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A Plumbing We Will Go


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2 replies to this topic

#1 PDuff

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Posted 25 August 2013 - 01:06 PM

We all know that we have to be careful with certain valves and fixtures when disconnecting or connecting fill hoses or water lines.  The older the fixture the more care has to used to avoid damage.  But sometimes, stuff happens.

 

Years ago I ran a call on a coin slide washer not filling in a small apartment complex.  The laundry room had maybe three washers and three dryers in all.  After quickly diagnosing a bad water inlet valve on the washer, I reached to the hot water fixture on the wall to turn off the water.  On the first turn of the valve handle the whole valve assembly came off in my hand, allowing a full pressure stream of hot water to hit me square in the chest.  I quickly tried to hold my hand over the broken pipe as I looked for something, anything I could use from my tool bag to plug it until I could find the main water shutoff.  Meanwhile, I'm completely drenched and water is rising on the floor.  It was then that I noticed the electric dryer right next to me, getting sprayed with it's own fair amount of water.  That's when the voice inside my head screamed, "That's 240 volts, forget plugging the leak and find the shutoff, idiot"!

 

So I run out of the laundry room like a bat out of hell searching for the shutoff.  Around the corner I see what must be a mechanical room.  As I burst through the door the first thing I see is a kid, maybe 14 or 15 years old, sitting on the floor with his back against the wall.  Oblivious as to why this kid is sitting inside a dark utility room in the middle of the day I roar, "WHERE'S THE MAIN SHUTOFF"?  The kid, frozen in fear, said nothing.  I turn away from him and find the water heater with the shutoff valve.  I turn off the water and secure the circuit breakers to the dryers.  As I turn to leave the mechanical room I see the kid has disappeared.  I went back to the laundry room and cleaned up as much water as I could, repaired the washer, and radioed the shop (cell phones not invented yet) to advise the owner of what happened.  Owner shows up and I hand him the bill and tell him that he needs a plumber.  I also ask him if he had kid living in the utility room and he says no.  So I figure the kid must've been playing hooky or was a runaway.  Chuckling, I think to myself, if he wasn't a runaway he sure as hell is now.

 

Fortunately, I'm not too far from home, so I decide to stop and put on a dry uniform (and underwear, socks, shoes etc.).  As I walk in the door I see the wife sitting down watching television.  As I'm standing there, with water pooling at my feel, she points at me and begins laughing hysterically.  Before I could yell at her I noticed what she was watching on TV.  It was a Three Stooges episode named "A Plumbing We Will Go".  The scene was Curly in the bathroom trying to stop a full on leak after breaking a water fixture.  I don't know what flabbergasted me most, a female watching The Three Stooges or seeing an instant replay of my previous service call.

 

I know art imitates life but give me a friggin' break.


Edited by PDuff, 25 August 2013 - 01:07 PM.


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#2 DurhamAppliance

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Posted 25 August 2013 - 02:57 PM

Thanks for reminding me Pduff! I said I need to carry my 1/2 inch pex crimper and some caps or a shark byte cap. when messing with a washer, just in case this happens again because
this just happened to me in a customers apartment about 6 months ago. Water flooded her laundry room and caused some water damage to the unit below. The water gushed out with extreme force. No cutoff to be found. Tenant was useless. With one hand occupied to try and slow the water flow, I punched through the sheetrock and was able to take apart the pex pipe. This way I was able to cover the pipe with my thumb.

Tenant finally got a hold of the maintenance department. They told her the cutoff was inside a bedroom closet. Again she was useless. Maintenance was coming so i decided to hold my position. Every so often, however, the pressure and pain became too great and another round of water shot through the room and over me.

Finally maintenance arrived and shut off the water. Despite my shirt logo and company name emblazoned on the back, he thought I was the tenant's husband. I did nothing to encourage this belief but neither did I do anything to correct it Although it was a faulty faucet, I like my insurance premium just the way it is.

Durham Appliance Thrift & Repair, LLC

www.DurhamApplianceThrift.com


#3 john63

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Posted 26 August 2013 - 01:24 AM

Flat-out hysterical, PDuff:)

 

Reminded me of a fiasco of my own---back in '86 or '87.

 

A property owner contacted us to repair an old style GE washer (with the bell-shaped transmission).

 

Back then---a friend of mine was working with me---as an employee.

 

Both of us arrived at the rental home and found that the washer was in the kitchen---the hot and cold copper water pipes were obviously installed by an amateur (likely by the landlord). Each pipe came through two holes that were drilled into the kitchen floor and were totally unsupported---just swaying back and forth.

