays.

So, meet our two unlikely plumbers...Husband and Son-In-Law.

Hubby "The Plumber"


Son-In-Law, with grandkids Asher and Gemma


A similar style and design shower faucet control
During a tour of their new house, (new to them, the house is about 10 years old), daughter had mentioned that their shower handle did not move beyond the halfway point and that the water was not very hot. We had exactly the same problem with our shower handle in our new shower in our rental in Florida.  When the weather turned cold we also noticed our water was not very hot...almost cold.  We contacted the owner who came over and said there was something that they put in new shower handles so that kids could not turn it past a certain point and scald themselves.  Easy enough...just remove the handle and adjust the part that keeps the handle from moving to release hotter water.  It seemed easy enough watching him do it and my hubby had "assisted" somewhat so he felt comfortable with what needed to be done.

So, when daughter mentioned that she had the same problem we told them what we learned and off marched husband and son-in-law to fix the problem. After reviewing the faucet, it appeared similar to the one we have in Florida that we just   had adjusted. Daughter and son-in-law just recently purchased this home...their first one, in late October, and did not know where to turn off the water. This is a key point for the remainder of our tale!

So hubby and son-in-law Drew started the disassembly of the shower handle, easy to remove the center screw and the outer cover and decorative sleeve covering the central mechanism. Drew started to unscrew the bronze bushing that covered the center shaft and other components of the water control handle and water began to leak out from under this bushing. Hubby is pretty sure he started a sentence like "I think we need to turn the water off first..." but isn't sure he finished it before the bushing was loosened enough to slip off of the thread holding everything together and water was suddenly spewing from the handle's center shaft like a fire hydrant! The pressure of this stream blew components out into the shower stall and, without anything covering the drain, one of the small dime-sized springs was lost into this drain! The other spring was shot out into the center of the master bathroom but we didn't find this until the next day.

Well, bedlam ensued from this point. Both of our erstwhile plumbers were being sprayed with relatively cold water, the bathroom is getting soaked everywhere, our three year old granddaughter is becoming hysterical and crying that her daddy is going to DIE, our 1 1/2 year old grandson is just standing in the middle of this circus watching the show (I later get him to go upstairs with me so I can change his drenched clothing, everything below the waste was just soaked!) while Daughter and I are starting to grab towels and anything else we think useful to absorb the water. Drew yells "everything needs to go to higher ground!" and hubby is getting out of the shower to head out and look for a water shut-off. Hubby spent (wasted) nearly 10 minutes looking for a control in the bathroom itself, all shut-off valves were for toilets and sinks, nothing for the shower. So outside we go, soaking wet into the dark freezing night with a flashlight to look for a water shut-off valve!

Within a few minutes the plumbers find a water control valve outside near the sidewalk and Hubby begins to turn the faucet off while Drew is inside getting drenched (telling me "it's getting cold") still trying to stop the flow of water by putting the bushing back or something, anything! (a totally impossible task), Hubby is turning this valve for nearly 10 minutes or more without any effect on the water flow in the shower (which is still filling the bathroom with water, fortunately the central drain is taking a good deal of the water so it's not running out into the rest of the house, yet.). So hubby goes across the street to ask a neighbor if this is indeed the right shut-off valve and he is assured that it is (this neighbor is now on the "not to be trusted" list, he obviously didn't know what he was talking about, this valve turned out to be for the lawn sprinkler system!). So we work on this valve for nearly half an hour, hands freezing, mud from the yard all over our clothes, the valve continues to turn but we're not sure if it is actually closing, but, in one of our better decisions of the night, we have decided to call the city DPW in the meantime and eventually a truck shows up and the friendly young man hops out, goes to another area and lifts a metal plate off of the correct valve (that valve cover plate, clearly labeled "Water", was covered with trash bags full of leaves that hubby and I had raked up earlier), and within a few minutes he had used his special tool to turn this valve off and the water is finally stopped.

The remainder of this evening is spent trying to figure how we might put the control back together with the pieces we have found (not knowing at this point that we are missing a spring and also, in retrospect, not understanding exactly how the components needed to be replaced, there is in fact a set and critical order to the items, especially the rubber gaskets!).

So, to end this sorry tale, two days later we find a plumbing supply store with a good inventory, I've discovered a schematic of the fixtures for this shower on-line that help the "plumbers" understand and explain to the store salesman what is needed to fix this mess, and we are eventually able to restore the shower to it's proper configuration. This is after a few attempts to replace the parts with the rubber gaskets in the wrong order, a situation which leads to the faucet leaking behind the walls! We cleaned up water several times during these three days but Daughter and family now have a shower that allows them to run water as hot as they want and Drew has the valuable experience of knowing, like Hubby, that any additional plumbing projects should most likely be hired out! THE END ;-)

8 comments:

  1. Kris,
    A good Plumber is hard to find. I'm glad things worked out in the end. It's nice that husband and son-in-law tried their best in this project. It's funny that you mention this, as my son recently worked for a plumbing company for awhile until he got a new job with new hours that he needed, but he definitely learned a lot and I think it's an admirable trade.

    Housing projects.......no fun, huh?

    Love,
    ~Sheri

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  2. LOL Now that's a funny real life story.

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  3. Haha - oh, such an unfortunate though FUNNY story! Yep, I believe in letting the professional people doing things like this..! :-D

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  4. Hello Kris, OMgosh - I am trying not to laugh - such a fun/real life story. My dad is seriously the best handyman ever - I even ask him over if something needs fixing in our home - much to my Hubbys dismay ha ha :-) Glad it ended well, Have a great day Axx

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  5. Sorry ... I know I shouldn't be laughing but ... he, he, he!!
    So glad it was all fixed in the end! M x

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  6. Awwww, look at your handsome hubby! That is such a hilarious story Kris, I can just picture the mayhem that ensued!!! God Bless them for trying!

    Funny but we've got the same issue with our showers since the "cold snap" started. The guest shower seems okay but our master bedroom shower just refuses to get cold. It's warmed back up though so not an issue now because I have NO desire to take a hot shower today:)

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  7. You're right to trust these things to the pros. But this looks like a lesson that everyone took to heart. These things look deceiving easy to tinker with, even when opened. Well, if anything, your erstwhile plumbers can now be entrusted to buy plumbing fixtures, making for an easier fix on the next plumbing emergency that you'll might have in the future. Take care!

    Traci Romero @ Harris Plumbing

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  8. Kudos to those handymen for their successful plumbing project! Hiring a professional plumber can be a bit costly, so you're really lucky you for having those men in your life who can serve as your own personal plumbers. Hahaha! Thanks for sharing that! All the best!

    Levi Eslinger @ Capital Plumbing

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