I like to consider myself an optimist. In bad situations I try to find a silver lining, even if it is a sliver. Sometimes I find lessons to learn and other times I just sit back, full of thanks that things simply didn’t turn out as bad as they could have been.
Well, with my most recent DIY, home improvement project gone wrong, all I can come up with at the moment is:
1. I don’t have to clean under my washer and dryer for another 3-4 years and
2. I am the proud owner of 3 shiny new nipples.
I can only enjoy so many DIY shows on TV before I have to tear something up and try to put it back together again hopefully more beautiful. The fact that my sister is moving and talking about paint colors AND that my parents are remodeling, lessened the number of shows I needed to watch before cracking.
I do want you to know that Rick was NOT in the dark about this upcoming project. Just before he was heading to bed, the evening before the half bath makeover, I asked him to carry the toilet out to the garage with his big man muscles and put it beside the sink that I had already disassembled and carried out myself. I could tell he was about to say something so I jumped in sweetly saying, “Please, Rick, promise you’ll never say ‘NO’ to me when it comes to DIYing, OK?” “Think of all the money I’m saving us.”
I could hardly get the kids and Rick out the door that morning fast enough. I put on my home improvement clothes that have paint colors on them from my very first house I enjoyed DIYing. My plan was to have my half bath, off the laundry room, torn up and then magazine ready beautiful again before they all got home that evening. You know, just a little face lift.
Demo Day was going about without a hitch. I confidently tore out tile and drywall, puffed up a bit I believe from my successful plumbing the night before. I was already thinking about the hamburger and curly fries from Hardees I would eat at lunch that always makes me feel more like a real contractor who knows what I’m doing. Additionally, a salad with hold nearly everything I love about salad wouldn’t get me through the rigors of my day.
The last thing to demo was the mirror. I had my safety glasses on and a big blanket in the floor waiting with arms open wide to catch the shards. I used my mini crow bar and pried it from the side. The glass popped and cracked and then a huge piece fell straight down and landed directly on my cold-water pipe. Once the crashing of glass sound stopped I heard a hissing. I looked down at the pipe and saw a small spray of water forcefully spraying toward the ceiling and the pipe bent toward the floor. I instinctively lifted the pipe up to stop the spray and it worked!!!
…for just a second before the entire pipe broke loose in my hand and I was hit about knee level by an extremely forceful gush of water. Now I’ve never been to Yellow Stone National Park to see Old Faithful erupt but I can’t imagine it would stir that much more excitement in me than the active geyser I had on display within my own home.
I tried to put my thumb over the hole and almost heard the water laugh at me. I shut the door to the bathroom but could hardly think over the sound of the water blasting against the backside of the door. I began to dance around and I believe I even said, “what do I do, what do I do” out loud.
I was trying to keep it together but couldn’t stop thinking about Rick and all the money I promised him I was saving us. I would almost come up with an action plan then become interrupted by a thought like, “I wonder how much it would cost to replace the entire EAST end of my house damaged by water.”
My Dad, who has come to more than 1 DIY rescue, was out of town. I called The City of Lewisburg and the woman answering the phone was not excited enough about what was going on at my house so I hung up.
“I have to cut it off at the source!” “Where’s the source though!” “Think, think, think, Susan!”
I quickly remembered one beautiful summer evening playing ball with the with the kids in the yard. While running after a ball my leg unexpectedly fell into a manhole in the back corner of the yard. I remember not being positive about this situation at the time and arguing with Rick that evening that we needed to sue the city or something but he shot me down. I remember telling him, with possibly a hint of sass, “If it had been one of your legs pointing into a hole that someone didn’t cover appropriately, while your other leg was bent up behind you like you were jumping a hurdle, you would expect at least a pass on property taxes for a couple years.” Well, until now I hadn’t found the silver lining behind that most mis-fortunate event but I figured that hole I found years ago was where I could place a tourniquet on my present water situation.
I looked into the hole and was unsure what to turn. Having just broken a mirror and the immediate events following, I was insecure to guess. I called for help who was coming, but 20 minutes away. I began to think…
1. Stand around and watch water shoot out of a 5/8 inch pipe at what must be nothing short of 100 gallons per second into my home for the next 20 minutes,
2. Guess correctly and turn off the water,
3. Guess incorrectly and blow out a main water line that would put my present water geyser to shame, or
4. Get in my car and drive away forever.
With much trepidation, I went with option 2 and it work!!! The water stopped.
My help arrived to significantly less excitement but to me wet and muddy head to toe. He came into the house and inspected the damage. My relief that things were looking up dissipated quickly when he went on to tell me that the end of my nipple was broken off inside the pipe in the wall!!!
Most likely spurred by the look of confusion mixed with a hint of horror on my face my hero quickly stated, “Don’t worry. I can get it out.”
After a large exhale and a, “Well thank goodness” I watched him closely, noting his every move just in case I, or one of my close friends, ever found themselves in this type of plumbing situation again.
Can I just interrupt myself for a second and say that while I am refraining to expound upon all my inner most thoughts right now, if my water emergency assistant said “nipple” once he said it 100 times before driving off and with each time I found it exponentially more challenging to maintain my concerned expression.
Well, he did get that tiny tip of nipple out and replaced it with a new, shiny one and quarter turn valve that made the other 2 nipples and valves in the room look dull and old. It was almost as if that new nipple was saying, “Hey everyone, look at me and how beautiful I am.” I could hardly stand it.
Thinking of no better time than when my source of water was cut off at the street and when my plumbing lesson was fresh in my head, I pulled out of the driveway as soon as I lost sight of my helper’s truck and took off for Lowe’s to get 2 more new nipples and quarter turns valves. Then easy-peasy, in less than 1 hour and no more than 1/2 roll of plumber’s tape, I had 3 shiny new nipples. Just like that.
Then fearful of the possibility that water was hiding out up under my washer and dryer, and them falling through the sub-floor to the crawl space in the next few months due to water rot, and unsure how I would go about explaining THAT to Rick, I pulled them out and cleaned, finding many lost items and plenty of lint and dirt.
After things had calmed down and I had time to reflect on my morning’s events, I was unsure if saying “Thank You” an annoying number of times was sufficient repayment for my hero’s trouble. I found my To-Do list and added, “buy Dicky’s gift card.” Now it was nearly time for a contractor sized lunch but who wouldn’t feel repaid with good BBQ. I mean come on.