Springtime Plumber

Since February we called the plumber three times to fix leaky pipes, faucets, and toilets. We are lucky to have a very competent plumber who works evenings and weekends and doesn’t charge extra.  He even likes our cats, who try to help him as much as they can.

Tell about heroic repair people you have known.  Tell about when repairs haven’t worked so well. 

 

64 thoughts on “Springtime Plumber”

  1. my cars are all in their golden years with the youngest one at 165,000 miles

    i had to give a couple up after not being successful at breathing new life into them with my self repair program

    i can do easy stuff like oil changes and brakes which is 90% of what i’d needed but when something else is needed i call on soter…
    soter is a guy from africa who i got the name of from my friend at the auto parts store
    he doesn’t do electrical as a rule but is amazing at other stuff. he recently came over and put in a new radiator for me. the one i ordered initially was wrong so he had to come back a second time. i had him take a quick look at two other cars little issues and he also figured out how to use wire and sheet metal screws to secure a dangling participle what a guy

    linda gave me one of her tax colleagues to help with my taxes and he is wonderful
    he took my mom too after she got whacked when her tax guy died

    i have a handymsn who comes with the house i’m renting and it’s just odd to call a guy to come fix stuff
    they take forever and do it wrong
    this weekend i fixed a sink and a bathtub
    the washing machine went bad yesterday and i called home service plus. they are amazing and i will recommend them to everyone on the planet. all appliances and more are covered and parts are so expensive these days they will kill your appliances if you need to replace them. home service plus comes out to put a 400 dollar part in as their standard operating procedure. washer dryer stove oven furnace a/c bar b que dishwasher and more for about $50 a month

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I am the loss leader for Minnegasco’s Service Plus program. Owning a 100-year old house with aging appliances, I feel like I’m suckering them. Several years ago, the boiler of my house starting to act up. Every single year for three or four years, the SP folks were out to mess around with it. On the next year, the service guy decided that the boiler needed some serious attention and the next day he came with a second guy. They spent 7 hours in the basement and after 7 hours, called a third guy for another 2 hours. They got the boiler going but suggested it might not last. It did last for another year but by then I had gotten a great deal on a new boiler. Even if I had never called them again, I think I would still be ahead.

    My current plumber Brian is my hero. In addition to being a great plumber and working to make sure he doesn’t blow my budget, when you make an appointment, you pick a specific time. And he shows up! No six-hour window during which you’re stuck in the house waiting!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I’m in the middle of fixing the lawn mower.
    It quits running after about 20 minutes and usually only when Kelly is driving. I’ve fixed it so it won’t run at all now.
    And then went to work for the last 5 days…. grass needed mowing before that and it’s really getting shaggy now.
    Going to have to get some cattle out here soon…
    But this afternoon; this afternoon I’ll have another go at it!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. For about twenty years my repairman was Ed, a really sweet guy who once told me he’d been a wealthy financial planner who quit because he couldn’t stand the ethics of the profession. At our first meeting Ed also told me he was ADD. I knew that was Attention Deficit Disorder, but I couldn’t see how that would relate to the jobs I that made me call him.

    Well, I learned. Whenever I called Ed the process began with him staring at the object he had to fix. He’d stare and stare. Then he would turn to me and explain in excruciating detail what he needed to do. I would get antsy, thinking he might charge me for his time, and here we were talking and talking and talking.

    Early in our relationship I would try to divert the discussion and encourage him to start the job. “Ed, I don’t know why you are telling me all this. I know less about plumbing than the average monkey in a zoo. I have no facts and no opinions.” Ed would politely wait me out, then start over with his plodding description of what he probably should do.