The spigots were even worst---very poor quality propane-and-solder work.

 

I don't recall what the problem with the washer was---but we provided an estimate for the repair to the property owner---with the stipulation that the plumbing be properly corrected by a professional plumber before attempting any service.

The owner agreed and told us that he would call us when the plumber had finished---to re-schedule a return visit.

 

Several days later---we arrived at the home and were surprised to find that *nothing* had been done by a plumber.

The tenant explained to us that although he knew we were going to inform the property owner about the piss-poor condition of the water lines---nothing had been done. We explained that the landlord told *us* that the plumbing had been replaced/repaired.

 

At this moment---I should have "thrown the ball back in the property owner's lap---but didn't.

 

I decided to chance it---and very gingerly attempt to shut off the water valves---both of the water fill hoses needed to be removed to move forward with the repair.

 

As the tenant and my friend/employee watched---I barely had placed my hand on the spigot handle---when it popped right off.

Instinctively---I placed my hand on the open pipe to at least slow down the fountain that was now gushing upward and landing at the middle of the kitchen floor.

 

The water was becoming quite hot:)

 

I asked the tenant if he knew where the secondary spigots were located.

 

He told us that it was in the bathroom---on the other side of the wall.

 

My friend and the tenant left the room---while I kept using my hand to mitigate the amount of ever-hotter-water from flooding the kitchen.

 

A minute or two later he returns and says: "The handles are missing on both valves".

 

I say: "Try using a pair of pliers to turn the spigot stems".

 

He grabs pliers and leaves---only to return rather quickly and says: "I can't turn them off---even with pliers,there's nothing to grab at."

 

At this point the water is getting a trifle too hot to handle---I let go of the broken pipe---and rush towards the bathroom.

 

Sure enough---the water valve handles are indeed missing---and worst---the valve stems are *recessed* and cannot be turned with anything other than a handle *designed* to fit those stems.

 

All of us trot back into the kitchen to view the cascading fountain of steaming hot water gushing all over the kitchen floor.

 

I asked the tenant if he knew the location of the main water shut-off.

 

He says: "Yes---in the basement."

 

Instantly all of us run out the back door of the kitchen into the dark night (winter) and approach a small set of concrete steps leading down into the basement.

 

The tenant grabs the door handle to open the basement door---but it's locked. There's a rather serious looking keyed deadbolt type lock on the door.

 

I ask the tenant if he has a key to his own basement----without saying anything he ran off back into the house.

 

A few moments later---he returns and says: "No.".

 

 

Flabbergasted---I'm thinking that by now---there's enough hot water pouring out of that broken pipe to sink the Titanic at this point.

 

My friend had the presence of mind to bring a flashlight---and I looked at him and said: "We're going in."

 

With that---I kicked open the basement door and took a moment to contemplate my next course of action.

 

Water was raining down through the flooring like the Niagara Falls. At least a foot of water has accumulated in the basement.

 

Unlike you PDuff---rather than fear of electrocution---I feared a continuing/worsening calamity:)

 

I turned to my friend and said: "You stay here, I'm going in to find that shut off valve. I don't want TWO us dead---so I'll go."

 

Wading through the swimming pool with the flashlight---I did find and turn off the water after taking perhaps 4 steps (fortunately).

 

Water continued to rain down all around me.

 

After things were under control---we told the tenant that we're contacting the owner to inform him of the flooding and the need to address not only the flooded basement and kitchen---but the broken water pipe.

 

In an odd twist---the landlord was actually apologizing to us for not having a plumber correct the faulty plumbing---and took full responsibility for whole fiasco. No insurance claim/nothing.

 

A lesson learned :)


Edited by john63, 26 August 2013 - 01:27 AM.

To eliminate:

Musty odor

L-O-N-G cycle times

Dingy/yellowing whites

Suds error message

Slow spin speeds

Intermittent water leaks (from rear of washer)

And other annoying symptoms which vary brand-to brand.

Read below:

The *correct* amount of HE (High Efficiency) detergent that should be used in any front load or agitatorless top load washer with tub sizes 3.0 cu ft and larger is as follows:

HE: (2) Tablespoons Per Wash Load

HE 2X: (1) Tablespoon

HE 3X: (1) Teaspoon

Perform a TUB CLEAN CYCLE every (4) months.

Use: "Tide Washing Machine Cleaner"




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