Homeowner Humor

by B. MacNichol - Date: 2006-12-23 - Word Count: 892 Share This!

Recently I was reminded that as a homeowner, I am required to become knowledgeable about a variety of subjects, on a fairly constant basis. My "classes" can pop-up (unannounced) on a 24/7 schedule, and part of the exercise is being able to find the appropriate person to call/ask, to address the immediate problem.

I've handled everything from "how to fix a front stoop", to "what to do when a 150 yr. old Oak tree sits on your house in the middle of the night". (In other words, I've earned my master's degree, and I'm going for my doctorate.)

So when my local water department sent out a flier about some changes they were doing on the system in our neighborhood, I was grateful for the heads-up. Apparently they will be installing new meters on the houses, and that in turn, will increase the possible water pressure in my personal line. (It has something to do with them flushing their system every so often, with extra air pressure.)

Since a lot of the houses around here were built in the 1940's & 50's, they weren't designed to take that much pressure on their own. It would require the installation of some new piece of equipment to safely release the air, so you don't blow every water seal in the house the next time they decide to do some pipe cleaning. They mentioned several remedies, neither of which was anything I had ever heard of.

Now, over the years I have had a few "classes" dealing with plumbing problems. I've tried fixing the ones that didn't look too scary or complicated (running toilets, dripping faucets, ). However, I have also learned, "if you don't know, ASK!". Ask lots of questions, from a variety of people. You never know who will come up with the right answer.

So, armed with my orange water dept. "Warning" flyer, I headed out to the nearest building supply store in my neighborhood. I've found that if you can find someone to help you, they will generally have the supplies you need at a cheaper price. (Homeowners constantly live with budgets too, but that's another story.)

After two rather loud pagings of "Customer Service needed in the Plumbing Dept.", a harried young man showed up to answer my questions.

"According to the flyer I received," I began quoting, "I need either an expansion chamber tank, or a ball cock relief valve assembly". (Yeah, I know.) As soon as it came out of my mouth, the salesman and several people who had gravitated into the area with questions of their own, had all burst out in a fit of giggling. (Who names these things?)

It turns out, that the tank was something you attach to the water pipe in the basement, and would probably require the services of a plumber. (Sure, they couldn't make it simple.) Of course, this guy couldn't find the "ball cock relief valve assembly", so I was forced to repeat my request to several other salespeople, all accompanied by the now expected giggles. (They did everything but announce it on the P.A. system.) Then, after all this aggravation, it turns out they didn't have one.

Okay, so now I have to call in the big guns. We have another hardware store in the area, that is like the places I remember from my childhood (Pre-Home Depot). It contains everything you could possibly want, and then some.

Shelves go all the way to the ceiling, and I could swear I've seen things for sale in there that haven't been manufactured for at least 30 years. They have salespeople that have been there forever too, and that's a good thing, because they have so much stuff you'd never find everything on your own.

I've discovered in previous visits, that it pays to grab the first clerk you find, and just start asking. Trying to reduce the number of times I had to explain my visit, I simply asked for the plumbing supplies. He gave me an aisle number, and a quick "Just ask Ben", before he disappeared once again into the organized chaos.

Hoping to find him alone so I wouldn't have a repeat performance of giggling, I was disappointed to find several other people looking through the myriad fixtures and pipes, and Ben surrounded by customers with questions on their faces. I was tempted to just walk out, and call a local plumber, but I decided to stick it out.

Waiting patiently until it was my turn, I once again stated my need for the dreaded "ball cock relief valve". Ben looked at me, smiled widely, and said, "Yeah, I think we have some over here." Of course everyone there overheard my request, but instead of the expected reaction, I ended up getting a lesson on the differences between the two remedies, from a very nice contractor who was there picking up something for himself. It turns out that this thing is installed in the toilet tank, a much easier solution.

If I hadn't taken the chance (and overlooked the embarrassment), I never would have understood exactly what this thing was for. I also would have wasted a lot of money paying a plumber to "fix it", when I was perfectly capable of doing the installation myself.

So the next time you have to go looking for something at the hardware store, remember me and be grateful that you just need a box of screws.

Related Tags: homeowner, hardware, plumbing

About the Author:

B. MacNichol is the award winning, premier poet for the frameable greeting card line - N Other Words, whose background includes journeyman blacksmithing and farriery (horseshoeing). While spending her formative years in Missouri, she currently resides in the mountains of North Georgia, and is pursuing a professional writing career. To view additional samples of her work, please link to http://www.notherwords.com

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