Friday, November 2, 2007

Water, Water, Everywhere, and None is Fit to Drink

So I'm being all domestic and crap yesterday doing a couple loads of laundry and some dishes. All is going as well as can be expected, what with doing dishes and laundry, until I head downstairs to move the laundry to the dryer. As I round the corner I notice water on the floor around the floor drain. Hey, that's not supposed to be there! I figure it was just a burp in the line and think little more of it after I cleaned it up and mopped around the drain with bleach (I do not want to know what was in the drain). In goes another load of laundry and back to the dishes and other misc work. I come back down in a half hour and find even more water on the floor than the last time! SHIT! I did what little I could to find out what's blocking the line, but I know I don't have the tools or expertise to fix this. I have to call an expert.

Not knowing what it'll take to overflow the line and not wanting to risk a cesspool swimming pool in the basement, I look for a way to block the drain. My rationale tells me that if the floor drain is blocked, the water in the drain would need to back up far enough to start filling the laundry tub. Much better option than having the whole floor covered. I don't have anything to plug the drain, so I go to Plan B. I pulled an extra toilet wax-ring off the shelf of renovation supplies and seat it over the floor drain. On top of that goes a 5 gallon bucket filled with water. It sealed nicely and kept any extra moisture under ground where it belongs. That was all yesterday.

Today, I call a local plumber figuring I might as well keep the money local if possible. They say they'll have somebody over between 3:00 and 5:00. The guy was right on time (actually 5 minutes early at 2:55) and got to work. First, a 50' power-snake was sent down through the floor drain. From what we could tell, it looked like the blockage was under the foundation of the house and would probably come out easily. He was running water through the drain the whole time to make sure it flushed through, and eventually that water started backing up. The blockage was farther down the line towards the street. He moved the snake to the cleanout closest to the road, about 20' closer than he was previously, and ran it through again. No dice, it's still blocked. Out comes the big gun, a 100' power snake with a rotating blade which will cut through roots, turds, or whatever it hits. It takes him almost all 100', but he finally hits the blockage and everything suddenly flushes through. This evil-looking tool scrapes the whole pipe clean of build-up, so we should be good for many more nights of Mexican food.

Total cost: $145.00 to keep the pipes flowing. Not bad, considering I was going to run a 30' snake through it to see if I could find the blockage. Looking back, that wouldn't have done jack squat, so it's $145.00 well spent.

I had another guy from the same company come out an hour later to test our water (the first guy only snakes drains, the second guy does the "less crappy" work. I wanted to get an estimate on replacing the water softener with one made since the Kennedy Administration, and also wanted to get a price on an iron filter and water heater replacement. I could probably do all this install work myself, but that'd be a LOT of plumbing work and I don't think I want to load my plate that much right now. In round numbers, it'll run $1,000 for a new larger water softener (the water measured 25 grains directly from the well) and $1,750 for the iron filter. He said our water only measures 1 ppm of iron which he said is pretty low, but he's either wrong or the iron was hiding, 'cause we got waaaay to freakin' much iron in the water. Add to this another $200 to upgrade our existing supply lines to 1". That should help provide a more consistent pressure, which would be nice. Nothing says fun like somebody flushing a toilet while you're in the shower and having the pressure drop to next to nothing...

I had him quote me a replacement water heater as well, something which I have planned to do myself. There's another $1,000 which includes a slightly larger gas water heater and fixing the code "issues" for the current gas supply line. On top of that, I'll either need to spend $400 to put a chimney liner in (the furnace doesn't use the chimney anymore, and there isn't enough heat from the water heater to burn out the winter moisture - not a good thing for the chimney) or spend that $400 to convert the new gas water heater to a power vent model which would vent out the side of the house. Probably better to go with the power vent, even though it'll mean a little more electrical work for me. That way I could tear the chimney down and patch the roof to hide the fact that there ever was one. That would also eliminate a very likely place for the roof to leak. No matter how I slice it, to fully upgrade the water system in the house it'll cost me just over $4,000. We'll see what happens, stay tuned.