I hate plumbing.
Don’t get me wrong — I prefer it to having to out back to an outhouse, especially since it gets pretty chilly in Central Ohio during the wintertime.
But I hate dealing with it. It is never, ever easy to fix, and it is the thing that seems to break most often in every house I’ve ever lived in.
I sat down to pen a new masterpiece yesterday afternoon. I opened my laptop, got comfy, and began to type.
I wrote three whole sentences before my stepson came upstairs to say, “Hey, John, there’s a sink or something leaking in the basement.”
We don’t have a sink in the basement, so I’m not sure what he thought had gone wrong, but he knew water didn’t belong on the floor, so he should come tell me about it.
What had actually happened was that a piece of polyurethane tubing had broken, enabling water from the heater to spill onto the floor.
This sounds like an easy problem to fix. But your ears deceive you.
The tubing was connected to some sort of backflow control device, and it had snapped off inside the apparatus. Not knowing what the thing was and hating plumbing, I disconnected the whole assembly and took it down to my local hardware store (which is quite excellent), showed them the piece, and asked for a new one.
This is where the odyssey began.
They had no idea what the hell this thing was. They sent me to a plumbing wholesaler place they figured would have anything I needed.
This place was way the hell down in central Columbus — a 20-minute drive over the highway when it isn’t rush hour. But it was rush hour.
I spent the last of my gas fighting my way through traffic to find this place, went in, and handed it to the three experts behind the counter.
And NONE OF THEM knew what the hell it was.
They looked it up on the Internet, determined it was nothing they — a plumbing supply wholesaler — would carry, and directed me to Lowe’s.
You know, the discount, every-person place, not a specialty plumbing wholesaler. Because that makes sense.
Did I mention I hate plumbing?
So I put a little gas in and started back home, when I saw there was a Lowe’s off the very next exit. I got off went in, and found someone to help me.
Three different people in the plumbing department at Lowe’s had no idea what the hell this thing was.
However, they at least spent some time trying to help me find some sort of solution. We looked at polyurethane tubing to replace the one that had cracked off. Naturally, their smallest size was 1/2″, and I needed 3/8″.
They recommended I order what I needed off the Internet. Okay, but how does that help me today?
I examined the tubing and began to imagine a different solution. The strange apparatus that no one knew what it was or what it did was threaded on the outside. The cracked 3/8″ tubing had been secured inside with a coupling. I wondered if I could just put some tubing on the outside and secure it with a band of some sort.
I picked up a piece of 1″ tubing to have a look. Not only was that the right size, I discovered I could screw it onto the threaded end of the mystery device and have it fit snugly.
What my brother calls a cob-job began to look like a real possibility to me.
I bought the 1″ tubing and went home, once again fighting horrific rush-hour traffic. I got home, screwed the tubing onto the unknown apparatus, reconnected it to the line from the water heater, and then jammed the whole thing into the drainage pipe.
My stepson ran another load of laundry. All the water went where it was supposed to go instead of on the floor. I felt like a genius.
A genius who had driven halfway across the city during rush hour to go to three different stores, all to find a $4 piece of plastic.
I hate plumbing.