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A minor


Friday, October 28, 2005

A Plumbing Saga
This week we had our main plumbing drain line replaced. Our line was old, deteriorated Orangeburg pipe. Hollie's dad offered to help me replace it myself, and we came very close to going that route. But despite what follows, I'm so glad we didn't. It was a killer project; our line is about seventy-five feet long, and the main city sewer connection is six feet underground. We were thinking of renting a six-inch trencher, but it actually took a small backhoe and a ton of manual shoveling by three men.

We ended up hiring a Christian plumber who estimated $900-$1100 compared to Roto-Rooter's $2400 estimate. He got the job done, but he created a few other jobs in the process.

I still can't believe how he left the site. Rather than mounding the dirt back on top of the trench properly, he left it caked all over our yard and our neighbor's yard. He obviously didn't bring a rake, and his shovels only worked one way. It looked like an unfinished construction site, with inches of dirt spread all over our side yard and halfway into our neighbor's yard. My kind father-in-law spent four hours cleaning up, shoveling, raking, and sweeping dirt.

In a couple instances, it was like the plumber or his helpers had never used a backhoe before. They ran over or somehow crushed one of our neighbor's drain line vents such that its PVC top doesn't have anything to screw back onto. (And either they didn't notice, or they tried to hide it under all the dirt; we uncovered it while cleaning up.) They even got the backhoe stuck at one point, and in the course of getting it out, lost control and put a huge dent in the non-screen part of our side screen door. We all knew about the door and thought the plumber would suggest some way to make it right at the end of the job, but when he came inside with an invoice for $1100, he didn't even mention it to Hollie. (I was at work.) He just told her what a deal we got and tried to make her feel guilty, as if we were the ones who came up with his price and terms. Before he agreed to do the job, I told him we didn't have a liquid $1000 at the moment, but I knew we could come up with it in a few days; he offered to let us postdate our check, and we paid him $500 up-front and wrote a postdated check for the remaining $600.

He also told Hollie he was leaving a huge hole that we'd need to fill. In the course of digging, he broke into the old cistern/septic tank. According to the plumber, when the city inspector came out at the end of the job to make sure everything was up to par, the inspector said the old cistern had to be filled - so the plumber told him we'd do it! Now we have to get a small truckload of sand or concrete to fill that.

So, our main problem is solved, but we have some new problems to deal with. The plumber said he would come by sometime this week to look at the neighbor's line vent. I plan to talk with him about reparing or replacing the screen door and filling the cistern then. I haven't seen or heard from him in a few days, though; if he takes much longer, I guess I'll threaten to stop payment on the postdated check. That should get him out.

My dad has been using words like "memorable," "exciting," and "experience" to describe this project. He's also been reminding me that God has a sense of humor, ending one of his emails with, "Enjoy the humor of life, even when you are having a crappy day. Wishing I could be there to help ya..."

Thank God for a father's perspective and a father-in-law's help.

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