Well, I managed to wake up at the crack of 6am so that I'd be semi-coherent when Robert and Victor (the leak finder) came by at 7am. They were right on time, too.
They pulled a big hose into the house and hooked it up to the hot water line. The idea was to blow air through the system and listen for leaks. Victor used what I can only describe as a plumber's stethoscope. It's like a normal stethoscope except that instead of a little metallic disc on the end, it actually has two long rubber tubes with larger discs on their ends. He puts them on the floor and listens to pinpoint the leak.
I should have taken a picture, but well... it was early.Anyway, the good news is that he found the problem. The bad news is that there are multiple leaks, which means the galvanized pipe is likely shot. Rather than jackhammer into the floor and patch them up, the real solution appears to be re-plumbing the house to bypass the degrading galvanized crap.
That's about $4,500 worth of work, I'm told. I confirmed this with a friend who has recently been through a similar job.
After finding the leaks, Victor pulled out a new device to map out where the pipes are. It's like one of those wands they use to detect guns in your pocket at the airport--only much bigger. He puts a couple of electrodes on the pipes and then uses the wand to pinpoint their location. He put blue tape on the floor to note where the pipes and junctions are.
If nothing else, I'm getting a good plumbing education in the process.
I told Robert that I'd like to get started ASAP. He said they'd checkt he schedule and call me shortly.
Total cost for the leak location work: $275.
The Good News
Michelle (from AC Plumbing) called me a few hours later and said, I kid you not, "Hi, this is Michelle from AC Plumbing. We're ready to rock on your plumbing work tomorrow." Apparently they're arriving at 7am to being "exploratory cutting." Robert explained this while he was here. He needs to get into the walls at several places to get a more precise idea of where to put the new pipes. Once they've done that, they can get started on the real work of putting the pipes in place.
The Insurance Company
A claims representative called me this afternoon (I was expecting a visit). Based on all the advice from everyone yesterday, I explained to her that this was a misunderstanding. I wasn't trying to open a claim--I merely wanted to get some questions answered. So she killed the claim paperwork and answered my questions.
The insurance company is officially off the hook now.
The Temporary Solution
Around noon I had a brainstorm. Or maybe just a light drizzle. See, I was thinking about the water heater.
And then I remembered the valve near the bottom of the tank.
And I realized that it's the same size as those you'd hook up a garden hose to.
So I thought about how much hose I'd need to get hot water up to the nearest shower. I figured 75 feet ought to do it. So I ran off to Orchard Supply Hardware (it's only 2 miles away) and bought a 90 foot hose and nozzle to go with it.
I then attached the hose to the tank.
And ran it upstairs into the bathroom.
And into the bathtub.
There were two remaining issues:
- Getting the water pressure right
- Getting the temperature right
Hooking directly up to the tank, I knew there'd be no trouble getting water upstairs. There are no leaks before the tank, so that was easy. But I didn't want to turn the water on too hard. Having the water actually hurt in the shower would suck. So it took about 5 minutes of trial and error: try a setting, run upstairs to see, run back down to adjust, repeat.
The temperature would be more tricky. It's like solving math problems about the space shuttle's fuel tank. The longer the engines burn, the lighter the craft gets and the less fuel you need.
I had to turn the temperature down a bit on the tank and let out some hot water out. My theory was that the cold water that'd flow in to replace the hot would bring the overall temperature down enough that I wouldn't burn myself. And, if I didn't use too much water showering, I should be able to do the job without running out of warm water.
I actually got a decent shower out of the deal. Yeay!
A non-cold shower: Priceless!
The only problem was that the seal between the hose and the spout wasn't 100% closed. So there was a bunch of water on the floor around the water heater. I used an old blanket to soak most of that up. I consider it a small price to pay for a semi-warm shower.
Posted by jzawodn at January 21, 2005 04:00 PM