If I didn’t laugh, I’d cry

Life is funny.  So are home repair projects.  At least that’s what I tell myself. Otherwise I’d just go crazy.

Last weekend I had a friend come over and help me with replacing the … whatever it’s called … that goes on the bottom of the outside door.  It’s the thing that closes the gap between the bottom of the door and the threshold. (It’s called a door sweep.)  I went to Home Depot and, although I couldn’t find exactly what I wanted, got something close.  Mike came over and helped me take the door off (it’s a heavy door and a two-man job).  We took off the old strip, screwed the new one on, and re-hung the door.

Satisfied with a job well done, we grabbed a couple of beers and went to sit outside.  Debra came out a while later to inform us that there was a “huge gap” under the door.  Sure enough, the thing I picked up at Home Depot wasn’t big enough to cover the space between the door and the threshold.  Debra picked up a new one at Lowes, so I’ll have to install that one this weekend.

Yesterday afternoon, Debra noticed that one of the valves outside had a pinhole leak. We’ve had trouble with this valve freezing before. It’s on the north side of the house and if we get a few days of freezing temperatures in a row, the valve freezes and cracks.  We’ve tried lots of ways to prevent that, none of which have worked well. So one of the things I’ll need to do before next winter is build a box with a little heater (probably a 100 watt light bulb) in it.  But that’s next year. The valve needs to be replaced now.

The intent was for me to take the valve off this morning, go get the replacement, and install it.  But then my truck started running rough last night when I was on my way home.  So the plan this morning was for me to turn off the water, remove the valve, have Debra follow me to the shop where I’d drop off my truck, and then have me drop her off at work so that I could have the car to go back home and install the new valve.  A little wrinkle but simple enough, right?

At first light this morning I walked up to the meter (about 300 feet from the house) and turned off our valve.  I went back to the house, turned on the faucet to drain the lines, and … the water kept running.  Looks like my water shutoff valve at the street is broken.  Okay, so it’s 20+ years old. I’ll have to replace that next.  But there’s another valve:  the service valve on the other side of the meter (the one that the water company can use to shut off my water and then lock).

So back up to the meter to turn off the service valve.  I really need to get one of those keys, because turning the thing with a pair of pliers is a pain.  I turned it perpendicular like I’m supposed to, trudged back to the house, turned on the faucet and … the water kept running.  Great.  I can slow the water flow, but can’t stop it.

With no way to turn off the water, we took the truck to the shop and then headed out to take Debra to work.  I called the water company to inform them of the broken valve. They didn’t believe me, but agreed to send somebody out “sometime today.”

Debra works for a pipe company, so I talked to one of the guys in the warehouse. After a bit of discussion I hit on the idea of taking the valve off (with the water still on) and then capping the pipe.  Should work, provided I can reduce the water flow enough so that the pressure doesn’t prevent me from putting the cap on.

Back at home I turned off both valves at the meter, attached a hose to the faucet that’s also attached to where the valve is (there’s a “T”), ran the hose to the middle of the yard, and turned on the water.  Then, armed with a pipe wrench, I began removing the broken ball valve, knowing full well that I was going to get wet.  And I did.  Drenched.  But I was successful in removing the valve and attaching the cap.  So at least now there’s no leak.

What was going to be a simple 1-hour job (including running for parts) turned out to be about three hours, and I’m only half done.  Plus, there’s another job I have to do–replace the valve at the meter.  On the plus side, if my valve hadn’t gone out I wouldn’t have discovered that the service valve was faulty.

The water company guy called me this afternoon to say that their valve at the meter was indeed broken, and that he’d replaced it.  It was nice to know that I’m not totally crazy.  And there really was something wrong with the truck. One of the ignition coils went out, so only half of the cylinders were firing.  I had them replace both coils, figuring that if one went out after 15 years then the other is likely to go soon, too.  Most of the cost is labor, anyway, and most of that is removing all the shrouds and such so you can get to the dang coils.

So, yeah, I laugh.  I could get angry or sad, but that wouldn’t help anything.  At least laughing means that something good comes from these unexpected events.