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You Know You Need a Plumber When.....

Posted by kswl (My Page) on
Mon, Jul 21, 14 at 8:55

The people installing hardwood floors in your library get to the last five feet along the longest uninterrupted wall and move a long and heavy sofa to pull up the last of the carpet underneath and find that it is.....wet. The carpet is wet, the pad is wet, and the concrete underneath this room, added on twenty years ago, is wet. The tack strip is black but, curiously, there is no smell whatsoever in the carpet or pad. This room is four steps down from the rest of the first floor, and adjacent to it is ....a bathroom. Luckily, someone has left an access door in the library closet (code requirement, but we're out here in the building equivalent of the Wild West so you can't really count on things like codes) and all the plumbing is clearly visible.

That makes no difference to Floor Guy, of course, who stops working and says sternly that he will be back when the problem has been sorted and the slab is at the proper moisture percentage differential than the wood for this time of year. When will that be, I wonder, as he gathers his tools and frightening looking helper (always wondered about prison tattoos and now I believe I have a few to google). It is Thursday. I was expecting new floors and everything back in place on Monday. Instead I have boxed decorative accessories in the dining room and library furniture stashed, literally, all over the house. Yes, literally, Weird Al.

Call to plumbers Friday at 7am, if I have to leave a message what tone should I adopt? Friendly but with a slight edge of distress, or casual, as though I don't really care if they come or not (this sometimes works on dogs and husbands, rarely on children and service people). When The Plumber answers the phone I am so relieved I launch into full desperation mode...I am tripping over myself explaining the urgency of the situation... No, we don't have water spewing out .... right now, I add darkly, trying to inject a feel of emergency without lying through my teeth. Yes, they will come, just have to install a water heater at another house and they will be over. I am babbling my thanks, perhaps I'm too grateful.....I did not say blessings on your tents, camels, and childrens' children out loud, did I?

Plumbers show up a mere eight hours later. I have been steadfast in my belief that they would come, but for the last few hours have considered Plan B, consisting of putting out a bounty notice for whoever can deliver them to my front door unharmed, but the only person I can think of who would do it is the floor helper and I can't risk annoying his boss upon whose goodwill and finishing of this job rests my now precarious mental health.

They inspect, they confer, there is a certain amount of flashlight waving and they deliver the news: they Know What Happened. It seems the Previous Owners had desired new tile in that bathroom, but did not want to go to the expense of removing the existing tile, so they simply tiled over what was there. I learn that, with a toilet there is the pipe that comes up from the floor, a flange (sort of a collar thingie) that fits around it, and the actual fixture, which is seated (sorry) on this flange with a wax ring between the flange and toilet. The additional layer of tile has caused the floor to be a little too high for the pipe and flange, which were now somewhat recessed and the toilet would not seat properly. To fix this-- or rather, to not fix it and cause a perfectly innocent Future Owner unnecessary grief, the PO's had a second flange placed right over the first one, to raise that bit up enough for the toilet to be seated and work. And it did, for nine years, until the flange underneath cracked, and after each flush a little of the water filling the bowl flowed downward along a floor joist and dripped at the edge of a wall, where it spread out into the concrete, pad and carpet in the library.

The plumbers took up the fixture and flanges and dug around and used mortar and fixed the problem with the proper ONE flange, cleaned everything up and for an hour and a half of thinking (the most important part of any job, I see yet again) and plumbing charged me $185. I am so grateful I am almost weeping with happiness as I write the check. They thank me for playing Frisbee with their dog while they were working and keeping her happy and I say, earnestly and honestly, if you are happy I am happy and am just glad they don't know what I was prepared to do to keep them there---literally, anything, yes, Weird Al----and they drive off.

It is now Monday. I have called, left messages and texted Floor Guy, telling him excitedly that our little problem has been solved, the water is drying up and I am checking the moisture content of the concrete slab hourly.....he does not respond, and someone in the big city who knows says he started a huge commercial job today that will keep him busy for weeks....i leave another message and mention casually that if he wants the balance of the fee in cash I need to know when he is coming so I can get to the bank.....no bites.......and now I am thinking about a new Plan B involving the BIL of a painter I know who was jailed for bank robbery and who fled successfully on a bicycle but was recovered camping out in woods a few weeks later but is now reportedly out and looking for work.....

This post was edited by kswl on Mon, Jul 21, 14 at 9:02


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: You Know You Need a Plumber When.....

Great story! Your next career can be as a Southern Humorist.


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RE: You Know You Need a Plumber When.....

And the special sauce on this one is that it is all true :-)

I was thinking of emailing it to Floor Guy but woke from my thishasgottobefixedtoday trance and thought better of it.


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RE: You Know You Need a Plumber When.....

What a story! When it goes wrong, it goes really wrong, doesn't it? Good luck getting floor guy back. However, I'd make sure the concrete floor is really dry before you get him back so he doesn't pull the 'it's not really dry enough yet' on you. As another rural dweller, I sympathize.


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RE: You Know You Need a Plumber When.....

