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On Leaving Well Enough Alone (or Not)

 

It’s amazing how things escalate. I had a very small problem: I didn’t know where my Harry’s razor blades were. I knew they were in the cabinet under the sink, but because of the disarray I couldn’t find them. I tried this morning but gave up; I figured the blade I was using had at least one more shave in it.

Tonight, after brushing my teeth, I was about to go to bed when I decided to have one more look. I opened the cabinet and started digging through the jumble of towels and washcloths. I found the blades — and then I noticed that some of the washcloths were wet. Huh? How did that happen?

I kept digging. More and more of them were wet, and some appeared to be mildewy. It looked like there was a slow leak coming from the sink above, but I couldn’t find any sign of wetness or water damage anywhere else; just wet washcloths. It was apparently a very slow and intermittent leak, one that had gradually soaked the washcloths, which had prevented the water from reaching the wood underneath.

I could have stopped there. I almost did; I decided I would just clear out the cabinet and keep an eye on it, and if the leak happened again I’d hopefully spot it. But I decided to have a closer look, now that the cabinet was empty and I had an unobstructed view. And then I saw it: drip. A drop of water fell from the valve on the cold-water line. It had been dripping straight from the copper pipe down to the stack of washcloths, which is why nothing else was wet.

I could have stopped there. It was a slow leak. A towel underneath, or a small bucket, would have kept it contained until I had time to deal with it. But no, I figured: let me see if I can just shut off the water. And so I grabbed the little handle on the valve and turned. The valve that already had something wrong with it.

So of course, instead of shutting off the water, it just made the leak worse. Now, instead of an occasional drip, I had a steady trickle. This wasn’t good.

Did I stop there?

No, I went and got a pair of pliers and turned the valve some more. The flow of water increased.

So here it is, midnight. On a night when the roads here in central North Carolina are hazardous because of an unusual late-winter storm. A plastic bin under the sink is gradually filling with water, and when it’s full, I’ll pour it out. And I will either keep doing that all night, or more likely I’ll just shut off the water to the entire house before going to bed. A plumber is coming tomorrow, sometime between 8 AM and Noon; the roads won’t be fully thawed yet, so I won’t be surprised if he charges me hazard pay.

All things considered, I was better off not knowing where my razor blades were.

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There are 22 comments.

  1. Coolidge
    TBA

    If it had been a win it wouldn’t have been such a good story. Though ‘good story’ might be too soon, seeing as how you have to babysit the water pan all night and probably more of tomorrow than 8:05 AM.

    Have you considered growing a beard?

    • #1
    • March 12, 2018 at 10:02 pm
    • 5 likes
  2. Member

    Yay! Owning a house. Fifty years of hearing and investigating every drip, every switch, every single thing that happens within those four walls while the other inhabitants are blissfully unaware. So much more fun when you travel a lot, and every return you’re greeted with “X isn’t working.”

    • #2
    • March 12, 2018 at 10:19 pm
    • 7 likes
  3. Member

    I remember the night well when I insisted I could hear water running. Husband was in complete denial – couldn’t hear a thing.

    I finally pulled basement trap door up and saw a foot of water.

    My husband and son #2 spent the night hauling buckets of water up a ladder and dumping it into the bathtub.

    The water was warm; the water heater was leaking but meerily filling back up, warming up, only to leak some more.

    To this day that night from hell is my fault for hearing what no one else could (or refused to).

    • #3
    • March 12, 2018 at 11:18 pm
    • 13 likes
  4. Member

    Annefy (View Comment):
    I remember the night well when I insisted I could hear water running. Husband was in complete denial – couldn’t hear a thing.

    I finally pulled basement trap door up and saw a foot of water.

    My husband and son #2 spent the night hauling buckets of water up a ladder and dumping it into the bathtub.

    The water was warm; the water heater was leaking but meerily filling back up, warming up, only to leak some more.

    To this day that night from hell is my fault for hearing what no one else could (or refused to).

    You could point out that, if you hadn’t heard it, it would have been two feet of water.

    • #4
    • March 13, 2018 at 12:50 am
    • 7 likes
  5. Member

    Fear of stories like this keep me from starting lots of tasks. I have too much of a tendency to consider a task that will probably take a few minutes, but spin up all the things that could appear or happen that would turn it into a multi-hour operation. Since I’m not ready for this hypothetical multi-hour operation, I don’t start the few minutes task. Too many things I should get done don’t get done because fear keeps me from starting.

    • #5
    • March 13, 2018 at 2:37 am
    • 4 likes
  6. Member

    Good idea not to try to fix stuff right before bed time – unless as in @annefy ‘s case its a major emergency. I have violated this rule a few times and have lost several hours of sleep when I did.

