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This Old Crack House

From log house to farmhouse. Farmhouse to townhouse. Townhouse to apartment house. Apartment house to crack house. Crack house to our house. Our house to our home.

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Friday, July 01, 2005

The bain of my existence!

Yes, that would be plumbing.
We had the water shut off since last September. This was wise since we ran no heat over winter. We thought that we would save money by not using any water but the City of Dayton would beg to differ. It would seem that unless we actually have the water meter removed we are "in the system" as it were and obligated to pay for a service that we aren't using. They would charge a fee to re-install the meter when we needed it but couldn't say how much that would be. It is impossible to argue with a monopoly run by beaurocrats.

Well, today I had the water turned back on. I had to leave a hand written note for the water department in the door authorizing the event because the water had been off for so long. I arrived at the house this afternoon. The note was gone. I entered the house, roamed from floor to floor checking that all the shut off valves were in fact off. I then ran to the basement, stood next to the main valve. I took a deep breath, put my hand on the shut off lever. I closed my eyes, pulled the lever and thought of England.

There's the ssssshhhh noise as the pipes fill up with water, then silence.

Now, in the past this silence has been interupted by a "thump" and sound of water pouring down through the ceiling of several floors, but not today. Just silence.

I roamed from floor to floor turning on the valves and listening for the leak that I know must exist. Every year something pops as a result of the freezing in winter. My eyes combed the ceilings and floors for traces of water. I even used a flashlight to search better. Then, on the third floor I found it! I could hear air being forced slowly from the copper pipes and when the valve was turned on, well, needless to say I found the leaks which I promptly fixed by cutting the lines and capping the ends.

I can do this on the third floor because the entire bathroom and kitchen up there will be re-done in a year or two just as soon as I replace the slate part of the mansard roof where it leaks on every remuddled dormer and every aluminum window frame.

I used cpvc plastic pipe for my water lines. The main reason for this is that it is so easy to fix when there is a problem and it installs quickly. Soldering copper, especially if it still has water in it is a real bugger! I have 1" copper pipe running from the main valve to the hot water tank (which has to be installed). There is copper feeding the shower heads in the main bathroom and copper again on the third floor that was installed in 1962 and is generally where many of my problems are. With the cpvc you don't have to be a contortionist in order to be able to solder a joint! You certainly don't risk burning the house down either! Plastic doesn't conduct heat like copper. This year my basement pipes didn't freeze as a result of cold temperatures on the third floor. Two years ago I had to replace my main valve and the pressure control valve because the pipes froze throughout the house. A 1" pressure valve cost me $150.00!

In the meantime, before I left for the day I turned the main valve off just in case. So often my problems have sprung overnight and I arrive the next day to the sound of a peaceful waterfall inside my house.

My real big problem came later in the day. I have only ever used a contractor once. It was a plumber to install my DWV system three years ago. His work failed the inspection and I had to replace about a third of his work so it would pass. I swore off contractors after that and discovered that I am quite talented as a result. Well, his work has come back to haunt me today. I'll tell you all about it in the next post......


At 7/01/2005 4:54 PM, Blogger Greg said...

Speaking of a monopoly run by beaurocrats, my water dept. only checks the meter every other month, so on the off months they send out an estimated bill based on the past 12 months. When I bought my place there were 5 water leaks that I promptly fixed, but my estimated bills were based on the leaky months. I would get a bill one month for like $180 and the next month it would be like negative $120.00. If I didn’t pay the $180.00 they would threaten to shut off my water. They refused to listen to reason, “I’m sorry sir, that’s our policy”. I had to put up with this until I had 12 consecutive non-leaky months.


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