The Cool House: Things that go flush in the night

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Things that go flush in the night

One of the less well known universal laws is that one problem solved causes three new ones. For example, when we moved here eighteen or so months ago the engineers report noted that there were minor plumbing issues to take care of.
Like the leaky downstairs shower and the powder room wc with the phantom flush. Easy, I thought flush with my "building fund", I'll call a plumber. The adorable original house owner left me a list of her responsible service people and I duly called her plumber. He arrived, looked at the problems and left promising to call back the next day. Case One: the disappearing plumber.
A month later the builders were here tearing out closets and paneling. They noticed the dripping shower and offered to fix it. Great. Super. They bought a new shower head, cleaned out the accumulated yuck and proudly presented it to me. "It still drips, though" they said "but we'll fix that". A week later they were gone, but the shower still leaked, and the toilet flushed unaided.
Fast forward six months and the second contractor was looking for things to do while his spackle dried. Your shower's leaking. Very astute these builders. He fiddled with it. "I've cleaned it, but it still drips a bit".
Meanwhile, the phantom flush began to keep us awake. I decided to tackle it myself. I bought a new flapper and fitted it. Piece of cake. Didn't stop the flushing though. Finally it was enough to wake us up at intervals throughout the night and another shower starting gushing rather than dripping. I caved and called a second plumber.
This one came, looked at the gushing shower and decided it needed a part that would have to be specially ordered. He promised he would fix the loo at the same time as the shower. A week or so later the plumber phoned, the part was in but the plumber was busy so they were sending a different guy.
OK plumber and part arrived. Plumber Two or is it Three's verdict on the shower? Didn't really need a new part, just needed cleaning. "You got a lot of debris in there, ma'am". He installed the part anyway, I'd ordered it so I had to pay for it. And the loo? He left saying it was fixed, but all he'd done was put on a new flapper! This actually made matters worse, but I didn't notice this until after he drove merrily away. Instead of flushing quietly every fifteen minutes, it now flushed like Niagara Falls every five minutes.
A phone call to the firm and couple of days later, Plumber One (or Two) came to fix the toilet, spent fifteen minutes and voila no more noise. Three plumbers, two contractors, three call out charges for the last two plumbers, time and parts for five guys and the loo is fixed. It would have cost $20 at Home Depot if I had done it myself, huh!
And the dripping shower? I forgot to ask the plumbers to fix that one. Probably a good thing or we would be bankrupt by now.

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