i was both excited and nervous about the plumber's visit today: excited because my tub would finally stop leaking and i could get back normal hot water pressure again; nervous because i was afraid how much it was going to cost me. in my mind i figured anywhere from $300-500.
alewife co. called me at 10:15am. i thought it was just to remind me of the appointment between 12-3pm, but it was to let me know the plumber would be arriving in 10 minutes. i didn't mind, the sooner it got done, the sooner i could enjoy normal plumbing service again. i rolled up some hallway rugs i didn't want to get stepped on, and fortunately i'd already tidied up a little earlier, so the house wasn't a total mess.
phil arrived at 10:30am. i saw him circle the block twice, trying to find parking. i met him outside, he said to give him a minute to get his toolkit, which was just a home depot bucket filled with tools and parts.
i first showed him the problem in the bathroom, with the leaking shower/tub toggle, and my low hot water pressure. he climbed into the tub (with a protective towel underneath) and tried to remove the middle chrome sleeve but it wouldn't budge. he said the only way to get it off would be to pry it off, in which case he'd need to order a new sleeve.
we then went down to the basement to see where the tub was leaking. phil had partially filled the tub, and the water was now dripping from the basement pipe. he pushed aside the insulation and took a look at where it was leaking. it wasn't from the shower/tub diverter as i'd originally thought, but rather the straight length of drainage pipe connecting the tub drain to the main drainage. he was able to unscrew the bottom part of the corrode drainage tailpiece but couldn't unscrew the top part because it was stuck together. he ended up cutting through the brass locknut with a hacksaw and managed to remove the corroded pipe. he disappeared briefly to get a replacement tailpiece from his van. the one that i had before was chrome, the replacement was brass. he had it installed in a matter of minutes. i ran upstairs to running the bathtub faucets, there was no more leak.
so i asked him about the hot water pressure and he said it was a common problem with all cambridge pipes. our water is so hard, over the years deposits form inside the pipes, reducing pressure. hot water is especially susceptible since the pressure is already reduced from running through the water tank. he said the only way to fix it would be to replace all the hot water pipes going up into the house, and he couldn't give me an estimate as it was beyond his pay grade. he also said nowadays they use PEX piping because it's not only cheaper but easier to work with since it's flexible. so in the meantime i'd just have to live with having low hot water pressure.
as for the leaking tub diverter, that required ordering a part, and an additional visit if i wanted it fixed. but it was something i could do on my own, just had to remove the old sleeve with a hack saw and then i could remove it and access the cartridge, which would either get replaced or maybe it was just the washer inside.
so finally the only other thing he fixed was to replace the corroded cold water spigot, the one that xiaowu was supposed to replace last week but forgot. while he was doing that i was chatting with him. i asked him how he got into the plumbing business. he told me he father was a plumber (for the military), and as a kid his father would take him to jobs (when he was just 6-7 years old). he went to college and studied engineering and architecture, but didn't like it very much, so fell back into plumbing, which was something he picked up from his father. he said nowadays not a lot of people go into the plumbing business, and most plumbers are 60+ or older. plumbing is hard, especially the older you get, back pains from all the straining and twisting. having said that, one of his son is also a plumber, while another son works as a maintenance manager. i asked him about the torch he was using, he confirmed it was acetylene, as it was much hotter than propane, but some guys don't like using it because the tank is heavier. he worked with gloves or goggles, said he can't feel the pipes when he's wearing gloves, all the while brushing hot solder off of the pipe.
after he got back in his van he wrote out a receipt for me. they take either credit card or check; for credit card he had to call the home office and have someone there run the numbers through their machine. the cost was $240, which was a little high for just replacing the tailpiece and a spigot, and he didn't fix the hot water pressure issue or the leaking bathtub diverter, but he gave me some tips which i will use for my own DIY fixes. the bathtub i'll need to order the replacement parts online, while the hot water issue i can fix on my own by learning how to solder pipes and replace segments at a time until i come across the blockage. the water pressure isn't that bad, i've gotten used to it, and today the kitchen looked okay, while only the bathroom sink looks a little low. the hot water for the shower and washer are both fine.
with that phil left by 12pm, right around the time when the plumbing appointment was actually scheduled to start.
that meant i had the rest of the day free. at one point while phil was here there was a brief downpour, but by the time he left, the sun was out and it looked to be a nice day. i had a bagel for lunch before biking down to the cafe to help my father move some cabinets to the basement. i noticed somebody had thrown out a vitamix blender onto the curb. i told my parents about it and my father and i went out to pick it up. it was missing the lid, one of the rubber feet was missing, and the high speed toggle button was loose, but otherwise everything still worked. these missing parts i can find online.
i left the cafe by 3pm, making my way to the cambridge public works to see if i could get a refund for the hot water tank that somebody had removed yesterday but i don't think it was the city of cambridge. cheryl told me she doesn't get the pickup list until late tomorrow, and told me to call her back to find out if they did or didn't pick up my tank. if not, i'm entitled to a refund.
rest of the day i spent at home. when evening came around i heated up some chili for dinner, ate while watching the lakers-heats game. the heat lead in the first quarter, before the lakers turned it around and totally dominated the game. how would boston have fared again los angeles had they gone to the finals? my feeling is they wouldn't have won. lakers are just too strong, with lebron james, dwight howard, and anthony davis. they play with twin centers, like the old san antonio spurs, not sure the celtics could've competed with them when it came to size. plus the lakers have rajon rondo, it'd break my heart to see rondo play against the celtics.
i found a source for 1080p high quality happy endings episodes, all 3 seasons, so i started rewatching them again. this show was so good, no wonder it's become a cult hit nearly a decade after it first aired.