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Plumbers Gotta Be Careful

Had a little problem this past Friday.

The lady needed a new water heater. The old one up in the attic was leaking. Her husband had tried to turn off the supply to the water heater, but the valve didn’t completely work; some water was still coming into the heater. I replied “That’s okay, I can turn off the water to the whole house out at the street.”

The salient part of her information was the statement that her husband had tried to turn off the water in the attic, “but the valves just turned and turned and turned.” I happened to know that some of these valves require a whole lot of turns to accomplish anything, so that wasn’t much of a concern to me. But I took note that she had said “valves” or maybe “handles.” At any rate, it was plural.

Sure enough, when I began working, I saw five valves on various pipes. Only one of them was the correct one, but I assumed that he had fiddled with them all. (He’s a smart guy, but stays away from handyman tasks.)

Once I finished installing the new water heater, I opened all of the valves, including the one that fills the water heater. As it turns out, one of the other valves sent water through a pipe that some plumber had left completely open in another part of the attic. A large quantity of water flowed into that area before I saw it emerging from the air conditioning vents downstairs.

The ceiling is now totally defaced with water stains. It remains to be seen how much work will be necessary to restore it.

I was the only one in the house. The couple is out of town and cannot be reached. They don’t know about it yet, unless they read this blog.

I’m in big trouble. 🙁

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