    • #6
    • March 13, 2018 at 4:02 am
    • 6 likes
  7. Moderator
    She

    Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr.: All things considered, I was better off not knowing where my razor blades were.

    Ah, life! There’s nothing quite like it, is there. In the long run, though, you’re better off. (I know what else happens in the long run).

    • #7
    • March 13, 2018 at 5:18 am
    • 3 likes
  8. Member

    Well obviously you should have gone with Dollar Shave Club instead of Harry’s. Gotta keep up with our sponsors!

    • #8
    • March 13, 2018 at 5:26 am
    • 6 likes
  9. Member

    No – your razor blades saved the day – and your sink and wood.

    • #9
    • March 13, 2018 at 7:01 am
    • 4 likes
  10. Member

    This is when the conservative adage, “Don’t just do something, stand there and do nothing.” makes it’s truth real.

    • #10
    • March 13, 2018 at 8:15 am
    • 2 likes
  11. Coolidge

    JoelB (View Comment):
    Good idea not to try to fix stuff right before bed time – unless as in @annefy ‘s case its a major emergency. I have violated this rule a few times and have lost several hours of sleep when I did.

    Yes, this is the real lesson. I was seconds away from going to bed when I decided to have one more look for the blades, which I didn’t even need at that moment.

    Never start a task — any task! — when it’s bedtime.

    • #11
    • March 13, 2018 at 10:12 am
    • 4 likes
  12. Coolidge

    Oh, how naive I am. I thought the escalation had ended.

    The plumber is here fixing the leaky valve — or “angle stop,” as I have learned it is known. But he also pointed out that the other angle stop on that sink is also starting to leak. He’s going to do both of those today, but given the age of the house we need to plan to go ahead and plan to have all the rest of the sinks done. That’s four other sinks, with two angle stops each.

    And I thought Harry’s was supposed to save me money.

    • #12
    • March 13, 2018 at 10:40 am
    • 8 likes
  13. Member

    I feel your pain.

    I am reminded how I bought a used Honda in high school, and the mechanic who checked it out beforehand had said it had some traces of a minor oil leak but nothing major.

    Being an overly cautious family, my parents and I decided to the leak should be fixed. Big mistake, as I came to learn after several increasingly major leaks that all we did was disrupt the steady state of the system; each repair caused another leak, which when repaired caused another leak.

    I think we finally gave up when we got it back down to a minor leak.

    • #13
    • March 13, 2018 at 2:27 pm
    • 2 likes
  14. Coolidge

    Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. (View Comment):
    Oh, how naive I am. I thought the escalation had ended.

    The plumber is here fixing the leaky valve — or “angle stop,” as I have learned it is known. But he also pointed out that the other angle stop on that sink is also starting to leak. He’s going to do both of those today, but given the age of the house we need to plan to go ahead and plan to have all the rest of the sinks done. That’s four other sinks, with two angle stops each.

    And I thought Harry’s was supposed to save me money.

    That’s easy work.

    Last summer I got a notice from the water company that we had used an excessive amount of water and perhaps we had a leak somewhere. I opened the top of the vault that holds the water meter, and found it was full of water. Reaching down in I found water was not dripping, but spraying out. So I dug a big hole, and realized it was not something I could fix. A hole, I could dig. The plumber did the rest.

    • #14
    • March 13, 2018 at 3:06 pm
    • 2 likes
  15. Member

    ‘Tain’t nuthin. I once bought a replacement faucet for the kids’ bathroom — on SALE! –and discovered after taking off the old contractor-grade faucet it didn’t fit the sink opening. No problem — just replace the sink, right? $$$ later and full bathroom remodel and, while we’re at it, knock down the wall between the bedrooms to make a suite, etc, etc…

    I still have that damn faucet somewhere…

    • #15
    • March 13, 2018 at 4:17 pm
    • 9 likes
  16. Member

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):
    ‘Tain’t nuthin. I once bought a replacement faucet for the kids’ bathroom — on SALE! –and discovered after taking off the old contractor-grade faucet it didn’t fit the sink opening. No problem — just replace the sink, right? $$$ later and full bathroom remodel and, while we’re at it, knock down the wall between the bedrooms to make a suite, etc, etc…

    I still have that damn faucet somewhere…

    We have Pfister faucets throughout the house. We’ve been here 21 years. The faucet in the kitchen has gone bad twice (it’s washerless with just a single lever) and all it took to get them to replace it was a phone call. Needless to say, we’ll have Pfister fixtures in the next house.

