Friday, October 28, 2011

Wade in the water. Wade in the water children. Wade in the water. God's a gonna trouble the water (a.k.a: Well Done Broke Part 3)

I stared at our full-home filter unit, hanging from the plumbing beneath our house, at the trickle of water dripping slowly, seemingly from beneath a sticker on the side of it.

"Uh, this thing has a leak!" I called up to my wife.

"What?!" she called back from the kitchen, cause that's what we say to one another whenever one of us tries to talk to the other from beneath the floorboards.

"I said, `This. Thing. Has. A. Leak!'" I called back.

"A leak?!"

"A leak!"

Turns out, the filter unit itself was not leaking from the seal between the hangy-downy screw-on filter housing and the upper bit that spans two parts of our main water pipe. It wasn't even leaking from a hole beneath the instructional sticker on the side of the filter as it first appeared. Instead, it was leaking from a tiny crack above that sticker, in the side of the upper bit of the filter unit, specifically from the middle of the letter O in the word "OFF" which was molded into the plastic itself and indicated where the valve in the top of the filter could be turned to stop the water flow. (Well, I say "could be turned" but, in fact, that valve switch snapped off of the top of the unit well over a year ago. I'd been trying to turn it into the off position and it refused to budge, until it did. Being stuck in the on position isn't catastrophic, though, so we just left it that way.)

The crack in the filter housing was causing a single drop to seep out, slip beneath the sticker, then from the bottom of the sticker, then over the lip of the filter's seal and into the bucket on the ground below at about the rate of one drop every three seconds. And since it was a pickle bucket, it was going to take a loooong time to fill. We debated for a while whether we could repair it with J.B. Weld (our favorite steel-like epoxy substance), but decided instead to call Dave. He said J.B. might do the job, but he couldn't say for sure. If we wanted, he would try to fit us into his schedule and come over and install a new filter for us. It would cost $200, labor included, but we would need to go buy a new filter unit in advance. We told him to hold off, as the wife wasn't sure this was a big enough job to call in a professional. She thought we could do it just fine. I had reservations about that likelihood. Oh, sure, we were fully capable of installing a new filter unit, but if I've learned anything about our track record for home repair it's that anything we do that we've never done before takes three times as long to accomplish than we think it will and we usually wind up screaming at one another in the process, and not just from crawlspace to kitchen. The other thing I knew was that we wouldn't do it right away. With a leak as slow as that one, we could go on pouring out buckets of drip water for weeks before getting around to the replacement. Hell, for all we knew, we could wait until city water was installed and get Dave to change it out while he was down there installing the new lines. From the word on the street, city water was coming in very soon. In fact, the water guys had been in our neighborhood only days earlier putting orange marker flags down to denote the future location for water meters and fire hydrants. (Wait, what the EFF? We live in neighborhood filled with nothing but houses with wood siding and we have NO FIRE HYDRANTS? How is it that we've never realized that before?) It could be a matter of weeks before we'd have city water.

Turns out, it is. Except it's a matter of at least 52 of them.

About a week after our filter leak began, a neighborhood association meeting was called to discuss the city water installation. The project is indeed in full swing, but ground has not officially been broken yet. The project would be done in stages and our particular stage was not scheduled for completion for nearly another year, barring any delays. Shit.

We didn't replace that filter unit for a few weeks. About once a week, I'd go out and the bucket would be close to full. I'd scoop out a couple of butter tub sized scoops of it and haul the pickle bucket out to pour into the yard. (It's got to get irrigated some way, cause damn if it had rained any yet.) But I did notice as the weeks went by that the bucket was filling faster and faster. The drip was now one drip per second. Soon, I was having to go down every five days and then even that wasn't fast enough. It was likely that it would continue to increase until it just started spewing a stream of water in the middle of the night and we wound up with a flooded crawlspace--at least til the well ran dry.

I went to Lowes. There I found and purchased a new filter that had a clear screw on housing, so we'd be able to see when the filter was nasty at a glance. Within another week, the wife and I set aside a day to get it done.

As predicted, it took three times as long to accomplish as we thought (we try not to budget for the triple amount, because then it will just take nine times as long) and, in the end, was not as difficult a job as it might have been. For instance, we didn't have to cut any pipe to get it done, though we did have to use the old metal connectors from the previous filter rather than the push on plastic jobbies that came with the new one, cause they just plain leaked. Even the metal ones gave us a lot of leaking trouble, until we realized we'd not used plumber's tape in all the connections. Had we used our brains a bit more, it would have been an easier job. But at the end, we had a new whole house filter that did not require herniating one's self to screw the housing on and off (or bruising one's tail bone). We felt pretty good about ourselves. Which was good, cause we'd been feeling pretty crappy about the water situation as a whole. Maybe this whole well thing would be okay.

Then, one week later, we lost water altogether.

1 comment:

chaniarts said...

at our house, it's always a factor of 3: time, money, difficulty, and hassle factor.

a factor of 5 if the in-laws are due for thanksgiving dinner anytime in the next few weeks.