2018.10.07 Amateur Plumbing

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This is really a tale about how I'm glad I have a cushy desk job instead of being a "skilled" labourer. But before I get into that, let's go back about a year. That's when the kitchen sink started leaking quite badly. A quick inspection suggested that it would be a pain in the ass, and I didn't have time to address it right away. So, in order to buy a couple days until the weekend, I tried wrapping the pipe in some cool hydrophobic tape I've got. It worked. A little too well. I had hoped that it would reduce the pour to a containable leak (a shallow bucket was appropriately situated). It completely contained the leak instead. Which meant that when the weekend came, and I got a better idea of how much of a pain in the ass it would be, I felt able to procrastinate. As more time went by, the more I felt complacent about the patch job.

Alas, even the coolest hydrophobic clingy tape can't hold a badly corroded pipe together forever. And this past Friday the leaking resumed. So Saturday was my day to finally address the fix properly. At which time, it becomes appropriate for a hypothetical flashback to the last time this was fixed - before we bought the house. Due to the extremely awkward location of the pipe, it is rather difficult to get leverage on a modest-sized pipe wrench that can fit in the space. Gazing at the deep gouge marks on the fitting, it's easy to imagine how ardently the previous plumber tried to dislodge it. Worse, looking at how the now-leaking pipe was crudely soldered onto the remains of the compression fitting, it becomes obvious that they gave up trying to get it out, and instead hacked off the old pipe and welded the replacement directly on. I also like to imagine that the previous plumber felt some quiet shame, for the mess that the next plumber would have to face when the thin-walled pipe they installed invariably rusted through.

While I could probably have managed to saw off the pipe in the same sort of way that the previous plumber did, I lack both the tools and the skills to braze, solder, or weld on a pipe in a leak-free manner. Plus, I'd much rather fix the pipe with some corrosion-free plastic. Thus I began my attempt to unfasten the fitting that the previous plumber had given up on.

It did not go well.

After five hours, I had managed to turn the damn thing just 15°. Admittedly, most of that time was spent with the fitting not moving at all. And 2 hours were spent nursing an array of self-inflicted wounds while watching the Matrix. The awkwardness of the location of the fitting prevented easy access to leverage. The confines and the elasticity of the plumbing meant that impacts had no effect in budging the pipe wrench. I nearly maimed my face several times trying to use a crow bar on the handle of the pipe wrench while jammed under the sink. Until finally I came upon a method of bracing bits of lumber as adjustable fulcrums to use a length of square bar to inch the pipe wrench along.

Once the fitting was out, it was a 10-minute trip to the local hardware store to buy $16 worth of parts, and a further 2 minutes to install.

Whatever pleasure I might have for accomplishing this trivial piece of plumbing, even though I overcame what the previous plumber seemingly left as a booby trap, is utterly drowned in the aching discomfort of it all. Craning and straining and slipping and smashing and accidentally banging in a confined space with unyielding surfaces sucks giant donkey balls. Yes, I used my cleverness to do something difficult. But I have the joy of getting to employ my cleverness every single day at work - at my comfy desk.

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