    • #16
    • March 13, 2018 at 4:24 pm
    • 1 like
  17. Coolidge

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):
    ‘Tain’t nuthin. I once bought a replacement faucet for the kids’ bathroom — on SALE! –and discovered after taking off the old contractor-grade faucet it didn’t fit the sink opening. No problem — just replace the sink, right? $$$ later and full bathroom remodel and, while we’re at it, knock down the wall between the bedrooms to make a suite, etc, etc…

    I still have that damn faucet somewhere…

    We have Pfister faucets throughout the house. We’ve been here 21 years. The faucet in the kitchen has gone bad twice (it’s washerless with just a single lever) and all it took to get them to replace it was a phone call. Needless to say, we’ll have Pfister fixtures in the next house.

    Are you a two Pfisted drinker?

    • #17
    • March 13, 2018 at 4:52 pm
    • 3 likes
  18. Member

    Spin (View Comment):

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):
    ‘Tain’t nuthin. I once bought a replacement faucet for the kids’ bathroom — on SALE! –and discovered after taking off the old contractor-grade faucet it didn’t fit the sink opening. No problem — just replace the sink, right? $$$ later and full bathroom remodel and, while we’re at it, knock down the wall between the bedrooms to make a suite, etc, etc…

    I still have that damn faucet somewhere…

    We have Pfister faucets throughout the house. We’ve been here 21 years. The faucet in the kitchen has gone bad twice (it’s washerless with just a single lever) and all it took to get them to replace it was a phone call. Needless to say, we’ll have Pfister fixtures in the next house.

    Are you a two Pfisted drinker?

    No. Twelve ounce curls only.

    • #18
    • March 13, 2018 at 4:55 pm
    • 1 like
  19. Member

    JoelB (View Comment):
    Good idea not to try to fix stuff right before bed time – unless as in @annefy ‘s case its a major emergency. I have violated this rule a few times and have lost several hours of sleep when I did.

    Better to lose useful waking hours??

    • #19
    • March 14, 2018 at 1:50 am
    • 1 like
  20. Member

    Paul Erickson (View Comment):
    Well obviously you should have gone with Dollar Shave Club instead of Harry’s. Gotta keep up with our sponsors!

    Give us deliverance from these dueling razor blade ads.

    (Like Hugh Hewitt has now discovered a new “greatest sheets ever.”)

    • #20
    • March 14, 2018 at 1:54 am
    • 2 likes
  21. Member

    Spin (View Comment):

    Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. (View Comment):
    Oh, how naive I am. I thought the escalation had ended.

    The plumber is here fixing the leaky valve — or “angle stop,” as I have learned it is known. But he also pointed out that the other angle stop on that sink is also starting to leak. He’s going to do both of those today, but given the age of the house we need to plan to go ahead and plan to have all the rest of the sinks done. That’s four other sinks, with two angle stops each.

    And I thought Harry’s was supposed to save me money.

    That’s easy work.

    Last summer I got a notice from the water company that we had used an excessive amount of water and perhaps we had a leak somewhere. I opened the top of the vault that holds the water meter, and found it was full of water. Reaching down in I found water was not dripping, but spraying out. So I dug a big hole, and realized it was not something I could fix. A hole, I could dig. The plumber did the rest.

    I have a picture somewhere of husband and son #2 (really is a handy kid) fixing a similar problem.

    The meter is near the street (as far as you can get from the front door) They were digging up the pipe when a bear showed up. It had come through our backyard, over the side fence and was between them and the house.

    They spent awhile in the car taking pics with their phones while the bear inspected their work.

    • #21
    • March 14, 2018 at 8:44 am
    • 2 likes
  22. Coolidge
    TBA

    Annefy (View Comment):

    Spin (View Comment):

    Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. (View Comment):
    Oh, how naive I am. I thought the escalation had ended.

    The plumber is here fixing the leaky valve — or “angle stop,” as I have learned it is known. But he also pointed out that the other angle stop on that sink is also starting to leak. He’s going to do both of those today, but given the age of the house we need to plan to go ahead and plan to have all the rest of the sinks done. That’s four other sinks, with two angle stops each.

    And I thought Harry’s was supposed to save me money.

    That’s easy work.

    Last summer I got a notice from the water company that we had used an excessive amount of water and perhaps we had a leak somewhere. I opened the top of the vault that holds the water meter, and found it was full of water. Reaching down in I found water was not dripping, but spraying out. So I dug a big hole, and realized it was not something I could fix. A hole, I could dig. The plumber did the rest.

    I have a picture somewhere of husband and son #2 (really is a handy kid) fixing a similar problem.

    The meter is near the street (as far as you can get from the front door) They were digging up the pipe when a bear showed up. It had come through our backyard, over the side fence and was between them and the house.

    They spent awhile in the car taking pics with their phones while the bear inspected their work.

    If that bear had stayed much longer the EPA would have come by and declared a wetland.

    • #22
    • March 14, 2018 at 12:21 pm
    • 5 likes