    After several repairs I finally got it. Ed had to do that description thing. That’s where ADD connected with his work. Until he’d talked it through, he couldn’t fix a thing. Listening to him rehearse the project was the price I paid for hiring Ed, but he never charged much so I learned to smile and make noises like I understood him. Sweet guy.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. yep my attorney has the same thing. he talks for a long time to get to the thought he wants to arrive at. i was concerned for a while when we began h=but found out thats just his style. he has two brothers who have the same issue and they are not functional. he is an attourney that loves to go to trial and express opinions.
      he surprises the judge with the way his brain works form time to time. he always has his i’s dotted and his t’s crossed

      Liked by 1 person

  5. i am an angry gu. i fight it. i take deep breathes and repeat the mantra. i am the crazy driver who goes ape when eh slow people in front of me slow me down.
    i try to remember that the other driver could be my mom
    i get a handle on the angst moment issue of the day but the bubbling chemistry inside does need a blow off on a regular basis. after seeing bill and steve discuss the science of emotion i am available for the before part of the study
    i tend to smolder and inner broil in the game of life. i have issues that drive me nuts and rather than go crazy i go off into an imaginary dreamscape where it envision shishkabobs and consequences for idiots like i know they deserve.
    my family tree is one of non communicators. repression is the key is the message that was passed on.
    my family is first generation emotions on your shirt sleeve fodder
    they all have friends who come from refined families where their families dont have stuff that stinks in their lives.
    we are a refreshing break from that.
    emotions run hot and cold. i am a poor example of how to do it but a great example of how not to do it. that is often the case at my house.

    slow day today so i thought id get caught up…

    Liked by 5 people

  6. I guess I have to be my own hero, at least in regard to plumbing. Except for the guy I brought in to help me rough in the plumbing for an upstairs bathroom, I’ve never hired a plumber. Adding the upstairs plumbing triggered a mystifying leak I couldn’t solve until I opened up the wall downstairs to see what was going on. A professional plumber would have had to do the same. Working in a 95-year-old house, the plumbing having been modified by any number of (other) amateurs before me, it has sometimes been challenging. when we first moved in, over half of the plumbing was the original galvanized steel. The rest was copper, but joined to the steel without dielectric unions, so there was significant corrosion at the joints. (Galvanized = zinc. Zinc plus copper plus the presence of water produces an electric charge that accelerates corrosion. Dielectric unions insulate that transition from zinc to copper.) I’ve replaced all the steel with copper.

    When we first moved in, there was no fan in the bathroom. Many of the light fixtures didn’t have switches but relied instead on pull chains. None of the closets had lights. I added a fan, wall switches for the fixtures (and changed the fixtures) and put lights in the closets. It’s amazing to me the things nobody thought to update in the first 80 years of the house.

    I don’t do car stuff anymore. I never enjoyed it and it’s worth it to me to forgo the grease and skinned knuckles to turn it over to someone who knows what he’s doing and has all the right tools.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. i was just thinking yesterday it may be worth looking into a 1950’s vehicle before all the engine compartment got filled with wires and computers.
      the old 327 with a 3 on the tree was a beautiful thing to behold. carberators and points may need to be replaces but i dont know . maybe you learn to enjoy the vintage in its own essence. i just dont know if they make points and condenser anymore

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Late Friday afteroon on Memorial day weekend, I happened to go into our basement into the bedroom below the kitchen. Our basement is finished, with drywall on the walls and ceiling. I noticed a black, damp circle, about 6 inches in diameter, that wasn’t there the week before. I phoned our plumber, thinking he would show up Tuesday after the long weekend. He came a few hours later, cut a hole in the ceiling, and discovered a very slow leak in the main hot water line into the kitchen. He returned the next day to fix the leak. The mold was limited to the black circle. Now we have yet another hole in the ceiling to repair. The plumber is responsible for at least three of them.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. My guy Ed fixed a leak one time but was called away before he could sand and paint the patch he’d made. He was too busy to do that for weeks. When he finished the job he absolutely refused to take money for the repair since he was embarrassed by how long it took him to finish.

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  8. 20 bucks and an hours work will get it done.
    let me know when you are ready to looka t the youtube videos of how to do it. ill coach you along. a trowel and a bucket of spackling paste are all you need. and a drop cloth. and a step ladder

    Like

    1. Note: tims way to fix a flat spot of drywall repair is spot on. And it’s not hard. Takes a little practice and your first time will take long and maybe 2 extra coats. But that’s how you learn.

