Holiday Hell

Nightmare. The word almost every­one has been using to describe this hot water sit­u­a­tion. From my friends and cowork­ers, to the plumb­ing tech­ni­cians, to the sales reps, to the con­trac­tors.

When the con­trac­tor came over to make holes in my ceil­ing, he brushed against a pipe that went to the hot water tank, and since it was almost rust­ed com­plete­ly through, it snapped and start­ed leak­ing. Water shoots out of the hole any time I turn the water on, so I’ve had to shut off the main valve. Now I have no water. I can’t wash my hands, I can’t go to the bath­room.

The exhaust pipe that goes to my fur­nace isn’t up to code any­more either, so even if I get all this work done on the house, my ceil­ing would have to be ripped up again when the fur­nace goes. And since mine is 12-years-old and rat­ed for 15 years, it could die on me as soon as three years (or soon­er). So I’ll be get­ting the fur­nace pipe replaced too, which essen­tial­ly dou­bles my pipe instal­la­tion costs.

In addi­tion to mov­ing as much fur­ni­ture out of my room as pos­si­ble into my guest room (there­by rob­bing me of my pho­to stu­dio, Tai Chi prac­tice area, bed­room, and main com­put­er), I’ll have to cov­er the remain­ing things in sheets to pro­tect them from the dust. When the pip­ing is all replaced1, the con­trac­tor needs to come in and patch up the holes, scrape all the stip­ple off my ceil­ing, respray the stip­ple on, and repaint it. I don’t even have an esti­mate of how much that’s going to cost.

The house is my one area of sta­bil­i­ty. Where I retreat to when every­thing else is falling apart. The one place I need to be con­stant. I won’t feel set­tled until it’s all been resolved.

And to think that I was look­ing for­ward to the hol­i­days. I was pic­tur­ing myself enjoy­ing my well-earned time off, eat­ing bacon and eggs, play­ing a few games, and start­ing some new projects.

How far away the image seems now.

  1. And with luck, they won’t refuse to do the job because they don’t have enough clear­ance. []


  1. The last time I had a pipe leak, the wall had to be hacked open, and I had the con­trac­tor install an access pan­el instead of sim­ply back­fill­ing the wall. But it depends on the applic­a­bil­i­ty in each case.

    Copper pipes usu­al­ly last for 20 to 30 years. As long as the plumber has to come to do the pip­ing any­way, repair­ing the sup­ply pipe would just be minor add-on work. As you don’t need to buy any equip­ment such as an elec­tric valve or some­thing, the cost is main­ly on the labour, and it can be esti­mat­ed based on the plumber’s wage plus admin­is­tra­tive cost.

    Hey, just think of it as a camp­ing trip.

    • I could make an access pan­el in the bulk­head of my bath­room, but not the ceil­ing of my room. In either case though, I’m hop­ing I won’t have to change the pipes again until I move out, so I’m just going to get them to rebuild the dry­wall.

      Strangely enough, the labour was­n’t a part of the price; it was the mate­r­i­al used for the pip­ing, charged by the num­ber of sec­tions.

      For repair­ing all the holes and paint­ing though, it’ll def­i­nite­ly be labour and mate­ri­als cost.

      • You’ve proved me wrong. It’s com­mon to charge by lengths for con­struc­tion projects, that’s what they call the all-in rates which are built up from labour and mate­r­i­al cost. For a small job like yours, peo­ple usu­al­ly charge by a lump­sum. Imagine how they would charge if they come all the way to replace a metre of small rusty pipe— not by the num­ber of sec­tions, I bet. Well, it’s always good to get a break­down of labour and mate­r­i­al costs, just so that you know they’re not over­ly rip­ping you off.

        God, I’m just glad your water sys­tem is back to nor­mal.

  2. Man that sucks. I hope your water is work­ing now so you can at least use the toi­let! Hope this isn’t too expen­sive. How long are you off work for? Merry Christmas from me and Steph!

    • Yep, I only had to resort to plas­tic bags once for the bath­room, which I sup­pose is a small vic­to­ry in this cir­cum­stance. The ven­ti­la­tion replace­ment cost $750, but I don’t have an esti­mate of the ceil­ing repair yet.

      • Our kitchen ceil­ing is still torn out from our flood. Don’t know yet when it’s get­ting fixed…insurance is cov­er­ing all the repairs though.

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