The Joys of Home Ownership (or How I Discovered I’m Not Joe Handyman), Pt. 3

August 25, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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Photo credit: Eniko Polgar | Unsplash.com| License: CCO

Photo credit: Eniko Polgar | Unsplash.com| License: CCO

[This is part 3 of a 3-part series. You can read Part 1 HERE, and Part 2 HERE.]

When I was a young homeowner, I fancied myself to be Joe Handyman. However, it didn’t take much to convince me otherwise. Only a two-foot-deep, heated swimming pool under the floorboards of my house.

Actually, it wasn’t the leaking water pipe that convinced me I wasn’t Joe Handyman. And it wasn’t even having to belly crawl about 30 feet through frigid mud around a labyrinth of old water pipes to get to the leak. It was something that happened afterward.

By the time I got to the source of the leak underneath the hot water tank, I spotted the problem immediately. There was a tiny spray of water coming from an even tinier hole in the copper tubing leading from the hot water heater. When we bought the house, one of the conditions was that the sellers run hot and cold water lines to the new laundry room they’d added at the other end of the house. In the process of installing the hot water line, someone had evidently nicked the tubing. Over time, the leak had developed and grown large enough to fill the entire space under our house.

I figured out what I would need to fix the leak. No problem.

And then it hit me.

I didn’t have any tools or supplies. So now I had to turn around (again) and crawl another 30 feet through mud to get back to the scuttle hole.

Then I would have to flip onto my back in the cold mud (again).

Skootch backward on my bottom in the wet, cold, mud (again).

And climb back up through the scuttle hole.

Then I’d have to go to the hardware store (we didn’t have Lowe’s or Home Depot back then), buy what I needed, come back to the house, change back into my wet clothes…

…and belly crawl through the mud, 30 feet around old dead pipes, fix the leak, and crawl back out again.

Somewhere during that process I said, “Never again.”

Joe Handyman Returns

Joe Handyman Returns

I managed to fix the leak, but to this day I can’t remember the details. I believe it’s a case of hysterical amnesia.

By the time I came up through that scuttle hole for the last time, Joe Handyman had retired.

Until last week.

As the late, great Yogi Berra said, “It was deja vu all over again,” when I noticed a trickle of water running down our driveway last week.

The first day I saw it, I thought it was runoff from a recent rainstorm.

The second day, I knew it wasn’t.

We had a leak, this time coming from our water well. Determined to keep Joe Handyman in retirement, I asked Laurel to call our plumber.

He told me it would be a lot cheaper if I found the leak first, and then called him out.

Which meant digging.

In the mud.

Sigh.

Joe Handyman came out of retirement–briefly. But now my work is done.

The plumber will be here first thing tomorrow morning.

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The Joys of Home Ownership (or How I Discovered I’m Not Joe Handyman), Pt. 2

August 23, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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Photo credit: Eniko Polgar | Unsplash.com| License: CCO

Photo credit: Eniko Polgar | Unsplash.com| License: CCO

[This is Part 2 of a 3-part story. You can read part 1 HERE.]

You have to understand something about me before you’ll fully appreciate this story: Not only am I not Joe Handyman. I’m also not Joe Outdoorsman.

I hate camping. If you take me camping, within about 45 minutes of arriving at the campsite, I’ll be thinking, “Just shoot me.”

One of the primary reasons I hate camping is I don’t like feeling unwashed, dirty, grungy, or muddy.

Especially muddy.

I’m a wimp, okay?

Now, keep that in mind as we return to my underground heated swimming pool.

At this point in my life, I had not yet realized that I’m not good at fixing things. Instead, I decided that I would take on this challenge and vanquish it.

Joe Handyman to the rescue!

First task was to drain the water from under the house. I went to the local rental center and rented a sump pump. In short order, I had the water pumping out through our bedroom window and into the street. Piece of cake.

My confidence soaring, it was now time for phase two of the project. I had to find the leak.

Given that the water under the house was hot, I had a pretty good idea that the leak was coming from the hot water heater. (I know. My powers of deduction amaze me at times.)

In a direct line, the distance from the scuttle hole in our bedroom closet to the water heater couldn’t have been more than 10 feet, give or take a foot. All I had to do was go down through the hole and crawl the ten feet to the water heater, figure out where the leak was and what I needed to fix it, and then get the supplies and do the job.

