Water, water, everywhere – Part 1

A very wet week or so

Part 1
Mrs. B tells me that an upstairs bathroom tap is leaking and leaves for work. By way of background information, I’ve never actually observed this leak. Anyway, the search for tools reveals everything I need including washers of all shapes and sizes. So off I go to fix the leaky tap – except it’s one of those wonderful ‘washer-less’ taps that simply takes a cartridge with two O-rings. Off to the hardware store and finally track down a replacement cartridge which costs $14.95. That strikes me as a really bad deal because once upon a time you could fix a leaky tap with a 10-cent washer. After whining at the hardware ‘help’ desk, they reveal that although they do sell replacement O-rings they’ll just give me a replacement cartridge complete since the brand I bought has a lifetime warranty. I take my free replacement home and install it.

When Mrs. B comes home I explain my technical and economic brilliance to which she remarks “The cold tap?? The hot tap was the one that was leaking!!”. Well, I still can’t see a leak from either tap but off I go and replace the hot tap cartridge with the old cold tap cartridge (remember, Mrs. B says that one wasn’t leaking). All is well … until Mrs. B tells me the tap (or taps) are still leaking. And I still can’t see this leak. I suppose I’ll add that to the list of things I need to fix even though they’re not broken????

Part 2.1
A few days later it’s Christmas Day … and one of the kids home for the holidays is complaining there’s no hot water for a shower. Since Christmas Day seems an unlikely time to have done enough laundry to run out of hot water, my guess is that the pilot light has gone out in the (gas-fired) hot water heater. Er, wrong … the hot water heater has shut down because the tank is leaking/has leaked water all over the basement floor!

Since the h/w heater is rented, a quick call to the Gas Company results is a serviceman arriving in under an hour (on Christmas day!). “OK”, he says “The tank needs to be replaced.” I say that’s no problem because it’s a rental tank and therefore the replacement is free. He agrees, except that he can’t install it today because the Building Code has changed and I need a new super-duper chimney insert – estimated cost $350 or so. He calls a super-duper-insert-installer who can’t do it today, but promises to come in the morning.

Part 2.2
We leave home to visit Mrs. B’s sister where we are to have the ‘traditional’ family Christmas lunch/dinner. Everybody shows up, including assorted kids, grandkids, etc. and half-way through the meal – with 20 people sitting down – someone says “There’s water dripping on me”. Sure enough, there’s water dripping through the ceiling from a toilet overflowing upstairs. I’m glad this isn’t my problem.

Part 2.3
Boxing Day arrives, and with it comes the chimney liner installer at 8:30 a.m. He leaves with a cheque for $428 and he’s happy. The hot water tank installer shows up at 10 a.m., does his thing, leaves, and he’s happy. We’re happy too that you can actually get this kind of service on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Not too happy about getting stuck with a bill for $428 because the Building Code changed because if the water heater hadn’t leaked we wouldn’t have cared about code changes and we’d still have the $428! Somehow I doubt my home insurers will think this is covered.

Part 3
Happy New Year … and the dishwasher leaks. It leaks copiously and gets into and under our super-duper floating laminate kitchen floor (six months old or so) which starts delaminating and curling at the edges!!! We’ve had Maytag appliances for decades and they’ve all been trouble-free … except for their dishwashers. This one is a replacement for one that caught fire (no, really!). In five years since, it’s had four service calls to fix leaks, have gaskets replaced, etc. but this is the first time it’s leaked on our super-duper floor. Mrs. B is fit to be tied. Previous leaks just required mopping the ancient vinyl tiles we’ve had since we moved in 18 years earlier (and which we declared needed to be replaced 18 years ago).

Mrs. B tells me to call Maytag and sort them out (i.e. complain loud and long) and call the insurers as well. Maytag’s 800 number is ‘closed’ for the holidays and I get the same cheerful message from my insurers. I guess they could both learn something about service from my gas company.

Final score
Let’s see: the leaky taps were fixed (maybe) for only the cost of gas to get to the hardware store; the leaky water heater was fixed for $428; the dishwasher, and the kitchen floor – waiting with bated breath – ought to be free, but I have a nasty feeling that’s going to cost me money as well.

This event occurred in 2003/2004

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