Wednesday, April 11, 2012

If it ain't broke, don't fix it!

Monday was the last day of our long holiday weekend.  Over breakfast, Brian wondered aloud what he was going to do for the day.  He shouldn't have worried, because I was quick to suggest that we use the time to clean out the shop in our basement in preparation for furlough.  I managed to convince him that it was a good idea by saying that we could clear out a space to safely store his big tool box for the year that we will be gone.  For the sake of his tools, Brian was willing to give up a day of leisure and get dirty.  Of course, he didn't realize quite what he was getting himself into at the time!

Because my allergies have been so bad lately, we decided that it wouldn't hurt to wear some dust masks while cleaning.  Poor Greg - it was more of a full-face mask for him!

Here is the before photo of the shop.  As you can see, it's a crowded, dirty, cobwebby catch-all place for our random junk.  A lot of the stuff down here came with the house when we bought it.

We had gotten very little done in the way of actual cleaning when we decided to move a set of wooden shelves to another wall, thereby making a space that would fit Brian's tool box.  That would have been easy enough, but the longer we spent in the shop, the more annoyed Brian got at the random, improvised plumbing going every which way. 

The plumbing in our house was done by people who liked to improvise and use whatever materials they had on hand at the time.  It's a very confusing mess, and we've never really been able to figure it all out.  What really bugged Brian were all the funky connections that he saw... things like this:

And this:

Before we moved the heavy shelves, Brian wanted to first go in and fix two of the pipes with proper fittings, because once we moved the shelves it was going to be very hard to access them, and there is a good chance that we would eventually need to repair them anyway.

Our simple fix-it job turned into a huge mess!  Brian climbed up on the roof and turned off the water (or so we thought).  Apparently the pipes in question did not adhere to the same rules as the rest of the house, and had a source of water from elsewhere, because I spent a lot of time with my arms over my head, holding my thumb over the pipe to keep the water from drenching us while Brian tried to attach the fittings.  Water dribbled down my arms and down my sides and we both ended up pretty soaking wet.  

It wouldn't have been so bad if the pipes we were working with were all standard sizes. But we soon discovered that the connectors Brian had would need some sanding and tweaking and lots and lots of trial and error and a good deal of encouragement in order to fit properly onto the pipes without leaking.  We took turns holding back the flood, or changing out the buckets catching the water while the other took a pocket knife or sandpaper to the fittings until they would finally go together.

After we fixed the first pipe, we realized that our jiggling of said pipe had somehow created another leak - this one higher up inside the wall.  And so we went outside into the rain (we were wet anyway) to carefully peel back a section of siding so that we could see - guess what?  Yep, another funky improvised connection farther up in the wall had started to leak.  

Here is Brian carefully trying to replace the connection. The type of siding that is used in construction here breaks very easily, and we really didn't want to have to replace it, so we worked very cautiously.

While all of this was going on for hours and hours, Greg was happily running around outside in the yard, playing with the dog and getting dirty:


And dirtier:


Until at last he decided that he wasn't having fun any more.

He reached the end of the line during one of those times when I was standing there with my arms overhead trying to keep the water pressure contained.  It was not a good time for a meltdown.  So, I handed off the gushing pipe to Brian, grabbed my irritable, mud-caked child, and knocked on the neighbor's door!  I asked if one of their kids would be able to come outside and play with him until we were able to finish.  Being the wonderful people that they are, they went above and beyond and offered to bathe him, rinse off his muddy clothes, and even ended up feeding him dinner.  I tell you what - Ukarumpa neighbors are the best!

The end of the story is that we eventually did get all of the leaks fixed, and we were able to move the shelves as planned.  But by then it was already dinnertime, and so we never did get around to cleaning our the shop.  Oh well... maybe next weekend?

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