I had this well in hand.

Until I went through the scuttle hole.

First, I’m not a particularly small person, so getting down under the floorboards was…how shall I say this…interesting.

Photo credit: Skeeze | Pixabay.com | License: CCO

Photo credit: Skeeze | Pixabay.com | License: CCO

I put on an old T-shirt and jeans and descended into the blackness. Well actually, I couldn’t descend very easily. I just sat down.

In cold mud.

Then I kind of had to skooch forward on my bottom until I was lying on my back.

In cold mud.

Next I had to figure out how to turn over. I don’t remember how I managed it, but I rolled onto my stomach.

Did I mention that the mud was cold?

So, now I’m soaked to the bone in cold mud, front and back, lying on my stomach and ready to belly crawl just a few feet to the water heater.

One problem.

Underneath the house was a labyrinth of old and new pipes, entirely blocking any direct path to the water heater.

I managed to work my way around until I was pointing the other direction. (Don’t ask how.)

The only way I could possibly get to the water heater and the leak was to belly crawl away from the heater, toward the front of the house, turn right and go the width of our bedroom, turn right again and crawl the length of the bedroom and several feet down the hallway.

On my stomach.

In cold. January. mud.

But the indignities were only beginning.

To be continued…on Friday.

 

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The Joys of Home Ownership, (or How I Discovered I’m Not Joe Handyman), Pt. 1

August 21, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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Photo credit: Eniko Polgar | Unsplash.com| License: CCO

Photo credit: Eniko Polgar | Unsplash.com| License: CCO

There’s nothing like owning your own home.

That’s what everybody told me, at least.

And I have to admit, when Laurel and I bought our first little house on Pecan St., I thought it was perfect.

Older, 1950s-era pier-and-beam. Hardwood floors. Quiet little neighborhood. Pecan tree in the back yard. Burgundy shutters.

I suppose you might even have called it a young couple’s dream house.

But when we moved from our apartment across town into our dream house, I forgot about one thing. When anything broke at our apartment, we had this special word that solved every (or most) problems: maintenance. All we had to do was call the office and someone would be dispatched to fix what wasn’t working. It was like magic.

It wasn’t particularly long after we moved into our dream home that I discovered the brutal reality. Our house didn’t come with a maintenance man. If something broke, I had to fix it (or pay somebody else to do it).  And, given that our house at that time was around 40 years old, the chances were pretty good that I was eventually going to have to fix something.

But I never imagined it would happen so soon.

Or so dramatically.

It was our first winter in the house. We spent Christmas with my parents down in Baytown, Texas, and when we pulled into our driveway I noticed a trickle of water running from the house, down the driveway, and into the street.

That’s interesting, I thought. Doesn’t look like it rained while we were gone.

We unloaded our suitcases and carried them into the house.

When we stepped inside the door, it felt like we’d entered a steam bath. It was not only humid, it was hot.

Laurel and I looked at each other. It was one of those moments in a marriage where words are not necessary.

We walked around the house and couldn’t find any water leaks. And we almost breathed a sigh of relief–until we looked down.

“Why are the floorboards warped?”

Have you ever felt an unnamed dread hang over you like a cloud of doom?

Yeah. That’s how I felt.

Because in that moment I had a good idea of where that little trickle in our driveway was coming from. Our house had a pier and beam foundation, but the outside perimeter was solid concrete. And all of our water pipes ran underneath the floorboards. And if there was a leak, there was nowhere for the water to go.

I went to one of the two scuttle holes that gave us access to the area under the floor. When I lifted the hatch I discovered that we now had a two-foot-deep, swimming pool underneath our house.

I checked the scuttle hole in our bedroom closet, which was near the water heater.

You could see the steam rising up from the floor.

We not only had a two-foot-deep swimming pool under our house.

We had a two-foot-deep heated swimming pool under our house.

But that’s okay. I was a homeowner now, and I would show the world that I was up to the task. I was going to meet this challenge.

One problem.

I am not remotely handy.

Problem is, I didn’t know that yet.

As a matter of fact, I considered myself to be Joe Handyman.

TO BE CONTINUED… (on Wednesday)

 

 

 

 

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