Thursday, July 10, 2008

Moving Right Along...

I'm happy to report that we have a functional bathroom again, tub, shower, sink and toilet. Yesterday I worked at home to be on hand in case the plumber ran into any difficulties. I was available to see all of the ugly details. Ms. Huis took the kids and the car and wandered around town, staying out of harm's way.

Erick the plumber showed up at 9:45 yesterday morning, clean, friendly and quiet. I showed him around the house and pointed out the two problem areas - the broken hot water valve I broke off trying to close and the dripping ceiling. Fortunately the ceiling had stopped dripping by this time.

He opted to repair the basement valve first, which took about an hour. In the process, I did learn something I hadn't known. The valve that failed was a stem valve that looks like this.

Most of the valves in the basement are of this type, although a few of the newer ones are a ball valve with a lever. Some of the valves in the house are installed sideways, like in the picture, while others are installed with the handle facing down. Erick made the observation that the lifespan of the valves installed upside down is significantly less than those installed sideways or upright because small drips of water leak on the stem, rusting it. Which is exactly what happened to the one that broke off in my hand. Erick installed a new ball valve on the hot water and that should last my lifetime.

Then Erick headed up to the kitchen, climbed his ladder and started measuring where to cut. I left the kitchen. I did not want to be there when the lathe and plaster came tumbling down. I knew just how filthy the job was going to be based on the ceiling I took out in the basement and also on how dirty the water was that came leaking from the ceiling.

I asked Erick how long it was going to take to fix the problem, to which he replied that often what takes the longest is finding the leak. Here's a picture of the pipe he pulled out. See if you can find the leak.

Those holes were at the top of the cast iron. Evidently, cast iron always leaks from the top down. What happened, and why it started leaking "all of a sudden" was that there was a small blockage in the pipe. It was big enough that it acted as a dam, raised the level of water up to the spill over point and then leaked. Now that Erick finished the work, it looks like this.

He had to cut and replace the elbow too, which is why there is a cut into the wall. Erick was cleaned up, out the door and driving away by 3:00 pm. I spent the next two hours cleaning up the coal dust that had been in the ceiling. If there is anything worse than concrete dust, it's coal dust.

The next step is to get the plaster guys in. We'll let the the ceiling air out for a few weeks though before we look at getting that done. It's still a bit wet up there.

So all in all, functionally everything is working great. It's the cosmetic part next that I'm most worried about.


Ms. Huis Herself said...

Leak? What leak? OH, you mean the MULTIPLE GAPING HOLES?!?!

*sigh* This house is never without some kind of surprise, is it?

Allknowingjen said...

I can't believe that was in your ceiling! (well, no, I kinda can - but WOW)

Anonymous said...

It might be called the "house of 42 surprise" (or maybe 4200). Good, I'm amazed that a pipe like that wasn't pouring out water.