Thursday, March 08, 2007

...And Into the Fire

It's been one week and $750 since we first discovered the leak/break/rupture in our water main, and we are not much closer to having it fixed. Diane arranged for a plumber to come out early Monday morning, and she was assured that he would be able to locate the break, dig it up, and fix it that day. I met him at the house at 8:00 am, briefed him on the situtation, and he went to work. Most of his work entailed head-scratching. He'd never seen a set-up like ours and told us we needed to hire a leak detection business to locate the leak. That'll be $140 please.

I called the leak detectors, whom up until Monday morning I never knew existed, and arranged an appointment for Tuesday afternoon. He came out and spent the first 15 minutes scratching his head: he'd never seen a set-up like ours. I was beginning to notice a theme. He finally hooked up his contraption through our water heater where he forced air through our plumbing system. He then went through a process of turning the air on and turning the air off, followed by turning the the water on and turning the water off, interspersed with times of plopping down what can only be described as a giant stethoscope on the ground and listening for bubbling sounds. This process went on for the better part of an hour. The problem was that he was looking for the logical route that the water line should take. He eventually deviated from that route and quickly detected the leak...under the sidewalk at the foot of our driveway. He created a duct tape "X" at the site of the breach. That'll be $275 dollars please.

I still didn't know the route of the main line or the definitive point at which it tied into the house. So Wednesday morning the plumbers returned, two of them this time, the owner and his son, and traced the line. They disconnected the water main at the water meter and fed fishing wire into the main until it stopped. They then used a metal detector to trace the line. Their findings left all three of us scratching our heads: we'd never seen anything like this before. The line tied in near the northeast corner of the house. The main shutoff valve is located in the garage on the southwest side of the house. The water meter is located on the northeast corner of our property and there is a three-car driveway separating the water meter and the tie-in point. You can see where this is going.

The pipe used for the main line is a blue, plyable polyeurothane that has since been outlawed due to its propensity towards leakage. That coupled with the fact that the break was buried under 6 to 8 inches of concrete left leak repair out of the question. The whole line needs to be replaced. I asked the plumbers to write up an estimate. For some reason, hmmmm, they were reluctant to run a new line along the west side of the house and tie into the main shut-off at the back of the garage. They thought the best thing to do would be to tie into the original location on the northeast corner of the house. This meant cutting through 28 feet of driveway concrete. Estimate: $3100. I told them I had their number. Oh, and by the way, that'll be $237 for today's visit. I'm in the wrong line of work.

I jumped on the phone and began calling other plumbing companies to come out and submit estimates on the job. The first came out this morning, and, after being shown all of the details, was quick to tell us that his company had done a lot of work in our neighborhood, but he had never seen a set-up like ours before. Thankfully, he had no problem suggesting running a line up the west side of the house. Estimate: $ of charge. I never thought I'd be so relieved to spend $1300 on plumbing in all my life. So hopefully we'll have water early next week. We'll see.

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