      Now, corners, doorways, anything besides flat. A little harder, a little more practice… a little more time. But it can be done.

      I’ve done just enough to know I’m not good at it and I’d rather not do it.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. My first thought is to nominate Husband. When I first knew him (we were housemates by then, not yet romantically involved) my ’69 Plymouth wouldn’t start, and he said he’d take a look at it. He got under the dashboard and tried this and that, no luck. Then he tried other thises and thats… he stayed with this thing for a LONG TIME, and finally discovered it was something called a solenoid that was faulty. The patience and stick-to-it-ivness really attracted me. By now, I’ve also seen the flip side of those traits, but he has a really positive attitude when he comes upon something he doesn’t know – it may take him (a lot) longer to accomplish what needs to be done, but he can figure it out.

    Also, George, a hippie neighbor (from across the hall in that first SF apartment I described last week) was working at the VW dealership – had all kinds of good advice about maintaining VWs when I finally bought my first car… I also bought my first VW van from him, and he taught me how to do the points and plugs, which I did just once – see Bill’s comments above about car repair.

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    1. Actually I talk to my daughter about getting on 65 or 66 VW bug as her car of choice figuring that you would have to maintain it but when you were done with it in three or four years it would be worth more than it was when you bought it

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  10. Hi–

    I was looking back to see if I’ve told this story before. (how do we search the blog besides just google “Trailbaboon + [topic]”?)

    It appears I gave a very general description one day, but not the details. And the details are the interesting part of this.
    But forgive me if I’ve told it already.

    This is the bravest repair man I know.
    January, our septic tank started to back up into the house.
    That sounds worse than it really was… the utility room had just clear (basically clear) water coming up from the floor drain while the downstairs shower drain had sewage; most likely from the upstairs bathroom.
    Nothing really damaged as it didn’t get deep. Lucky Kelly found it when she did.
    We vacuumed up maybe 25-30 gallons of “water” and started fans and the level went down.
    It worked enough we could flush toilets, but not do laundry. (Well, we had to test the hypothesis somehow).

    This was the day we had one of those 10″ snow storms. I cleared the snow and dug up the cover to the septic tank. (it stays warm enough over the tank that the ground wasn’t frozen) and the level in the tank was ‘normal’ meaning it wasn’t the drainfield frozen or plugged, but the line from the house. Gopher Septic came and they pumped out the tank. Then another guy from Gopher came and he said there’s a “T” at the inlet of the pipe and over the years it gets corroded and eventually plugs shut and therefore nothing can get into the tank and that’s the problem.
    The top of the tank is about 24″ below ground and the cover is only about 24″x 24.” So this guy was laying on the ground with his head down in the tank and using one arm to hold himself up there, and the other arm to swing a sledge hammer down inside trying to break off the cast iron ‘T’, which, if you could picture it, is sort of back under his knees. It was impressive just watching.
    Eventually he had to get a ladder and climbed down in the tank and after a good dozen ‘whacks’, he tells me the next hit will do it. And the trick then is not to be hit in the chest with the pipe full of sewage.
    He smacks it and 50′ of sewage rushed into the tank. And it only splashed on his boots. Problem solved.
    I asked him if he brought a change of clothing. Nope. oh.
    You live alone? Nope, wife and kids. Ah.

    He did warn me there’s also a ‘T’ on the outlet side that will also plug up eventually and I’d want to replace that this summer. But he made it sound like it’s accessible from the outside of the tank. Hm…
    I’ll let you know.

    Also that day, I had a flat tire on the tractor I use to blow snow. Had a repair man out for that.
    And had an electrician drop off a new thermostat for the in-floor heat of the entryway. I replaced that.

    Surround yourself with good people and life will be OK.

