Thursday, May 4, 2017

Water drama at the cottage

At the beginning of April, we selected and ordered new mattresses for the cottage.  Delivery was scheduled for the end of last week so I arranged for my mom to pick up the girls from school that day.  I had planned to spend the day at the cottage cleaning and didn't want to rush back.  It's a bit of a drive and once you make that drive, you want to be productive.  On our way to DC, Rich had called the water department to request that they turn the water on at the street for the cottage.  That had taken place a few days prior to the delivery date of the mattresses.

My dad offered to accompany me to the Cape to help out.  I was hoping that between the two of us, we would be able to turn the water on.  We've learned quite a bit about cottage life these past few weeks.  The town turns the water on at the street but the homeowner is responsible for connecting the water line to the house.

The furniture store gave us a three hour window of 8:30 to 10:30, which thank goodness, because they do begin deliveries at 7:00.  I would have had to have been up and out of bed at 5:00 for a window beginning at 7:00 so although the 8:30 wasn't ideal, it was better than the alternative.  I was actually awake at 5:30 anyway (internal alarm clock fearing I would oversleep) so we left at an early time.  As we were driving over the bridge, Rich calls to tell me that the furniture store notified him that they'd be there at 8:00.  Good thing I left early.

We arrived at the cottage right before 8:00 and I immediately checked out the water situation.  And then the delivery truck arrived five minutes later.  My original plan was to throw the old mattresses off of the beds and clean the beds and around the beds before the new mattresses arrived.  The cottage has been somewhat abandoned for awhile now (remember the previous owners were elderly and had passed away) and it shows.  I brought our old vacuum cleaner with me.  The tubes for the side suction hose are broken so it's a bit cumbersome to use.  But it works.  As the delivery guys are unwrapping the new mattresses, I'm tossing the old ones on the floor, while trying to vacuum as much as possible.  Cobweb city.  Ideally, I had wanted to scrub down the beds too with soapy water (I've googled how to clean antique wood furniture) but in order to do so I would actually need water.

With the mattress delivery out of the way, we turned our attention back to the water.  My dad shows me an old rubber washer and says that we need a new one in order to prevent leaks when we connect the water pipes.  I know of a mini Home Depot sort of store so we head up there for a new washer.  The employee that assists us is super nice.  They don't have the size we need but he recommends two plumbing supply stores.  We head off to the second one because it appears that the first one on the list only sells to contractors and not random persons off the street.

The second store does not have the correct size either but once again, everyone is super nice, and an employee and a customer try to help us out.  They asked what we needed it for and when we told them, they both said, "Oh, just go to the water department.  I'm sure they'll give you another one."

"Are you sure?"

So I'm from the Boston area.  I went to school in the city.  I worked in the city for 20 years.  I admit, Bostonians are not the, um, friendliest.  I feel like I'm barked at whenever I walk into our town administrative offices.  I thought there was no way that the water department was going to give me the time of day, much less a new washer.

I was wrong.

Everyone with the water department was so nice.  And yes, they gave us a new washer.  She even asked, "You didn't see one on the water meter?  They usually leave a new one."  Cottage life.

My dad and I drive back to the cottage and now I'm convinced that we're going to get the water turned on.  The two water lines don't really line up and my dad didn't have the strength to connect them.  I tried and I couldn't do it either.  But I really wanted water.  The hot water tank and access to the water meter are both located in what is best described as a closet off the back of the cottage.  I know this seems weird but it's a cottage.  Emphasis on the word cottage.

In order for both of us to work on connecting the water line, I had to climb over the gas line to the hot water tank and balance on a sloping pile of sand.  I'm sure there were creepy crawlies in there with me but I really wanted to get the water on.  The things one will do for a working toilet.  After a bit of a struggle, we managed to connect the water lines.  Yes!  All we needed to do was turn the red knob and water would flow into the house.

Except the red knob was stuck.

After several attempts by both of us, my dad told me he would work on it to give me time to clean inside.  I was attacking cobwebs when he came in to tell me that he managed to move it but now water was dripping from underneath the water meter - you've got to be kidding me - and I should call the water department.  The water department tells me that someone will swing by to check it out but it may not be until after noon.  No worries, I tell her.  I'm happy that someone can come by that day.  My dad and I drive to a local seafood place and order chowdah and fries for lunch.  We're back at the cottage at 12:20 and five minutes later, a truck from the water department pulls up.

I feel like I know a good amount when it comes to house stuff but turning the water on and off is completely new to me.  I explain everything to the guy from the water department and he asks if I'm ready for water if he can fix everything.  "Yes."  "Is the valve to the hot water tank closed?"  "Excuse me?"

I hadn't even considered the hot water tank.  It was simple though.  He showed me where it had been opened to drain out the remaining water back in the fall and it simply needed to be closed, which I could do with a screwdriver.  He agrees that something is wrong with the red knob and replaces it with a new green handle.  Unfortunately, I'm told that the meter was "frozen."  After it's removed, he shows me the cracks in the underside, apparently from frozen water.  He was able to replace the meter though.  I have to say that this guy was so very nice.  I explained how we were the new owners and had not been the ones to turn the water off.  From what Rich and I could see, it looked like the water was turned off and drain properly but who knows what happened.  After everything had been replaced and repaired, I am finally able to turn the water on.  The guy from the water department explained that the hot water tank would fill first and then I should turn on the faucets in the house.  He reiterated several times that I should look for leaks.

I head inside and text Rich asking him to call me for an update.  I was feeling like a badass because we finally had water.  Two minutes later, I walk back outside to find water spraying from the closet that holds the hot water tank.  I run over and see that the outside shower had been left on from when it had been drained.  I turn that off but to my horror see that water is spraying from somewhere inside the closet as well.

I send another text to Rich.  Prognosis negative.

I find the problem though.


My dad tells me that my brother, though not a plumber, can fix it.  So that's the plan for this weekend.  Although, it's supposed to rain for the next ten days.

Even though it was only early afternoon, it had been a long day.  We headed back home shortly after, stopping at a beach for some salt air therapy.


(I happened to look down and this piece of sea glass stood out against the shells and sand.  I thought it was a piece of plastic at first because surely, someone would have spotted this before me.  I guess that's the beauty of barely used beaches.)






Julia said...

Oh my. Cold weather is demanding. Here's to happy beach retreats in May!

Christi said...

oh man! glad the water department was so nice and helpful
hope the water is back on soon

BreezieGirl said...

Oh goodness - what an... adventure? Glad you got water (and that everyone was so helpful!) and hope that your brother is able to complete the water process for you.