How to Check for Plumbing Leaks

Regular readers of this blog have been treated to a series of non-Cape stories about the adventures of owning an older home in Florida.

Two days ago, you heard about our Termite Travails.

Years ago, I worked on a special edition of The Palm Beach Post called “Crests of Hope, Troughs of Despair,” which chronicled the Cuban Boatlift and the plight of Haitian refugees. Yesterday’s post was a lot like that, starting with “fits like socks on a flamingo,” and ending up with “SHUT THE WATER OFF!!!!”

This morning, while Wife Lila was getting ready to go to church, her brother, John Perry, was installing the connections for the washer hookup. He wanted to have someone standing by the hookup to look for leaks while he was out at the street turning on the main. Since that’s a pretty good distance, I volunteered to stand in the living room to relay the word from Lila that all was good.

The last thing John said as he headed to the front door was, “I left the faucet on outside, so if you hear water running, don’t worry.”

A relay person wasn’t needed

As soon as John opened the main valve, I’m pretty sure you folks in Cape heard Lila screaming. It seems that John had left the faucets open to let steam escape when he sweated the fittings. He forgot to close them for the test. The water came out full force right at Lila.

I’ll be ready to pull the plug

The next nearest experience like this was when Lila and I shared an old house in Gastonia, N.C., with Chuck Beckley,  a photographer I brought from Athens, OH. We needed to hook up the ice maker on our refrigerator, but I couldn’t find the main shutoff valve.

Chuck, you drill a quarter-inch hole in the cold water supply pipe, then we’ll stick the ice maker tap into the hole. A little water won’t hurt anything because we’re in an unfinished basement. I’ll keep my hand on the electrical cord back here at the receptacle in case the drill shorts out from the water.” See, a good supervisor always thinks about the safety of his workers.

You’d be surprised at how far water under 40 to 60-psi will shoot through a quarter-inch hole. You’d be even MORE surprised at how much water can come gushing out of two faucets aimed at eye-level.

All is forgiven

Just to show that there were no hard feelings, Lila quickly ran over to John to give him a big hug. The fact that she was soaking wet with cold water very quickly became apparent to John. She was sharing more than the love.

How do you shoot pictures like this?

Some of you may wonder how it’s possible to quickly capture photos like these.

It’s all part of the going to special photojournalism classes at schools like Ohio University where you learn how to quickly make the right choices and decisions. I recall one test question that asked, “You see a man jump off a bridge. You have a camera in one hand and a rope in the other. What do you do?”

The answer: it all depends on whether you have a wide angle or a telephoto lens on the camera. You may have to change lenses before you can shoot.

Actually, I WAS confronted with a jumper on a bridge once. You can read about my experience on the Blue Heron Bridge here.

“Like Socks on a Flamingo”

I shared with you our termite travails yesterday. I was a little sloppy in my descriptions, I guess, because several readers thought it was Lila’s Brother who had gone termite surfing under our house. The confusion arose, because the termite exterminator’s first name, John, was the same as B-‘n’-Law John Perry’s. Some of you said you thought you knew John, but couldn’t identify him by his feet (which weren’t his anyway).

Several other readers asked if John was in this class or that class. For the record, he was in the Central High School Class of 1970. I posted a link to a photo of John when he was down here to repair our kitchen and discovered a family of possums. living under the sink. Again, my caption must have been sloppy, because there was some confusion then, too.

Possum in the foreground

For the record, John Perry is in the background. The possom, which was released unharmed, is in the foreground.

Still no Barry Goldwater

I thought I was going to have plenty of time to wrap up the Barry Goldwater visit to Cairo photos, but things kept getting in the way.

The termite guys came bright and early to do a second treatment. Then, John started putting the wall back together.

The first step was to cut a heavy piece of treated plywood to go over and around stuff that had to stick through it.

Is it good for flamingos to wear socks?

It sounded like there were water lines, power lines, lines of credit, fog lines, pencil lines, eye liners and all kinds of stuff to make holes for

Wife Lila came in and asked, “Did you hear what he just said? He said it fits like socks on a flamingo.”

Well, I’ve spent about half my life around construction and about half my life in Florida, so I know a little bit about building things and a little about flamingos. I didn’t, however, know if a sock-clad flamingo was a good or bad thing.

From the photo, it appears to be a good thing.

John Perry in 1969

Wife Lila suggested, correctly, as always, that folks who went so school with him might recognize him as he was in those days. Here’s his junior class photo from the 1969 Girardot yearbook.

Go shut off the water!!!

Back to the present day:

After spending the afternoon visiting two hardware stores and an electrical supply dealer, John set to making more magic and I started editing Barry.

Suddenly I heard John shout, “Go shut off the water!!!” I gathered that the flamingo was in the process of getting his socks wet.

John was cutting off a piece of PVC drain pipe when the saw nicked a copper supply line. On my way to get the cut-off tool, I saw my B-‘n’-Law doing a good imitation of a small boy sticking his finger in the dike. It turned out that most of the water on the floor came from tears, because John managed to overturn his beer in the ensuing confusion. (A Facebook friend said that was a true case of alcohol abuse.)

John tried to minimize the beer spill by saying he did it on purpose. “My hammer looked thirsty,” he said. “So I poured a little on the floor to give it a drink.”

Look for the Barry Goldwater photos on Monday.