Thursday, September 23, 2021

Hands On, Even Slightly

 During 2019, we were able to buy our Austin home at a good price, in part because it was not in tip-top shape.  So, along with the house, we acquired a list of things that we needed to do to restore it, among them was to fix the sprinkler system.  We moved in at the end of March 2020 just before the pandemic closed in . 

By about 15 months after our move, we had checked off enough items on the renovation list to reach  the broken sprinkler system.  We located a local expert in residential sprinkler systems, and they did a good job in getting the system going again.  

Unlike the situation in Miami Springs, where the water table is high enough for a lawn sprinkler system to easily reach the water table, here in Austin the water table is very deep in the ground,  No home in our development, as far as I know, has its own well.  So, we must use, as other people do hereabouts for their lawn sprinklers and swimming pools (we don't have a swimming pool),  "city water," as folks from Miami Springs call it.

Our sprinkler-system contractor tested the water pressure from the city water utility in the course of his work.  He found the pressure was low, and well below what it should have been, sprinkler system or no sprinkler system. We contacted a plumber, as suggested by our contractor, to address the pressure matter.  (That's the way it is with an older  home, right? One repair leads to another.  But we knew that.)

The plumber came and examined the arrangement of pipes and gauges that connect our house to the water utility.  That arrangement is mostly accessible via a small man-hole in our side yard, but not completely and required some excavation.  After several hours of hard work, our plumber replaced the entire pipe and pressure regulation system, from the point where the city's pipe ends to the point where our pipe begins.,  I found the plumber's renovation work to be a thing of beauty, before he covered it all up.

Having the water pressure restored to normal limits had several consequences beyond a now robust sprinkler system.  In one of our bath rooms, the one nearest the water pipe that comes into the house, a noisy problem arose.  We found that after we push down the handle to flush the toilet and after its apparatus inside the tank completes the water-refilling cycle, an enormous sound filled that part of the house.  It was a huge groaning sound and it seemed to be coming from the wall behind the tank. I concluded that the increased water pressure had something to do with this.  Google told us we needed to call the plumber again.  And we finally did.  They came this week.

I had visions of our having to tear out the wall to get to the offending pipes, pipes now breaking down from the increased water pressure.  They seemed to groan, "What have  you done to us?!!"

The plumber came again, this time with a  helper, to look at our situation. The plumber lifts the porcelain lid from the top of the tank, just after I push down the handle to flush, and then he waits till the tank fills up.  There is no groaning until the very, very end of the filling process, and the groaning, the awful groaning, begins. 

The plumber takes his index finger and gives the slightest push to the metal rod that connects the ball to the valve, he pushes it up right at the end of the rod where it connects to the valve apparatus.  The sound disappears.  

What?!  That's it?!

I'm pretty embarrassed.  I've fixed toilet apparatus for years, only now and then having to call the plumber for help.  

So, we discuss the question of replacing the apparatus or getting a new, more water efficient toilet. (We'll probably buy a new toilet.)  And I know what the plumber and his helper are thinking as they walk back to their trust:  What an idiot.  The guy must be a retired lawyer or something.

No, guys, I'm really hands-on.  I just got it in my mind that there was something wrong with the pipes.  Else I would have fooled with the tank apparatus.  

After they leave, I fool with the tank apparatus.  I adjust a few screws; I spray the valve hinge with some silicon lubricant.  I bend the metal rod so that the ball, as it floats up on the filling tank, will give that valve just a little more pressure: Slight pressure is all.  Like from a plumber's index finger.

No more groaning.  Except my own.