Great writing! I was grinning as I read your saga being a fellow sufferer when it comes to getting trades to show up and actually do the work. Play with your dog...sure. Feed you...sure...what's your pleasure.? Iced water, hold the door open, change the oil in your truck...whatever you need...just stay and fix the whatever...puhleeeze.


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RE: You Know You Need a Plumber When.....

That was so cool and fun to read...i cant wait to turn the page........ Im positive your floor guys have to be from my neighborhood.......

~Al


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RE: You Know You Need a Plumber When.....

Not to make light of your water/floor emergency, but that was a very funny read! You are not only talented in the vision and decor dept, but quite the talented essayist!


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RE: You Know You Need a Plumber When.....

A wonderful story, perfectly written - drama, suspense, heroes, a happy middle, and a cliffhanger ending. Oh, and let's not forget loads of well-placed humor! I loved the Weird Al song you referenced.

I eagerly await the next chapter.

Meanwhile, do you have a dehumidifier in the corner to speed the drying process?


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RE: You Know You Need a Plumber When.....

Oh no! And yet, so funny the way you told it. You should definitely publish that - after Floor Guy and scary helper have finished and forgotten where you live.


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RE: You Know You Need a Plumber When.....

Not yet, Ankh, but later today we are having the Mother of All Dehumidifiers delivered from a rental place to make sure there is no humidity by the time Floor Guy returns.


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RE: You Know You Need a Plumber When.....

And thank you all btw......sometimes it is this or sit down with a gallon of peach ice cream and a bottle of Lillet.....this is the low cal option :-)


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RE: You Know You Need a Plumber When.....

When the remodeling is done...you have a future in writing! I enjoyed reading your piece and glad the leak is fixed and wasn't a major plumbing job. Hope you don't have to go with woods guy! :)))


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RE: You Know You Need a Plumber When.....

KSWL, you are giving Victoria Elizabeth a run for her money. You had me laughing the whole way through your story. Honestly I think the no cal way was great but I couldn't resist a gallon of peach ice cream!


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RE: You Know You Need a Plumber When.....

The best of this charmingly written post was the plumber's price: Where did you find a plumber who even shows up for $185?! Lucky girl!


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RE: You Know You Need a Plumber When.....

"Friendly but with a slight edge of distress, or casual, as though I don't really care if they come or not (this sometimes works on dogs and husbands, rarely on children and service people). "

LOL, KSWL. That flange thing sounded sooo bad, I was sure it was going to lead to tearing up the floor. $185, amazing.


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RE: You Know You Need a Plumber When.....

I don't want to laugh, but it's your fault, lol....

I empathize completely , what a drag. I am glad it turned out with a somewhat happy ending. More waiting, that's the killer.


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RE: You Know You Need a Plumber When.....

Your reasonably priced, efficient plumber is one of the things that I love about small Southern towns. I am eternally grateful for the true gems that have come to my house and patched my roof, fixed a leaky pipe, repaired a broken oven, etc.

The flip side is that the sly ones and the stupid ones are dreadful and make you wonder about the future of the human race.


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RE: You Know You Need a Plumber When.....

You know you need a plumber when ....

A tenant asks when the indoor pool was installed in the basement!


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RE: You Know You Need a Plumber When.....

Lol, lazy, good one!

Deee, these guys are father and son, they are wonderful AND reasonable, not usually common plumbing virtues :/)

I am still waiting, Mitch, for the floor guys to return. He has called two days in a row now to say they are coming the next day...

Mtn and vedazu, I had my checkbook and a pen out and thought I didn't hear the amount right, so I waited to see him write it down on the invoice!

I was a reporter for a small town newspaper many years ago, fresh out of college. Sometimes we wrote spoofs of our real articles. The poor girl on the society desk (cross my heart) was a hoot and wrote wonderful satire. She eventually couldn't take it any more and went back to school for a masters in social work to work with homeless people in Washington DC.


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RE: You Know You Need a Plumber When.....

You are a clever, creative person to come up with such an enticing story from a miserable experience. Please tell us more stories, we love them. They don't have to be real experiences lol. Kudos to you.


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RE: You Know You Need a Plumber When.....

Lol yaya, maybe some day I will tell you the story of the painters, the real story. Like they say, you can't make this stuff up!


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RE: You Know You Need a Plumber When.....

I enjoyed your post. I hope the floor guys comes back so we can get the end of the story and you can get your project finished. Patience is a virtue.


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RE: You Know You Need a Plumber When.....

Lazygardens, earlier this month that is exactly what happened with one of our rental properties. The tenant called and told me the whole walk out basement with finished family room was flooded. Called my plumber and it was the hot water heater. There goes over a month's rent between the labor and water heater.


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RE: You Know You Need a Plumber When.....

Oh, no, Holly-Kay! do you insist your renters keep renters' insurance on their goods?


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RE: You Know You Need a Plumber When.....

KSWL, I always highly recommend that they do but leave it up to them to decide. They are a young couple and though the family room is nicely finished I don't believe that they have furnished it.

I am kicking around the possibility of hiring a management company because the properties are getting to be a pain!


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