From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Week of Plumbing Woes

All In The Family... The Rural Life...



It started last Friday night (a week ago) when we suddenly lost water pressure. In morning light, we discovered that water from our county water lines was pouring into our well -- the old stone-lined, hand-dug well.

The plumbing company that put in our county water line did not cap off the line from the house to the old well as they should have; rather they put a stop in the line, and the stop blew out. (County water is supposed to be kept totally separate from well water. It was done illegally but we didn't know what they'd done and the plumbing inspector obviously didn't check it!)

It was the weekend, so we turned off the water and waited. On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday we called plumbers and waited for them to show up. They promised they would come out, then stood us up. I guess they thought it was too small of a job for the distance they'd have to drive.

Wednesday night, I finally called my brother and asked him how to fix it. He told us how to cap off the line, we did what he said, and it went fine. We were elated. Water at last! (We should have called Dwight on Saturday!)

Then in an unfortunate and unforeseen accident, the shut-off valve broke when we were turning the water to the house back on! Our happiness turned instantly to misery. We truly could have cried.

The valve is underground, and you have to reach deep into a 6-inch tube to turn it on. When the valve broke, water started pouring out of the tube like it was an open fire hydrant (only a mild exaggeration.) We had to make a fast trip down to the highway to turn off the water at the meter.

Six inches is not enough room to do plumbing in, so we pulled out the tube and enlarged the hole. I cannot describe what a muddy mess that was. With high groundwater plus all the water that poured out of the line, water was standing over the valve that we needed to replace. Every time we bailed out the hole, it filled right back up.

Desperately, I called every plumber in the phone book again. (I was so desperate I even called the plumber I once threatened to report to the Better Business Bureau.) Not one of them gave me a glimmer of hope. We worried all night about what we would do now, and I prayed earnestly that please, somehow the water could be fixed so we could have some kind of a normal life again.

This story ends happily. Dennis called my cell phone just after I dropped Isaac off at school this morning. "We've got a plumber," he said -- what wonderful words! One of the messages I'd left on an answering machine had been answered. Within a couple hours, the valve was replaced, and the water was back on. The plumber had a submersible pump that kept the water out of the hole so he could work.

Meanwhile, another plumber called to say he could come out and fix our water problem. Where were all these plumbers days ago?!?

At any rate, we have running water again, and hopefully, this will be the end of the plumbing problems for a while. Now we have to see whether the water bill is high enough to warrant claiming a water leak. And we've filled up all our emergency water containers again, so we're ready for the next time.

Dennis and I do quite a few things, but we are not plumbers. Through necessity, we are learning a bit about it, though. Ugh.

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1 comment:

Sarabeth said...

Yick! What a week!

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CONTENTMENT: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry, live simply, expect little, give much, sing often, pray always, forget self, think of others and their feelings, fill your heart with love, scatter sunshine. These are the tried links in the golden chain of contentment.
(Author unknown)

IT IS STILL BEST to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasure; and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong.
(Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1867-1957)

Thanks for reading.