The Year of Entropy, Part III -- Of Illness and Plumbing

>> Thursday, February 24, 2011

So, we survived the preschool plague with only minimal setbacks and casualties.  The laundry, for one, seems in a perpetual state of delay, but I'm not sure that blaming the plague is really fair.

As DH and I reached a fairly stable point of recovery, we made the rather dangerous decision that the time had come to finally fix the downstairs toilet.  It was functional, unless you were squeamish or easily embarrased, because it did flush -- once every 2 or 3 attempts, so .... you get the idea.

But, plumbing is ... well ... plumbing.  Do-it-yourself projects are never what you hope they will be, but of all the possible options, plumbing is possibly the worst.  First of all, it's bad because you know it won't ever, and can never be, a one-stop fix.  Second, messing with a plumbing system might fix some problems, but the chances of something else breaking are pretty darn high.  Third, once you start, you cannot stop, because plumbing is usually equal parts destruction and reconstruction, requiring at least local water to be turned off, and often the water to the house, and if you are really lucky, the water to the entire neighborhood.

Then, in my house at least, you need to factor in Entropy, above and beyond the normal laws of home repair.  You see, the normal laws of home repair state that no matter how many supplies you have at home, no matter how careful your shopping list, and no matter how many times you have done the same repair before, you are not allowed to make it through any job without at least one trip to the hardware store.  (Just accept it.  There is no way around it.)  Entropy can do so much more than this.  Entropy will wait until you have reached the point in your toilet repair when all the old fixtures are broken beyond repair and you have no choice but to finish the job or learn to live without water.  Then, he will arrange to have the child of the house come down with a fever and a huge spreading rash that look disturbingly itchy and painful.  For icing on the cake, he will also make sure someone comments on how much the rash looks like measels (of course, making sure that the pregnant woman in the house is aware of how bad this could be), and then he will hide the child's vaccination records somewhere mysterious so that no one can confirm when the MMR vaccination was.  Yep.  That is what Entropy will do.

But wait. 

The laws of home repair dictate that once the (longer than you wished, harder than you'd hoped) repair is finished, something about it won't work right.  Entropy will make sure that the part that is broken is the only thing that worked before you "fixed" it.  For example, if your toilet innards are malfunctioning, and the toilet runs, fails to flush regularly, and fills slowly, and you manage to fix all of that, Entropy will make sure that the water connection between the toilet and the household water supply starts to leak. 

(Trust me.  I now have co-opted the bathroom wastebasket as a drip bucket and have a constant supply of towels on the floor.  So now the toilet works far better than it used to ... provided you don't mind the leak.  Of course, the leak does not stop if the water to the toilet is turned off.  No.  The leak is coming from the tank side of the connection, so the only way to stop it is to turn off the water AND drain the toilet tank, rendering the toilet completely unusable.)

Then, the moment you identify the new and intractable problem your home repair has caused, Entropy will throw in another wrench.  While you have the water to the entire house turned off to try to fix the problem, Entropy will make the last completely healthy person in the house queasy and ask for a bucket.

Finally, perhaps days later, when you think you have 3 or 4 more solutions to try to fix the leak, Entropy will make the heat pump freeze and might even throw some added GI distress your way.

Yep.  Entropy loves plumbing.


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