Saturday, August 29, 2015

Be Kind to Plumbers

I just finished fixing my toilet by installing a new fill valve.  The first hurdle was figuring out what was wrong.  I could hear water running and it took a  long time to fill the tank after flushing.  I put food coloring in the tank and it colored the toilet bowl water.  So it obviously was leaking but where?  I first replaced the flapper.  I turned the water off and flushed to empty the tank and install the new flapper.  Unfortunately, after that the tank wouldn't fill at all and there was a slight drip from the fill valve.

It can be so hard to find accurate advice on the internet.  I work with a very talented, very intelligent guy who can give good advice, but it's hard for him to get down to my level to teach me things.  I sometimes try to talk things over with guys at local hardware stores.  It's all so confusing.

My fill valve didn't look like the two types that were for sale, nor does it have a float.  The videos and pictures online didn't look like my workings.  I did what I normally do when I anticipate a long, confusing, frustrating fix-it job - procrastinated.  It's been leaking for a number of weeks.  My brother-in-law travels a lot now for his job, so he's often unavailable.  He's one of the most helpful human beings on the planet, but I hate to bug him because he's just not home as often anymore.

So I muddled through.  My supply line wasn't the same as the instructions and videos.  Either I have no common sense or these how-to's are not layman-friendly.  How much is enough tightening of screws?  How far back do you shove the refill tube on the nipple?  How in the world do you know what the water level should be?

When I was in my condo I didn't attempt much DIY.  I had a leaky toilet once and called my parents' plumber, who came right away.  While he was there he fixed my kitchen sprayer.  Funds are tighter now so I've fixed my toilet once before (for the life of me I can't remember what it was but I think it involved at least a new flapper) and replaced a teeny tiny part in my shower.  It might have been called a diverter?  All I remember was how hard it was to install and how in the heck are plumber men able to do that?

We had a brutally, wickedly cold winter this year.  Besides ice dams, which stained my soffits and damaged my brand-new porch ceiling paint job, my water pipe froze in January.  Not in the house, but from the street to the basement.  I'm guessing it was installed at the turn of the last century, so of course it's not below the frost line (42 inches in our area).  I called the water company, whose guy said I was doing all the right things.  I had turned on the wall heater and borrowed a space heater from my sister aimed at the hole.  After 24 hours with still no water, I called an awesome plumber who came out right away and took a high-powered propane torch aimed at the pipe in the basement.  It took a while but what a relief when I heard the whooshing sound of water flying out of the wall!  There's no way I would have attempted that.

Anyway, my toilet now flushes like a champ.  No leaks, no phone calls to my brother-in-law, and no return trips to the store.  This is the third plumbing repair I've made, and the easiest thus far.  But don't expect me to get a plumbing license anytime soon.  Those guys (I don't know any female plumbers) earn every penny.
Gratuitous shot of toilet tank. 

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Invincibelle Spirit

This hydrangea was given to me by a dear friend.  I never really liked the muted candy cane pink color but kept it because Tina said it "sounded like me."  Who wouldn't love hearing that?

 My front side garden got way too crowded and I didn't like the attention this tall plant got, so I transplanted the huge thing to the shrub border.  Apparently the roots came out of the hole before I noticed, and it died.  I wasn't too unhappy about that, but the following spring I saw another chunk growing in the front, so I transplanted that.  It's grown a lot; it's very robust.  Since it's now in full sun the color is less offensive.  It's more like a pale pink and it fades to green, instead of a flesh-colored nylon stocking.
Here it is in front of Anthony Waterer spirea.
It still flops like crazy, however.  I don't prune it.  It doesn't make sense to me to prune it to the ground  because I don't think the thinner branches would hold up to wind and rain, either.

Here's what the color looked like in the front garden:
Here's it looking kinda pinky beige (to the right of the lovely bright coral pink Lady Elsie May rose).  Maria Killam would definitely not approve.  It just doesn't fit in here.  It looks like it should be with the muted tones of autumn blooms.  
So I've been reading Carolyn's Shade Gardens blog and she talks about combining these pink hydrangeas with the white Annabelle variety.  I've wanted to do this for a while, both because I love white and for its old-fashioned appeal.  Joan at For the Love of a House has Annabelles in her garden as well. Even Maria has them.  If it's in famous blogs, it's gotta be good, right?  I'm such a copycat.

Now if only my friend Sharon would give me a piece of hers.  My bright idea to trade on Craigslist a while ago was a total failure.