Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Busting out the Channel Locks at 10 PM? Never a Good Sign

In the neverending saga of my adventures in home ownership, last night I discovered, much to my surprise, that there was something wonky going on with my pipes.  All I was trying to do was wash some dishes.  Then kitchen faucet suddenly became a hostile beast.  And the sound Riley's toilet made when I had the gall to flush it?  Dreadful.

My first call was to my Mom.  (This is not an uncommon thing - she is almost always the person I call first in a crisis, and I'm not ashamed to admit that.  More like grateful.)  My call prompted her to recall the work trucks she'd seen out front of my house, blocking the street, earlier in the day.  Suddenly the cordoned off area in my neighbor's yard across the street made sense.  Mom suggested I call the water company.  Well, yeah, I probably would have thought of that.  At some point. 

My first call to the water company resulted in the nice lady on the other end determining that there must be air in the lines, and walking me through the steps to clear it out.  That didn't fully resolve the issue, but she opined that the remaining low-flow was due to sediment/calcium deposits that had broken loose in all the commotion, and were now clogging up the little screeny things that cap the ends of most faucets.  Okay, fair enough.  None of them wanted to budge, initially, but the trusty old rubber jar opener did the trick. 

Then Riley tried to take a shower, and had the same issue.  Thankfully, a bath sufficed.  But while she improvised with that, I noticed that the kitchen sink output had now diminished to a pitiful little trickle.  Even without any screen or fixture at the end.  Ruh-roh.

Call No. 2 to the water company resulted in Different Nice Lady expressing her puzzlement at my continued flow woes.  While First Nice Lady had checked and found no reported issues in the area, Second Nice Lady did acknowledge that there had been a break in the line across the street earlier that day.  (Really?  No!)  But the symptoms I described to her just didn't add up.  So, she opted to put in an emergency call for service for me.   I hung up, realized it was approaching 9:00 p.m., and wondered what the turn around time on such a call might be.

Half an hour later, Nice Lady No. 3 called me -- just to follow up and check on the issues I was still having.  She was stumped, too, but confirmed that someone would be out to check things out.  I inquired as to the expected time frame, and she laughed and said that would just involve checking out valves on the exterior of the house -- no need to wait up and leave the light on.

So, I didn't.  I headed to bed, got comfy, and began painting my nails.  Thus, the banging on the front door at 10:15 startled me.  And messed up my manicure.  There was Wally the Water Guy who introduced himself as "Water Company" and bounded through the door as soon as I opened it.  I was a little alarmed by this, but felt at least reasonably confident he was no vampire.  The orange reflective vest also helped lessen the threat perception.  (Sociopathic serial killers just don't strike me as the sort to sport safety vests.)

Wally wandered through the house and quickly concluded that my remaining issues -- including the shower head -- were all about those dang calcium deposits.  What a relief -- a relatively easy fix.  I ushered Wally out and returned to Riley's bathroom to remove the shower head and clean it out. budging.  At all.  Not even with the jar opener.  Holy hell.  It was time to bust out the channel locks.  Which is never really a happy occasion -- how can it be?

Alas, even the channel locks were no match for the super glue/cement/immovable adhesive welding shower head to pipe.  I wrestled with it for several minutes, while perched atop the tub and ducking down under the shower rod, all the while cursing and muttering under my breath.  Or maybe over it.

As of tonight, I've two bathroom faucets which work fine, a washing machine which works okay, a kitchen sink which remains reluctant, despite the removal, cleaning and replacement of the screeny thing, and a shower head which may require TNT to remove it.  On the bright side, I've discovered that it is possible to "shower" under the bathtub faucet.  You just have to be a bit flexible. 

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