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Adventures in Plumbing [Feb. 25th, 2009|10:45 pm]
[Current Mood |tired]

The plan:  the plumber would come with four new toilets (two for each house), pull out the old toilets, and put in the new toilets.  The new toilets would use a lot less water and be nice new working toilets with no quirks (yet.) 

By the end of the day, both houses would have nice new toilets.   Meanwhile, I would go to the city, pick up my NYC visitor from the airport, take her to lunch, take her to see DRW's shop and the crossbows, take her to her hotel, feed her again, take her to choir practice in the evening.
The reality:  the plumber arrived with four new toilets (two for each house) and looked at the first of the old toilets, in the larger bathroom at our house.  Let's just say he didn't think much of the toilet, and he really didn't like what he found under it....rotted flooring under the tile (tile conceals rotted wood quite well, until  the wood fails and the toilet tips over, which happened in the *other* bathroom a few years ago.) 

I left to go to the city and start the planned activities.   Called home once I got to the city (little over an hour after I left.   After several calls, made contact and heard this "There's a big, rapidly enlarging hole in the bathroom floor..."   followed by "But I'm having problems with the reciprocating saw..."   While on the phone, the plumber came to report that there was rot under the toilet in the larger bathroom in the other house--the one our son rents from us.   But the floor my husband had repaired (in the earlier discovery of rot) was sound enough, and a new toilet was, in fact, in that bathroom.  One working toilet in a house is way better than no working toilets, even if it was in the least convenient bathroom. What about the other toilet in the other house?  Not yet checked.

Off we went to  pick up the NYC visitor.  Then lunch.  Then back to R-'s house to call and find out the current status...I had recommended an immediate search for a carpenter since--though my husband can build a rock-solid really good floor--he's a thorough but not fast worker on things like this, and two bathroom problems might take a long time, and with a third a possibility...call for help.  A carpenter was supposed to be calling him back.  Meanwhile (there's always a meanwhile) I'd realized that by taking the car that wasn't blocked in by the plumber's truck, I'd gone off with my husband's choir music (needed for church this evening) and my choir music (ditto) was in the other car.  We managed to plan and execute an efficient switch-out, at R-'s house at 5 pm.  In the meantime (yet more meanwhile) I'd taken the visitor to DRW's house to see crossbows and swords. Then off to church for the Ash Wednesday service and choir practice.

Got home maybe 15 minutes ago.  There's a piece of plywood covering the hole in the floor of our larger bathroom and the carpenter has supposedly framed in below it.    At the other house, there's an emergency cover (to keep whatever lives under the house from visiting our son in the nighttime.)    The carpenter is coming back in the morning.   The plumber will come back when the floors are all done (Oh, and the little bathroom at the other house did have a solid floor so that house has a working toilet too.)    I don't know when it will all be done and I know it will cost more than the original plan, but...better to find out the floors were about to cave in before they did when someone was perched there.



[User Picture]From: cdozo
2009-02-26 05:35 am (UTC)

Pournelle's Law

Everything takes longer and costs more.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2009-02-26 06:04 am (UTC)

Re: Pournelle's Law

No. My mother's. She was older than Pournelle, an experienced engineer and architect, and she used it about home-building and home-remodeling. "It always takes longer, it always costs more, it always makes more mess than you were planning on."

She is also my source for "Accidents don't happen...they're caused."

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[User Picture]From: farmgirl1146
2009-02-26 06:25 am (UTC)
I send my best wishes for life in plumber land. Rotting wood under the toilet is so gross.

We have been seeing the birds migrating here in Seattle, which is normal. What is not normal is the snow that is falling right now about about 10:20 p.m. PT. It is the little birds, the Variegated Thrush, Chickadees, Tit Mice, and, of course, the Anna hummingbirds that are hurt in the cold. I have seen none of the bigger birds, like Robins, yet.
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[User Picture]From: masgramondou
2009-02-26 07:30 am (UTC)
Oh boy. Makes my recent adventures in toilet repair look completely minor. And makes me glad we have a house built of concrete, concrete, stone, tile and more concrete. You get interesting molds and tracking down wiring and pipes is "fun" but you don't get structural failures.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2009-02-26 02:51 pm (UTC)
Where I grew up (not where I am now) the older houses were built post-and-beam for a reason--the ground was shifty. (The ground was old alluvial soil, over a layer of high-pressure-natural-gas bearing porous stone far enough down to be useless for foundations but shallow enough that when they turned various wellhead controls off and on, the hangers would swing around in closets.) When, in the '50s and after, people started building on concrete slabs, the slabs invariably cracked--and their favorite place to crack was across a plumbing line (ideally, the main water service line.) It was possible to have a house with a concrete slab that didn't do that if you used enough reinforcing material, but that was expensive. Fixing leaks in plumbing embedded in concrete was a different, but no more pleasant, problem.
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[User Picture]From: la_marquise_de_
2009-02-26 09:17 am (UTC)
Have you ever come across the song 'The Gasman Cometh' by, I think, Flanders and Swann? It's all too appropriate, alas. (Lyrics are here: http://www.iankitching.me.uk/humour/hippo/gas.html)
I hope you get all this sorted out swiftly.
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[User Picture]From: green_knight
2009-02-26 10:39 am (UTC)
better to find out the floors were about to cave in before they did when someone was perched there.

