Home > Not 1, not 2 but 3 plumbing issues in a 24-hour period

Not 1, not 2 but 3 plumbing issues in a 24-hour period

April 1st, 2018 at 04:04 pm

Happy Easter and Happy Passover to all my SA friends.

I went to see my friend R. yesterday. He was supposed to go for his 4th chemo treatment this past week but the doctor thought his tumors were getting bigger after 9 weeks of treatment. If he confirms this on Monday, he'll be switched immediately to a different chemo drug. Apparently, roughly half of cancer patients don't respond to the first chemo drugs and have to go on the next one.

All things considered, R. is probably doing as well (mentally) as could be expected. His focus is very much on wrapping things up, decluttering his condo so his family doesn't have to do as much. He shared with me earlier this week his very irreverent obituary, which he wrote himself. He has lost most of his hair, and what he has left has gone completely white. That was a little bit of a shock to me.

He said it's still possible the 2nd cancer drug could put the cancer in remission and he could live another 5 years. Or he could die within the year.

Plumbing woes...
The other day I cleaned the bathtub, and to rinse it out, I pushed the lever on the tub valve down to get water from the lower faucet.

That lever has been very stiff and hard to move for a while (it's about 20 years old) and when I went to take a shower that night, I couldn't pull it up. Wonderful. I was thinking I would have to call a plumber and replace the fixtures, paying probably $200 for the plumber's time and another $200 for a very nice fixture I picked out at Lowe's.

But I'd rather defer replacement for as long as possible, so I researched stuck shower/tub valves and decided to try soaking the tub valve in vinegar, contained in a plastic bag with rubber bands to secure it, overnight.

It worked!

I was able to pull up the lever so I get water coming out of the shower head. However, it was still hard to pull up, so I'm going to try never pushing it back down again.

Now, amazingly, I have a second plumbing challenge.

I came home yesterday to hear loud banging noises and sputtering when I turned any of my faucets on/flushed the toilets, and the water was brown. Kind of alarming. Like there was air in the pipes. I doubt the water company was doing any work on them on a Saturday.

After a few minutes of running the water, it turned clear and stopped the banging noises. However, I still had a significant loss of water pressure in the bathroom faucet, which could mean some corroded bits of old galvanized pipe could have broken loose and created a clog. I also tried to check the aerator on the bathroom faucet but it didn't seem to be the type that you can pry off or remove. I soaked it overnight in vinegar anyway.

Then after reading more online, I went to look at the faucet again, and this time I realized what looked to be one piece was in fact not, and I could unscrew the aerator off. It was clogged with sediment and very rusty. I tried turning on the water with the aerator off and lots of rusty water splashed out. At least I solved the low flow problem! I cleaned up the aerator and put it back on. Problem solved.

Smugly, feeling I had now resolved TWO problems which could easily have led to a call to the plumber, I decided I wanted to try flushing out my electric hot water heater, which I know you're supposed to do once a year, but haven't in the 5 years I've had it.

I printed out instructions from online although I "generally" knew what to do. First step, shutting off power at the circuit breaker. Check. Next, shut off the cold water inlet valve at top of heater. As soon as I did that, I noticed it leaking water right from the shut off valve. Great. I tried to shut it off more tightly, still leaking. I used a set of pliers to try to tighten the nut and that did help a little and it's now a very slow leak, but i had to shut off the water entirely or it leaked more.

So i think that's a temporary fix (i have a glass under the valve and will monitor how quickly it fills up) and I will still have to call a plumber, I think. An easy fix for a plumber to replace the valve, but not for me.

If I call a plumber just to replace that valve, I'll be billed for the service call, probably the full hour, even if it takes him 10 minutes to replace. So now I'm thinking maybe I should go ahead and replace the shower/tub fixtures since he's going to be here anyway.

5 Responses to “Not 1, not 2 but 3 plumbing issues in a 24-hour period”

  1. Dido Says:

    Wow, 3 challenges and at least 2 of them solved yourself--nice!

    You are a far braver soul than I. Maybe I would dare to try the soaking in vinegar, but anything that involves a tool--just the thought is inducing a panic attack! I basically consult my neighbor two doors down. If it is simple, he will fix things (e.g., he re-caulked my bathtub and replaced two of my basement steps), and if not, he will give me an idea whom to call. There's a handyman who lives just behind me who I will have do simple things that are more than I will ask my neighbor to do for free (e.g., a drywall patch job), or if it's more than basic, I'll call in a professional plumber or electrician, etc.

  2. PatientSaver Says:

    Thanks... plumbers are sooo expensive. I'm willing to venture out of my comfort zone to try small DIY fixes if it could possibly save me a big unexpected bill. After a while, you just don't want to fork over ridiculous sums of $ for a 10-minute fix.

    I KNOW you could recaulk your own bathtub. There's nothing mechanical about it; it's more just practicing doing certain things you're not accustomed to doing, like scraping out old caulk and applying new caulk.

    You're lucky to have a willing neighbor Smile

  3. debtfreeme Says:

    I've had good luck with the CLR product for plumbing issues with hard water. Perhaps that will help the shower stuck valve?

  4. rob62521 Says:

    Wow, you've done real well...maybe you could be a go to person for folks with similar problems! Good job!

  5. FrugalTexan75 Says:

    Wow ... you impress me with your diy 'ness!

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