Homeowner’s Bliss

Scottish Canadian

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have water troubles. No, not that kind, the other kind. The kind that you find dripping in the basement. A lot of my troubles seem to start there.  If you remember, dear readers, I once found rats down there. If you don’t remember, you can read about them in a post I did called, curiously enough,  A Rat’s Tale.

Let me admit right from the start that I am a complete infant when it comes to the management of domestic machinery. Even the operation of the sink is a bit of a mystery.

However, ever since I moved in here it seems that there has been a conspiracy between two of the scariest bits of the house: the pipes and the furnace. I’m sure that they’re colluding to turn me into a sweating, quivering mass and get me wheeled out of here a la Amityville Horror, if a little less grandly.

The first fall I was here and still in the honeymoon stage of new homeowner’s bliss, I turned on the heat but didn’t get a wink of sleep. Every time I started to drift off there were these loud bangs and the sounds of water running. Now, you might say to yourself, it couldn’t have been that bad, but believe me, it was. Close-range artillery had nothing on it. And then there was the fear that I might have to build an ark.

So I got a plumber, a guy who grew up with Moses and knew more about pipes than the oil industry. He poked, prodded, stared and blinked. Then he stood by the back door and spat. “Old system,” he said. “Air in the pipes. Need to take the pressure off. One hour. $100.00.”

It turns out that I’ve got something called “radiant heat” which circulates hot water around the house. During the Roman days it was a good system but mine dates to the 1960s, a time when engineers felt they had to tinker with perfectly good stuff and screw it up. That’s what I have. Not the old-fashioned, really good, reliable version. The screwed up version. Air gets into it and it makes a lot of noise and a river runs through it.

The situation I’ve got going on now is a lot worse, though. Everything has sprung a leak. I keep wondering if there’s some sort of message that I’m not getting. There’s one from the kitchen sink. One from the dishwasher. One from the bathtub. One from the shower. There’s also some sort of problem with the venting. If you didn’t know already, as I did not (big surprise), improper venting will cause all kinds of water to back up, particularly all over the floor.

The plumber who came in to take a look initially tried to be polite and keep a straight face but later I could see him choking back gales of laughter. He was red-faced and almost suffocating. He was holding it in so hard that if he had let it slip, he would have blown his teeth out. I thought that I might have to get the portable defibrillator.

He wanted to take pictures. I kid you not. There’s probably some secret website or other where they share plumbing stories. There are probably gasps of awe and wonder as they gaze in astonishment and exclaim, “What the hell is THAT?”

I apparently bought a house with not only a weird furnace but also with the worst plumbing on the planet.  He estimated that at least four different people had had a go at it, and not one of them had read “Plumbing for Dummies.” My ex-narcissist, supposedly an expert on pipes, was one of the four. Why am I not surprised? Then I heard him muttering to himself something about it being a “handyman’s nightmare.”

The next thing he said was that if Mike Holmes saw my plumbing, he would have a heart attack. For those of you who don’t know, Mike Holmes is a renovation god who goes all over Canada fixing shoddy workmanship. His motto is “make it right.” Usually, he takes your house apart to do it. Now for me, hearing the words “Mike Holmes” and “heart attack” in the same sentence brought up one word: money.

“How much is this going to cost?” I wailed.

The plumber, a friendly young guy who was earnestly trying to be professional, starting shifting from one foot to the other.  As we stood there, another leak sprouted. I skipped nimbly back and in the process mashed several toes on a storage box. He swished through the water and started listing out all the stuff that had to be done.  I started hyperventilating, whether from the mashed toes or the cost or both.  In the end, after several big drinks of whiskey, I was able to recover, if a little unsteadily and still trying to stave off visions of bankruptcy.

He’s either replacing, moving or repairing six pipes. Then there’s the vent. It’s going to cost $1000.00. Since it’s such a strange get-up, I temporarily had thoughts of  throwing it open to the general public for a small admission fee, but he’s actually coming back in only a couple of days. Shot down again.

I’ll let you know how it goes and how the whiskey holds out.

15 thoughts on “Homeowner’s Bliss

  1. I love this one. I think we all have a few stories of plumbing nightmares or perhaps bad dreams. We just had a major sewer back up that affected five suites in the condo complex we live in. Apparently the so called maintenance company had only been cleaning the vertical pipes and the horizontal pipes got clogged. (Tech talk I think) Anyway, good luck with the plumbing. I hope you tell us the outcome.

  2. This cracked me up!! I love your line ” It turns out that I have something known as ‘radiant heat’ “…. I have so been there is certain situations in life, having no idea what was going on. Never, ever a good think when a professional wants to take pictures of your situation. 🙂 Great writing…

    • Thanks, Kimberly! I feel a bit foolish having not bothered to ever educate myself about my own house. I started to sooth myself by thinking, “Well, he’s probably seen a lot worse,” and then realized that he hadn’t, thus the pictures!

  3. We bought our first house, then a month later on new years eve the kitchen ceiling sprang a leak! It took two years to fix due to insurance, bad workmen etc… I know your pain!
    Just be careful – don’t let the ghosts out of the pipes! hehehe!

  4. Great post Lyn, fortunately I haven’t had trouble with my water works… ok I shall re-phrase.. we have pipes in our place that when daughter # 2 turns her shower on, in our bedroom it’s like sitting next to Niagra Falls. I have an insinkerator (the sink garbage disposable unit) which has just packed up after 8 years.. ok so I got 8 years out of it. Mr. S is a very hand man but with plumbing err…no.. I laughed at your misfortunes – sorry but I did (the way your wrote this) and my kinda gal bring on more whiskey!!!!! 🙂

    • Thanks for commiserating – the whiskey is the only good part of this! And don’t worry about the laughing – I figure that sometimes, when all hell is breaking loose, or this case, water, laughter is best! 🙂

  5. Sigh. I feel ya. I have water all over this joint. The adjuster came from the insurance company today – and he has no idea where it’s coming from – so now they are sending an engineer. I figure I will get to meet at least 10,000 people before this mystery gets figured out. At least the insurance company said they will pay for it. So that’s a good thing. Good luck to you… Homes, huh? At least you still have your sense of humor still going strong 🙂

    • Sorry to hear about your water problems. It’s not going all that well here – the shower is still leaking which means that it’s probably going to have to come out and that means lots more $$. Yikes! It’s really not good when they don’t know where it’s coming from and of course dealing with insurance can be a serious hassle. Good luck to you, too. Yup, still hanging on to the humour!

  6. i am the person wheeled out amityville horror from toxic molds…12 years later….best minds…best drs.. haven’t found a secret website with answers.. my condo is still sitting there…waiting for a crisis fixer to appear like olivia pope on tv;s scandal.

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