I'm sorry, but that images reduces me to helpless giggles. (Won't happen here - there's nothing underneath my ground floor that could give.)

Guess this project will be neither on time nor on budget, but at least you'll be happy with the workmanship...

(and yay for a working bathroom each and the successful handover of choir music. Very important.)
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2009-02-26 02:55 pm (UTC)
The way we found out about the first such problem, some years ago, was when I sat down and the whole apparatus tilted a very noticeable amount toward the east.

Not wanting that to happen again to anyone. It is ludicrous, but in the way that truly awful things are ludicrous.

R- has already said that the replacement floor he built is better than the one the carpenter worked on yesterday (and I'm sure he's right. R- builds hell-fer-stout when he builds and he opened a hole big enough to get right down into...) But I'm happy that he's not having to build two floors this time and only hope the repairs last out our lives--which is a more reasonable hope once you pass sixty. If, for instance, the new floors don't rot out for another fifty-odd years, we're home free (so to speak.)
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[User Picture]From: jenrose1
2009-02-26 11:19 am (UTC)
I'm losing track of how many rotten bathroom floors I've fixed at this point.

I now refuse to pull toilets myself.

I'll replace the inner workings of the tank, but anything else? Plumber time.

But OMG... four toilets at once? We've got 3 on our property and every once in a while two of them go out at once. It isn't pretty, but we do have a comode...lol.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2009-02-26 02:57 pm (UTC)
Four toilets at once...well, each house (the one we live in, the one across the street that was my mother's that we're now renting to our son) has two. That's not excessive. And I thought "Get them all done at once, and we're done with the disturbance and mess and it will cost less because of only one trip by the plumber." Hollow laugh time, right?

And one in each house works. That's the crucial thing. Hurray!
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2009-02-26 02:44 pm (UTC)
I may be at fencing, though, since you won't for sure, that doesn't help much.

It depends on the bod. The bod is not happy with all the work necessary to clear a path for the plumber to the back bathroom, and with the stresses of yesterday, but if I can manage it I need to take some costume shirts down there for DRW's apprentice. I would like to have the energy to battle R-, but I don't think that's happening yet. Everyone tells me to slow down, be careful, recovery from pneumonia takes weeks, not days...but I want to be 110% NOW, full of energy NOW, able to do twice as much as usual NOW.

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[User Picture]From: the_blue_fenix
2009-02-26 03:20 pm (UTC)
We lived in a 1950 vintage wooden house for a year and a half. We called it the zombie house because pieces kept falling off. We had a warped bathroom floor but not an actual rotten one, fortunately. Also fortunately the place had two bathrooms so we were never completely without a toilet. Spouse who is good at this (he was building our permanent house elsewhere on the property at the same time) was able to keep the place habitable for just long enough. Not having to use contractors is WONDERFUL.

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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2009-02-26 03:34 pm (UTC)
We did a lot of stuff on this and other places we lived when we were younger. Still doing a fair bit, but there's a time for contractors, when you get older, tireder, and less agile (R- rebuilt a garden shed this year and seeing his not inconsiderable self on the roof of the wobbly thing gave me a wobbly feeling.)
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From: (Anonymous)
2009-02-26 05:27 pm (UTC)
As someone who just finished a bathroom remodel, you have my complete sympathy. The floor wasn't rotted, this time, unlike the last time, but the toilet was leaking due to a rusted off mounting bolt, so it was only a matter of time.

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[User Picture]From: harfafnor
2009-02-26 09:54 pm (UTC)
Really sorry to hear your bathroom woes. Like many others I've experienced this and it wasn't a pleasany adventure. My mom's house was built a few years, not sure how many, before I was born. So it is over 40 now. Before I moved to Atlanta I did all the upkeep. The bathroom was like yours, wood floors which had been leaking for years but no one knew. I had to replace, floor, sink, tub and toilet. I feel your pain. Bad thing is, that was around 20 years ago and it is in need of repairs again. Yeah, another leak but I wasn't around to find and fix before causing damage. Not too much this time though, just buckled floor.

Good luck with the repairs.
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[User Picture]From: jryson
2009-02-26 10:45 pm (UTC)
Sorry to hear you were discommoded. I've been told we have a bathtub approaching that situation.

Have had two toilet floor redo's over my life.

Only thing good about it is the chance to misuse the word "discommode."
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