    “If the women don’t find you handsome, they should at least find you handy.” – Red Green

    Liked by 4 people

    1. If the “T” isn’t essential and it predictably gets clogged over time, I wonder why it gets put there in the first place. Sounds like bad design…

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  11. Up north, like Bill, I was the repairman and the builder. We turned a one bedroom cabin into a three bedroom house. I hired the cement block work, which was minimal. A neighbor was an electrical contractor who sold sipplies on the honor system out of his garage. He did a sketch of a wiring plan and told me what book to read. It required a new fuse box, breaker box in fact. I did it fine. A colleague and friend was son of a plumber. He sketched out a plan and fame helped for a day because he was like that. Had some furnace issues which required a repairman because it was a fault of the manufacturer. Free. Twice. Everything else I repaired.
    When we moved to N. Mankato, I had to hire a plumber because a line had to be frozen to fix a valve and twice a line needed to be rooted out. Nice guy. Then he sold out to a national chain. Found another local.
    In this apartment we have a maintenance man who is wonderful, as was the guy before him. Almost no wait for a repair. He told me that last Tuesday he was at the opening night of the Moondogs, at the wonderful new city baseball park. He got a call that people moving in on the third floor were all upset about mouse turds in a drawer. He said they were not turds. They were hyper ventilating over it. The ballpark is only half a mile away. I can see it from my patio. So he left the game and game to show them it was wild rice. They never even said thank you. The woman who cleans for turnovers will be replaced. They clean them thoroughly.
    Kevin, who is a true naturalist then told me he has adopted 6 more duck eggs. He has an incubator and raises ducks for th Dnr and rescues eggs. He is a hero in a few ways

    Liked by 4 people

  12. I promised you guys I’d tell you what happened with my application for “Unclaimed Property.” I logged on to a site that looked official. It asked me for contact information. I complied, although I made some fierce faces before giving up my Social Security number. That’s scary! But this site had information that evil scammers just couldn’t know, so I clicked to send my data to this outfit.

    The check just came. I won’t be flying to the Twin Cities in my private jet, as the check falls significantly short of a million bucks. On the other hand, it is considerably higher than a thousand bucks!

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Not bad for an unexpected windfall. What did the money turn out to be? The remnants of an insurance policy or something else?

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      1. That’s exactly right, PJ. This was money from a life insurance policy my dad bequeathed to me. I was reluctant to send out my Social Security number, but I recognized the name of the insurance company, so I risked giving out the number. I thought I had taken that policy down to nothing. Finding there is a nice pot of money left is sure fun. 🙂

        Liked by 3 people

      1. I have mentioned her on here but who would remember. She lives in dickenson and is Clydella with my last name. Poor soul. Funny I find a list of money for her and not me.

        Liked by 3 people

  13. My hero is an automobile mechanic. My car, Alice, was leaking some fluids. The Chevy dealership said it was a head casket. $2100.00. Took it to a local mechanic who fixed a leaking hose by replacing a clamp. $20.00. My hero!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I don’t like to think this way, but a great many repair operations routinely defraud people. The state of New Jersey did a test once and learned that about three of four air conditioning repair operations were gypping customers. And the amounts were considerable: a repair that should have cost $20 might have been done for $600. There was just a study done in Canada that showed almost all auto repair operations were boosting charges and cheating customers. It is just so easy to con people, and the reward for fraud is so good.

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      1. I think the whole repair industry is full of crooks of various degrees. One thing about the independents is that they are likely to be more honest. But then if we are looking for the cheapest guy, then I wonder what we think will happen.

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Hans is a pretty handy guy, although I don’t always trust him. He’ll often attack a problem projecting great confidence and act like he knows what he’s doing. Only later, when something or another has gone wrong, will he admit that he didn’t have a clue. At this point I know that a lot of that confidence was sheer bravado, and I ask questions.

