Monday, January 03, 2011


Let me start off by giving this bit of advice: If you ever divorce, avoid taking the path of a "friendly divorce." Make it acrimonious, spiteful and full of hate. In this manner, you will avoid being sucked into helping with "projects" (otherwise known as "tar pits, death traps, hell holes") at the home of the ex-wife.

(A disclaimer is in order - she is still my best friend. I eat her food. I steal her internet - a future blog post in the making. I turn to her when I need to gripe and moan about the injustices of the universe. My cell phone exists from her good graces. Etc. etc. and etc. I ignore my own advice and, in my case, this is all well and good.)

* ahem *

Kat wanted a mixing valve inserted between the various supply lines and the toilets. Right. No problem. Find a source for Hot, find a source for Cold, feed them into a mixing valve, then direct them to the two toilets. No problem. Really.......

The project decomposed into five parts...
  1. Break into the Hot supply.
  2. Break into the Cold supply.
  3. Construct a mixing assembly (mixing valve and associated parts).
  4. Hook in the upstairs toilet.
  5. Hook in the downstairs toilet.
Estimated total time for the project: One working day.


Here is how it worked out....
  1. Break into the Hot supply.
    Cut the line.
    Insert a "T" assembly.
    Put it together.
    Watch it leak.
    Take it apart and put it back together five times trying to figure out where it is leaking.
    Remove the female portion of the union.
    Apply "Rector Seal Number 5" in copious quantities.
    Put it all back together.
    It doesn't leak anymore, but....
    Discover the hot water supply to the downstairs bathroom sink is blocked.
    Remove the shutoff valve for the sink.
    Discover that your recently 'blown out' knee just DOES NOT LIKE THIS.
    Clean out crud knocked loose from previous actions.
    Put it back together and find it now leaks.
    Buy a new supply line from Lowes.
    Put the fucker back together.
  2. Construct a mixing assembly (mixing valve and associated parts).
    One 3/8 Compression fitting that converts to 1/2 inch copper.
    A "T" connector.
    Two ball valves.
    More "Sweat Pipe" soldering than any human should be forced to endure.
    (The valves come back into the end of the story. You have been warned.)
    Decide you have had enough for one day.
    Stop work.
    Visit friends in a nearby city for New Year's celebration.
    Have experiences of emotional and sexual natures that are profound.
    You really have no idea. Really . You don't.
    Some things are so very, very sacred.....
    My gratitude for what I was allowed to experience is boundless.
    ...but, alas, we return to the story at hand....
  3. After taking a day off from the project - - - - -Break into the Cold supply.
    Cut the freaking pipe.
    Insert a valve and 3/8 compression fitting on the source side of the cut.
  4. Hook in the upstairs toilet.
    There are two sections of pipe, and two elbows. They all need to go.
    Use the Makita saw's all to break the pipe.
    Discover you broke it in the wrong place.
    Fine - - - - Do it again.
    Unscrew sections of 1/2 inch iron pipe that are older than I am.
    (Really - and I do mean REALLY - close to 50, if you need to know.)
    Insert a plug.
    Hook it into the mixing "valve" portion of the mixing assembly.
    Discover the alignment isn't what you thought.
    Connect the fucker anyway.
  5. Hook in the downstairs toilet.
    Discover the pre-assembled 1/2 copper almost fits.....but not quite.
    Find a way to make it fit anyway, goddammit.....
    Discover that water makes a REALLY GOOD heat sink.
    The solder finally flows after much water evaporates, and the house almost ignites.
So here we are....all done, after two working days. three calendar days, and endless frustration. I have turned on the last valve, I am cleaning up the tools, and....


"Plop" is the sound of a drop of water falling on top of my head.




I raise my eyes, looking for the source of the leak. I trace it finally to one of the valves. The connections are all good. It is the valve itself that is leaking.


Right now - stop reading. Get in the car, go to the local Big Box hardware store, and locate a"'ball valve." Look at it carefully. Do you see that seam along the center? It is in the 'Longitudinal' orientation. Yeah..... That one.

It was split.

Just - a very - tiny little bit.


The valve - already placed and soldered an made an integral part of "the freaking plumbing project from Hell" - was leaking.
  • I found a C-Clamp.
  • I wrapped the clamp around the stem portion of the leaking valve.
  • It sopped leaking
  • It looks ugly as hell.
  • I - DON'T CARE.
  • It no longer leaks.
  • I dragged the ex-wife down to the scene of the crime.
  • I explained to her, in bitter detail, the final standing of the project.
  • I paid proper homage to the memory of Rube Goldberg.
  • I went home.

This is where I broke into the Cold supply, and into the supply to the downstairs toilet.

This is the Hot supply. It was supposed to be the easy part. Yeah. Sure.....

...and here is the mixing valve itself - the focus of the adventure...

And - finally - the c-clamp that made the adventure complete. Really.

Pray god that this is not your fate.

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