It all started with the dryer . . .

On August 20, my clothes dryer died, in the middle of the day’s last load of laundry. I wasn’t surprised. The dryer came from Montgomery Ward, years before they closed in 2001; it was at least twenty years old, probably older. I’d already gotten a couple of extra years out of it by replacing the main belt. The washing machine sitting next to it still worked, but it was just as old. Aha, I thought. My birthday is coming up shortly. I will treat myself to a new washer and dryer.

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I shopped around, but there really isn’t much of a price range on appliances. I picked out a pair of machines from LG (I already had an LG refrigerator and an LG smart phone, why not go for something in the middle?) and ordered them on August 26.

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Delivery was scheduled for the morning of Friday, September 2. After numerous calls and a long day of waiting, the truck showed up about 6 p.m. The dryer was installed without problems. The washer had a slight dent, but by then I didn’t care. Sending it back seemed much more trouble than a dent.

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Unfortunately, the washer wouldn’t drain, producing a puddle on my adjoining kitchen floor. The installers, whose competency rating was sliding rapidly downhill, blamed the problem on the drain hose. They chopped the end of it off and told me all would be well. It wasn’t. More water on the floor. The installers went out to their truck, made a phone call, and assured me someone would come fix it Monday morning.

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I didn’t believe them. The drain hose explanation made little or no sense. The next day I went back to the store and spoke to the saleswoman. She checked with the delivery company and the service department—no record of any call or any help scheduled for Monday. And no one thought the hose explanation made sense.

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So I went home and called the best appliance man I know, who said, “Nonsense. Your drain is blocked. You need a plumber.”

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I couldn’t argue with that. The house is sixty years old, and I knew the plumbing wasn’t in good shape. In fact, plumbing-5I’d wondered if I might come home one day and find the ceiling on the floor after a pipe broke in the attic. So I called the plumbing/electric/air & heat contractor that I’ve used in the past, and they sent a plumber out on September 6. The drain was blocked, all right, and he couldn’t do anything with it.

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On September 9, another Friday, three weeks after the demise of the dryer, a senior plumber came out with a pipe camera, and the project began to spiral.

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No hope for the pipes draining my kitchen and utility room. They would need to tunnel under the house and replace the broken sewer line, running a new one across the back yard to join the old one. The city inspector would expect all the plumbing to be in working order, so he’d better check to see that the water heater in the attic was up to code. Good news: the relatively new water heater was fine. Bad news: the ancient pipes were not, and looked ready to burst any time. Worse news: since the inspector would look at everything, that included the guest bathroom, where nothing had worked for years.

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Verdict: total re-pipe of the house, two tunnels under the foundation, two new sewer lines. The job would take a week or so. Not exactly the birthday present I was hoping for.

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The diggers started on Monday, September 12th. The contractor’s pest control guy came by and gave me a plumbing-4price for rodent-proofing the house (I didn’t want poison in the attic, and they don’t use it) and spraying for termites. Both needed, still on the to-do list.

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That night it rained, almost three inches. When I looked out the back door of the garage, the partially dug tunnel was full of water. Literally. Up to ground level. To my amazement, the diggers had the water pumped out and were back at work by mid-morning, but there was mud everywhere.

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Meanwhile the inside plumbers got started, Nutmeg the cat began her exile to the only room in the house that had no plumbing and a door that stayed closed, and the electrician came out to look at my sixty-year-old circuit box. A total disaster, everything in it fused solid. Along with several other problems, including new GFI outlets throughout the house, that job is also now on the to-do list, above the pest control.

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On September 19, the re-pipe was finished and the washing machine was hooked up and draining, through the sewer line that was laid but neither covered nor attached to the main sewer line. The diggers had moved on toplumbing-1 the tunnel on the other side of the house, and everyone waited for the city inspector.

