High Summer Triumphalism Collides with Amateur PVC Plumbing

I woke up this morning with a song in my heart.  Midsummer Day, blue skies, ethereal luminous landscapes, birds singing, flowers blooming, all that crap.  And as I dawdled over my coffee and bagel Camera Girl did what all wives do best.  She toppled the towers of my fairy tale castle.  Report from the kitchen was that the repair I did to the drain line of the sink had failed catastrophically.

I was outraged!  Just a week ago I had disassembled this piece of pvc pipe and its associated o-rings, gaskets and nuts, cleaned it up, inspected the parts.  And finding them good, I reassembled it and using a very satisfyingly heavy monkey wrench I socked the brass nut down on the iron sink drain with authority.  This failure irked me.  So, I gathered my righteous wrath and got my tools out of the garage and descended on that drain line like Thor.

But the brass nut was now a brass ring and a threaded cylinder.  The damn thing had split apart.  It was almost as if someone had overtightened it.  Knowing this to be impossible I explained to Camera Girl that defective Chinese brass was the culprit.  I sighed a manful sigh and after shutting the water valves to the sink and collecting the spool piece and its attendant fittings and specialty items I headed off for replacement parts.  I was going to go to my local hardware store but since this pvc stuff only came on the scene thirty years ago I thought maybe I should try the plumbing supply place that I had seen nearby.

And it was lucky I did.  The friendly and competent employee behind the counter eyeballed the wreckage of a fitting and instantly handed me a new one.  But when I tried to install it on the pipe, we discovered a very strange situation.  The guy who owned the house before me was a very do-it-yourself kind of guy and what he had done was capture the nut between the flange end of the pipe and a tight 90° elbow that he glued up behind it afterward.  Because the old nut split apart, I could get it around the elbow.  But the new nut wouldn’t get by the elbow.  I grumbled some very uncomplimentary remarks about my predecessor but the hardware professional was unphased.  He noted that the pvc nut that tightened the other end of the pipe in place would fit over the elbow with only light violence and I could use my new metal nut on the other joint.  I thought about this for a second.  Metal to pvc?  Sure, why not?  The worst it would do was loosen and I’d put some Teflon tape on it.

I thanked him and asked him how much for the nut.  He said free.  I said, “I can’t just get it for nothing.”  He said, “Think of it as a sales pitch and come back again next time.”  I assured him I would and it wasn’t a lie.  That guy knows how to run a business.

I got home and sure enough the pvc/iron connection fit like a glove.  I made a point of not socking it down with my wrench and determined to check it periodically to see how much it loosened.  The other metal to pvc joint was equally clean fitting and wouldn’t give me any trouble.  I cleaned up the sink area and returned it to Camera Girl’s jurisdiction with noticeable gratitude on her part.  Hail the Conquering Hero.

In celebration, we took a walk around the gardens and admired the Black-Eyed Susans and roses that were blooming.  And just at that time the guy came returning my lawn tractor from repair.  I wasn’t expecting it back for at least two more weeks so this was definitely manna from heaven.  Even with my 20” push mower working again having the sit-down mower would save me four hours of sweat on a hot July morning.  So, things were really going my way now.

Knowing that good things always come in threes I checked the news to see if maybe President Trump had been recognized as the actual winner of the 2020 election while I was busy.  No soap.

Well, it could’ve been much worse.  Trying to get a plumber in my neck of the woods is difficult.  Leaving Camera Girl without a reliable and convenient kitchen sink would be suicidal.  So, this was indeed a best-case result.

So Midsummer Day was interrupted but not ruined.  Now where was that summer idyll I was dreaming of at breakfast?

O mio babino caro!

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TomD77
3 months ago

I hate plumbing. It’s the only trade where you can have an infinite number of parts and pieces and it still be incomplete. Every plumbing job that I ever start is typified by a large number of trips to the hardware/supply store.

Always The Optimist
Always The Optimist
3 months ago

ingenuo…