Wednesday, April 9, 2008

48 hours, two trips to Home Depot, and three calls to the plumber later...

It all started out with a small crack in the ceiling...

It was nothing that hadn't happened before. Water had leaked from the boys' bathroom down to the top of the downstairs bathroom many times over the years. The water dries up and life goes on.

But then water started dripping from the ceiling onto the floor. And kept dripping. And dripping. Eventually Ralph went to investigate, reached up and pushed on the crack, and a small river flowed down his arm. Uh oh. He prodded a little more, and a handful of soggy drywall came off into his hand. Oh s***. Shining a flashlight into the now tennis-ball sized hole in the ceiling, we could see water dripping from the pipe above. Time to call a plumber. Seeing as how it was already 9:00 P.M. on Sunday, we decided to pray instead and call a plumber in the morning.

The next morning, the first thing the plumber did was saw an end-table-sized hole into the ceiling:

He found it was the pipe above the one showing in the picture that was leaking onto it. From the toilet. Great, we have toilet water leaking into our bathroom. (As a coworker said later, "Hey, it could be worse. It could have been leaking into the kitchen.") The plumber went upstairs to investigate and showed me that the toilet wasn't even bolted down properly to the floor. "So any little wiggle would cause movement and that toilet valve will snap." I asked him what needed to be done and when he described everything and told me the cost ($275), I told him to go ahead and I called Ralph to give him an update.

"That's exactly what I did on the other toilet! I can fix that myself!" Famous. Last. Words.

I dismissed the plumber after giving him his $68 flat fee, and went on with my day. When Ralph got home we went Home Depot to get the necessary supplies.

Now, to be fair, he really did fix the other toilet, and even though it was a hassle, it hasn't leaked since. So I was confident he could do the same on this one. The man at HD told us we had the right supplies and gave some "helpful" hints (which would later hinder the solution by about 36 hours).

The next four hours went something like this:

Ralph runs up and down the stairs approximately 500 times, turning the water off and on from the main valve.

I try and fill some pots, cups, and pitchers with water so I can make dinner.

The boys' baseball coach drops the boys off and stays to help Ralph.

Peez (the youngest) has to go to the bathroom. Water is turned back on. Ralph tells him to use a different toilet, and continues on the broken one.

Toilet water rains down in the bathroom. I run to put buckets underneath the hole.

Ralph yells to the coach to turn off the water.

I wash veggies in a measuring cup and use a pot of water I've collected from the sink to make Kool Aid for the boys.

More rain in the bathroom. I try and mop it up in between putting pork chops in the oven and browning rice, washing my hands in the water I've collected in the sink since I don't want to mix toilet water and dinner.

Boys eat dinner and wipe their plates with napkins before putting them in the dishwasher since we can't rinse them off.

Water comes back on; more rain in the bathroom. Ralph yells; water gets turned back off.

Boys brush their teeth with remaining pitcher of water in the kitchen.

Coach leaves.

Water is turned back on; no one is allowed to use the toilet in the boys' bathroom.

The next morning:

I go off to work; Ralph the Toilet Wrangler continues his mission, which has been derailed by the advice that the "knowledgeable" Home Depot employee gave him.

12:00 PM: Ralph calls the plumber from the day before, who had graciously offered to talk him through it over the phone.

2:00 PM: Ralph admits defeat and calls back Brian the plumber.

3:45 PM: Brian arrives.

3:55 PM: Problem is fixed. We pay our now good friend Brian $150.

After shaking his head at how quickly good ol' Brian fixed the toilet, Ralph laughs it off, whereas I would have been furious. If I had just spent a total of over 10 hours running up and down the stairs and hunched over in uncomfortable positions trying to deal with one stupid bolt/valve/whachamacallit that someone fixes in less than 10 minutes, I would have screamed. He really is a good sport.

Now we just have to find someone who knows how to put up dry wall.

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