Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Jiggling the Handle - Part Two

Recall in our latest exciting Episode, our hero (Moi) had just
completed an extensive plumbing repair, and was taking a
well-earned rest.

...Our story continues...

As I laid down to take a well-deserved nap, I was suddenly
startled by the sound of water gushing against the wall in a
pretty strong stream...

Since I was only semi-conscious (a state that I seem to be in a
lot, lately), it took me a few minutes to realize what may have
been happening here...

I dashed into the bathroom to find a powerful stream of water
blasting out of the damn riser valve at a velocity of about
several gallons per minute.

My first thought is panic...how to stop this, and stop it
quickly! You know what kind of damage water will do, especially
originating on the second floor!

Going through my mind...calling a plumber...by the time he gets
here, the whole upper floor will have collapsed onto the ground

As you may know, most residences in the US have the main water
valve at the street in front of the house under a grate...and
the only way to turn off the water is by using a 'water
key'...which is a big stiff metal rod with two prongs on it.
You have to get down there and really turn on the thing to get
it to turn off. Most people don't have a water key...a pipe
wrench might do it in a pinch.

You must procure a pipe wrench, and get out there and find the
water meter, and all the while, since you are panicking, you are
not thinking clearly or efficiently.

I thank the Lord that we have had an additional water shut-off
valve installed just outside the front door with a simple ball
valve. It was just a matter of digging into the dirt to find it.
I knew it was there somewhere, buried under weeds and plants
(I am so glad that we have holly bushes in the front, all the
scratches I am getting will make me appear to be working really
hard at this).

Success! I crank the valve off (lefty loosey-righty tighty).
I run back into the house to make sure the ceiling is still in
one piece. The water has shut off, giving us some breathing room.

My lovely bride is already up there trying to mop up the water
with towels, and she is getting most of it up before it has a
chance to drain down through the drywall and come through the
ceiling downstairs.

So now that I have a chance to breathe, I can see that the
break has come from the cheapo water valve that was originally
installed in this house. These marvels of human engineering
are not designed to be turned off and on...imagine... a valve
that is not supposed to be turned.

So when I was fixing the problem with the running tank, I had
to turn off the valve, and bend the metal tubing to the side
just a bit...just enough to compromise the integrity of the
tube. Turn on valve, increase pressure...and we have a major
structural failure. The picture below is the replaced valve,
all nice and shiny and new:

Had this event occurred during the daytime when we were at
work, we would have come home to find a single story house
with a huge cathedral ceiling...complete with a nice lap pool in
the family room. I can't thank God enough that this did not happen.

As it is, the damage was limited to a few attractive abstract
stains on the downstairs ceiling...kind of like ink blots, yes?
(It doesn't actually look this bad, I upped the contrast so you
can see the pattern better).

And now, The Daughter is complaining that the toilet in HER
bathroom is running...should she submit the form?

See Option One: Just jiggle the damn handle!

Peace be with you.


  1. Look at you Mr. Handyman!!! I would have been more than a little miffed at a geyser in my bathromm!

  2. Oh my god!

    I would have cried when all the water started gushing out. Seriously, I don't know what I would have done. Maybe I would've yelled at it too. Through my tears :P

    Hope it won't happen again! (thank god you were home!)

  3. The sense of panic and helplessness was there. We live in a world where our material possessions are so important to us...and I am guilty of this too. But the worst part would have been dealing with the hassles of a huge re-construction project going on in the house had the interior of the house been destroyed.

  4. Ooooh... that would have been bad. I'm so glad you were home...

    I also have a water shut off valve inside the house (dad showed me or I wouldn't have a clue), it's behind a little door in a closet.