Saturday 24 Sep 2016

Cooperative Repairs
Matt Seinberg

For all of us that own homes, condominiums or even co-ops, the joy of ownership soon wears off as soon as those annoying repairs, big or small, start to show up. Sometimes, it's the small ones that that are most annoying, as small jobs often turn into big projects. As an example, here's what happened to me this week.


I noticed a leaking pipe.

On Wednesday, I noticed a leak coming from the finished bulkhead in the basement. I know the main sewer pipe runs from the back of the house to the front. I had to open it about a year ago and didn't see anything happening at the time.

This time, it was leaking fast, but I couldn't tell from where. Instead of opening the pipe right away, I decided to wait until the next night, when I could get my neighbour, Pete “The Plumber” to look at it. Pete has done some work for us on other occasions and never charges us anything. That's what neighbours do for each other.

When I got home from work on Thursday, at 5:30, I went right next door to see Pete. I told him what was wrong. He came right over with me and we started to take the bulkhead framing apart. The wood was soaking wet; we could see from where it was leaking.

It seems there was an "extra" pipe and trap attached to the main pipe. It led up to what looked like a vent. We couldn’t see any farther.


Masculine bravery took over.

We made the brave decision to cut the vent pike. As we cut, the whole thing tumbled down. Luckily, I had put a drop cloth down and we had two buckets set up as well. What a mess!

Pete started to clean up the pipe joint. He couldn’t cap the pipe, as the threads worn smooth. The next best thing was to run to Home Depot and buy a plastic cover, with a trim ring, which would allow tightening.

The water stoppage was somewhere in the sewer, Pete figured. I needed to call a Roto Rooter type company to come and do the dirty work. That's not something Peter does; a specialist is required.

With the plastic cap on, the water stopped pouring out; part of the ceiling is down and the bulkhead has opened up. I told Marcy the solution will be having contractor Rich build a new bulkhead when we remodel the bathroom in April. I plan to change the design a little bit to have it look nicer, not to mention easier to take down if the need arises.

In the meantime, Pete is asking his work friends if they have the tool to rethread the pipe. If so, he can put a permanent cap on the pipe, thereby ensuring it won't open up, again, ever. Life was so much simpler when I rented an apartment and called Glenn the Super whenever I had a problem.


Good neighbours make living easier.

Now I call Pete the Plumber and Shawn the Electrician. All I need now is carpenter for a neighbour that doesn't mind making free house calls.

Matt Seinberg lives on Long Island, a few minutes east of New York City. He looks at everything around him and notices much. Somewhat less cynical than dyed in the wool New Yorkers, Seinberg believes those who don't see what he does like reading about what he sees and what it means to him. Seinberg columns revel in the silly little things of life and laughter as well as much well-directed anger at inept, foolish public officials. Mostly, Seinberg writes for those who laugh easily at their own foibles as well as those of others.

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