    Probably the most talented mechanic I’ve ever worked with was Jerry, my South Minneapolis Saab mechanic. Truly a a mechanical whizz. But man was he a difficult personality. Surly, rude, terse, downright insulting to his customers, he seemed to derive personal satisfaction from being as difficult to deal with as he possibly could be. He worked almost exclusively on SAABs, although he occasionally worked on other European “luxury” cars as well. Wonder if he’s still in business.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. PJ, you’re giving away part of the ‘Man Code’.
      We always have to start with bravado and false confidence.
      He must really love you to admit he didn’t have a clue. 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

      1. He doesn’t read the Trail Baboon, Ben, so he doesn’t know that I’ve revealed this. Please don’t tell him.

        At the moment he’s in Le Roy, Mn, visiting a young couple who are trying to make a go of mushroom farming. By the time he returns, we’ll all have forgotten – or at least will.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. I just went online to check if Jerry is still in business, and it appears he is. He gets very high marks from people who rate his mechanical skills. Here’s an example of a review:
      “I am at the stage in life where even owning a car is optional-I’m retired. I have been taking my Saab to Jerry for more than a decade. Both of the Saab autos I now own I purchased from him. Every review here is accurate. Jerry is the, THE finest mechanic you are ever likely to find. He does not suffer fools and has the tortured artist persona down pat. Don’t take your car to him if you need a feel-good experience or need reassurance you are a “good person”. Take it there if you want it fixed for a fair price. Give him the room he needs to be Jerry the grump/misogynist/whatever. You aren’t perfect either. When he retires or sells I am selling my cars and riding my bike.You see, I don’t suffer fools either and if he quits I will have to do just that to get my stuff worked on. I can do my bike work and and a lot of my own car work, but Jerry won’t be around and the hassle won’t be worth it.”

      Liked by 2 people

    3. Funny thing is, twenty or twenty-five years after the fact, he’ll readily admit it. But when I ask him, as I do nowadays, right before he starts whatever the project is: “Do you know what you’re doing?” he’ll answer: “sure, nothing to it.” I’ll admit, though, that he has pretty good track record, overall.

      Liked by 2 people

  15. I may have actually fixed the lawn mower.
    I watched some you tube videos last week.
    Thought maybe I didn’t have fuel spurting out of a hose up front but it’s possible I was looking at the wrong hose… Mind you that didn’t stop me from proceeding with bravado!
    I replaced the fuel pump (because I could get that from the John Deere dealer that day. The fuel sender, no one had that…)
    Anyway, that’s when I killed it completely.
    Today I pulled the carburetor off like I knew what I was doing (having watched that one youtube video). There was only one spring that “appeared” on the work bench… hmmm…. well, eventually I deduced where it should go. Only found 2 jets that I could remove. Sprayed it liberally with carb cleaner, put it back on, and it ran as good as it did before I started messing with it. Meaning it ran for 20 minutes and died.
    So I futzed with it some more and eventually it ran for a good 1/2 hour and I got some grass mowed.
    Not sure I’m ready to say it’s “fixed” yet, but it’s fixed better than it was…

    I keep trying to think of ‘Bad repair-man’ experiences… I don’t think I have any that are really terrible. There’s one guy I’m trying to avoid calling again just because he isn’t *quite* as helpful as I would like him to be… And he did create a situation that he knew I’d have to call him back for 5 months later. True, I should have seen it coming, but he also could have set it up in a way to spare that.

    Liked by 3 people

  16. Since I volunteer for the Fix-It clinics in Ramsey County. I will volunteer the names of some of my fellow fixers as my favorite repair people…Gary, Brian, Howard, Alvin, Bob, Bill, Jean, Cory, Jacqui, Gordon, Warren, and Jan, and there are some others whose names aren’t coming to me. The remarkable thing about each is that they volunteer. They don’t charge anything.

    Most of the repair people I’ve known in a professional capacity in the past have by now gone out of business. The TV repair place on Smith where I took my TV’s is now gone. The hardware store on South Robert where I used to take lawn mowers and windows was torn down years ago.The shoe repair shops I’ve frequented in the past are all closed. Repair is a dying art.

    Liked by 3 people

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