Monday, May 12, 2008

Master of Plumbery (OT)

(Image from Shreiner Plumbing)

Sunday was a holiday. The grand tradition here at Chateau CycleDog requires that either a family member is ill or we experience some kind of calamity on every holiday. Wouldn't you know, everyone is healthy, so a disaster awaited us.

I thought we'd get through the whole day without incident for once. It was not to be. Lyndsay was in the middle of making dinner when she said, “Hey! There's water leaking from under the dishwasher!” Sure enough, rusty-looking water was slowly seeping out across the kitchen floor. I turned off the hot water tap under the sink, after removing boxes of detergent, bottles of cleansers, scouring pads, numerous rags, cat toys, Jimmy Hoffa's dessicated corpse, more boxes of detergent (most of them empty), ant traps, and a couple of tubes of 'ant medicine' – boric acid mixed with sugar. I discovered that the under sink valve leaked unless it was fully opened or fully closed. Oh joy. I get to fix that too.

We sat down to a nice dinner. I enjoyed it thoroughly, but when I checked the kitchen floor again, it was wet. Turning off the water didn't have any effect on the leak. It continued its inexorable push across the floor, though I'd dropped several newspapers to sop it up. That's when it slowly dawned on me that the dishwasher may not be the source. I pulled the refrigerator out from the wall and there it was! Water dripped slowly from the ice maker line. I tried to turn it off, but the drip was not to be denied. The valve was shot.

Water ran from the the refrigerator, along the baseboard and under the back of the dishwasher, emerging from under its front panel. It was 6:30 already. The hardware store closed in 30 minutes! I turned off the main water supply valve, grabbed a pair of adjustable wrenches and set to work removing the ice maker valve. Deep inside my brain, a small voice screamed endlessly about the distinct possibility of breaking a pipe off inside the wall, but I shoved it down, sat on its chest, and drove a #3 Phillips screwdriver through its heart. Big screwdrivers are very useful.

Fortunately, the pipe didn't break. With the removed valve in hand, I jetted off to the hardware store. I found a replacement quickly and hurried home. The ice maker valve is the lowest in the house, so the rest of the system was draining through it. Lyndsay had a pan under it, catching the water. I installed the new valve and tightened everything, and then turned the main supply back on. It held! No leaks!

I have recurring nightmares about werewolves and Russian paratroopers. But the worst ones involve plumbing disasters and feature plungers, drain augers, overflowing toilets, and things that squish under foot in the night. I come by this honestly. There have been too many nights when Mary wakes me to fix a stuffed toilet or kitchen drain. There's nothing quite as romantic as running an auger under the kitchen sink at one o'clock in the morning because someone who will not be named tried to put half a ton of sauerkraut through the garbage disposal. Lifting a toilet off the floor to discover a couple of toys inside it runs a close second.

I am a master of plumbery with only one major failing. I have to learn how to show more butt crack while I'm working. Maybe it will serve as a deterrent.



Blogger Fritz said...

I had a similar icemaker water line leak that took me forever to find. Well, okay it was maybe a half hour, but like yours, the leak looked deceptively like it was from the sink somewhere.

5:07 PM  

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