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Still waiting for official word from the first inspector on Friday the 23rd, and now a second inspector, from the water district, wanted his turn, but not until next week because it was raining. And he only worked part time. Meanwhile the contractor’s office was asking the job supervisor about the rest of the money (we both said, “When it’s finished!”) and the sheet rock repair man came to cover all the holes the plumbers had made (and a few they hadn’t).

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Sheet rock guy was back the next day. So was the rain.

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On Monday the 26th, the painter came to tidy up all the sheet rock repairs, and the tile man came to repair the damaged tile where a new faucet and shower control was being installed in the hall bathroom (along with a new toilet—by now I was saying, “Oh, sure, why not?” to just about anything).

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More waiting until both inspectors gave their final approval—and posted it to the computer system where the plumbing-3contractor could see it. The diggers made quick work of refilling the tunnels and trenches (leaving my back yard awash in dirt, but some things can’t be helped. I’ve bought a pair of rubber boots), and on September 30 the plumber finished work on the hall bathtub and shower.

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On Sunday, October 2, a friend from out of town stopped in, and I was able to say, for the first time in years, “Bathroom? Down the hall and to your right.” It wasn’t decorated yet, but everything worked. I hung the new shower plumbing-2curtain and arranged the new towels, and I had a bathroom that functioned.

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On Monday, October 3, the job supervisor came out. We walked around the yard, looked at the indoor work, and I wrote another check.

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I figure when I’m finished (if one is ever finished fixing up an old house) I will have spent just about as much as the house cost us in 1976 (it was twenty years old then). I still have to have the electrical and pest control work done, and there’s still a lot of mostly cosmetic work I’d like to do. But my plumbing problems are over.

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And it all started when the clothes dryer died.

8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Laurie A. Green
    Oct 29, 2016 @ 19:09:47

    Oh my gosh, Kay. It exhausted me just reading that. But I can sort of relate.

    We recently had a new roof put on…and ended up getting a new furnace, evaporative cooler, thermostat, GFI and partial re-stucco in the process. Funny how these home repairs spiral out of control. Well, maybe “funny” isn’t quite the right word. :/

    Hope all is back to normal–or better than normal–soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • Kay Hudson
      Oct 29, 2016 @ 22:08:55

      And now I look around the house and see all the things I’ve been ignoring–beat up floors, walls that need painting, trim that needs carpentry. So much more to do. But next week I’m calling the electrician.

      Like

      Reply

  2. Gwynlyn Mackenzie
    Oct 29, 2016 @ 22:41:03

    I have to put new lights in the kitchen. Why? Long story, but the bottom line seems to be small household projects like to spiral into gaping maws with gaping straws to suck your bank account dry. I feel for you, girlfriend. Wish me luck with those lights!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  3. Chanda
    Oct 30, 2016 @ 13:32:06

    Oh, Kay! I am so sorry to hear of your trials! But it’s great that you’re on the other side of the evil plumbing redo!

    The joys of home ownership can’t be overstated. We don’t have a tale to match yours, except for the time we were replacing our sun porch and screen porch and had the whole back of the house open when a tropical depression passed through. The blue tarps just weren’t up to the challenge!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • Kay Hudson
      Oct 30, 2016 @ 13:38:54

      Hey, Chan! The house was only twenty years old when we bought it–I don’t suppose I gave much thought to the idea I’d still be here forty years later. And there were a lot of years when minor repairs were major expenses. So this really came at a good time. On to the next round!

      Like

      Reply

  4. gerrybartlett
    Oct 31, 2016 @ 18:01:31

    Keep all those receipts. Maybe you’ll get to take office in the home off your income tax and a portion of this disaster will qualify. Not much consolation. It’s horrible having workmen in and out. Hope that’s the end of the trauma.

    Like

    Reply

    • Kay Hudson
      Oct 31, 2016 @ 18:12:45

      Gerry, I’m afraid I’ve never been organized enough to mark off one area as a home office, but I will hang on to the receipts. Never know when those records might come in handy.

      Like

      Reply

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