I can generally fix things….If a dish goes wrong in the kitchen; I can fix it through a combination of remix, recycle and other such methods. I can fix minor electrical glitches. I can talk the vegetable vendor into giving me a good bargain. In short, I can generally manage my way around despite being a senior citizen, living alone. But .…..
But, when it comes to any plumbing works, I am all at sea….! When the tap knob stops working and water flows unabated, when the toilet flush stops working, when water keeps flowing into the commode silently (you discover this last - after the water in the overhead tank is exhausted and you keep wondering, how…?), when water from the kitchen overflows because of blocked drains, etc. etc., I’m completely lost…!
For me, plumbing is all about underground connections and operations that can make water overflow or stop its passage all together! Till the plumber arrives after several calls, SOSes and pleadings, my BP and pulse rate remain rather high. Both go higher when he opens up the defective utility, spreads the parts around, gives a list of ‘materials’ to be bought that he often prefers to buy himself (most plumbers, electricians, carpenters and others of their ilk have ‘settings’ with certain shops), and goes out - for buying materials, to attend a cell phone call, or some other urgent call…! Till he comes back with the materials and an inclination to work, my BP continues to be high…
I don’t know how it’s with others, but my encounters with plumbers (whom I call ‘underground agents’ because of their ability to unearth the source of leak and their capacity to disappear at will..!) have been miserable to say the least.
Recently, I found water leaking silently inside the commode and called a plumber. He opened up the flush tank, peered into it, spread all the parts around on the bathroom floor and said that the flushing unit needs to be replaced. As usual, I handed him the cash for purchasing the materials. He came back after two hours. I dared not question him about where he was or his threat that he was available only for an hour when I offered to buy the prescribed materials…!
He fixed the new flushing unit, applied some paste to the flush tank joint and told me not to operate the flush overnight. After much argument, he forced me to pay his entire fees with an “assurance” that there will be absolutely no problem and in case there is, he’d come back and fix it.
Next morning when I operated the flush, water gushed out from the pipe joining the commode and the flush tank. The internal leakage in the commode too continued! I frantically called the plumber all through the day and got varied responses from his cell phone like “Out of coverage area”, “Subscriber is on another call”, “No answer” and sometimes simply beep....! After several attempts to reach him again the next day, to my relief, he finally responded and said he’ll come within an hour. But as expected, he did not turn up.
Fortunately, I have one more bathroom with a toilet or else imagine my plight…!!! After an entire day of futile attempts to reach the aforementioned plumber, I decided to call another plumber. This one – let’s call him Nandu – took my call immediately and reached my place. He opened up the flush tank and examined the paste applied by the erstwhile plumber. After making a lot of faces and tut-tut noises, he announced that the water leakage in the commode was not due to any defect in the flushing unit. According to him, the cause for the water leakage was the pipe attached between the commode and the flush tank. A new pipe and some materials had to be bought. I asked him to install back the old flushing unit I had preserved so that the new one could be used on another occasion. His reply - a dismantled flushing unit is as good as defunct. I had absolutely no way to check the veracity of this statement. No time to consult Guru Google, with him around and me alone in the house.
Nandu bought a pipe, some paste and other materials. He hit the existing pipe so hard that it caused a minor crack on the commode. Having no choice but to grin and bear this assault, I let him do the work. Finally, the pipe was fixed with some paste applied to the joints connecting the pipe to the flush tank and the commode. Nandu asked me not to operate the flush for the day so that the paste dries off completely. He too collected his entire fees and left with promises to return in case of a problem.
Next day when I operated the flush, water again gushed out from both the pasted joints of the pipe. Also, the original issue of water leakage inside the commode remained unresolved. Several attempts to reach Nandu failed, as expected.
My experience with plumbers has been that they are unreachable for quite a while once the work is “completed” and paid for (till possibly, they’ve forgotten my cell phone number). They also have the uncanny knack of disappearing or ducking under cover if one ever runs into them and wishes to talk to them. So, the plumbers, to me, are not only underground agents but also undercover operatives….!
I was totally crestfallen. With a little more investment than the money I had paid for the materials and labour to the two plumbers, I could have got a new commode, flush tank, et el…..
After some intense scrutiny, I turned off the main water supply to the commode. The internal leakage of water in the commode stopped. This simple, common sense solution should have struck me earlier…! Blame it on my age….!. Then, I bought and applied a popular low cost black and white ‘seal’, mixed them as per instructions and applied to the leaking pipe joints. Next morning, when I operated the flush, no water gushed out from the pipe joints. But the internal leakage of water in the commode continued. So, I again turned off the main water supply to the commode.
After a lot of thought, consideration and deliberation, I bought an easy-to-lift 5-litre plastic bucket. Now you know how I “flush” the commode. Thankfully, for the time being, no further encounters with the great “Undercover, Underground Agents”!!!