'This Old Crack House' #33: Any one can be a plumber... I thought

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by Dusty posted 04-17-2007 11:21 PM 2385 reads 0 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 32: Let the credit card advances begin.... Part 33 of 'This Old Crack House' series Part 34: Call 911 my ego had been mortally wounded…Plumbing 101 for dummies... »

I called David’s wife every day to see how David was doing and if he came out of his coma.

I felt so helpless.

A lot of “what ifs” came and went with my thoughts. One was unthinkable.

Reflection was routine. I was constantly, thinking about him and what happened. I was truly powerless. The worst part for me was that I had no control over any of it and I hated being in that situation.

I had to move on. He would want that and I had no alternative.


I knew more about needle work ,crochet, and knitting than I did plumbing.

Every inch of the plumbing in the basement had been ripped out.

Twelve hundred dollars of plumbing parts were sitting in my garage and I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. To add to this, the plumbing problem that I had uncovered was not anticipated or budgeted.

My budget was not only on a diet, it was starving. It wasn’t really a realistic budget; it was more like a wish list.

I’m sure that you know the type; where the actual costs are near double the estimate and the cost of labor to do the project, three times.

In my mind I justified it by telling myself that it was work that had to be done. I reminded myself that a big part of it was that it costs more to do it the right way. I hoped that my rationale would make me feel better about things.

That is how the term, “wishful budget”, came into existence.

Only one thing left to do; do the plumbing work myself.

“I could do it,” I told myself, “I could do it.” Over and over I keep telling myself this.

But in reality, I broke into a cold sweat because I had no clue where to even start; none.

I stared at the old plumbing I removed. A lot of it was still intact. It suddenly came to me. I figured that if I just copied what I took out by using like-pieces that I had bought with David, it would work out.

I had no clue what I was doing but, I had some hope now. That hopeless feeling left. I even felt a big smug now that I thought I had solved my plumbing problems.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Perhaps the gases from the old plumbing had overtaken me.

I went to work priming, fitting, gluing, and setting all the plumbing parts in the new sand I had replaced.

Did I mention that I had to dig down and replace two plus feet of sand in the basement sub floor?

If you ever want to find out how tough you really are, I suggest you do this. Other wise take word that this is listed on the fun scale in the remodels dictionary between the words good and gonorrhea.

Don’t forget, the packing of the sand in three inch lifts with a hand tamper to 100% density so the cement floor doesn’t crack, settle and leave a void under the cement.

I would rather have my fingernails pulled out one by one with pliers than do that again.

One good thing came of this. I never ever again claimed, when viewing those competing in a triathlon, “I could do that!”

I finally finished that part of the roughed-in plumbing, but it took hundreds of trips up and down the stairs to the dumpster, and to the sand-pile that seemed to be located about five miles from my basement floor.

With great confidence, I called the city building inspector to do a rough-in inspection. After all, I thought, I had copied what had existed and he surely wouldn’t find anything wrong with that. I even thought he might say, “Nice job for one who isn’t a master plumber”.

It looked darn good to me. I was thinking, gee this plumbing isn’t so hard. I was feeling pretty good about all the money I had saved myself. The job I had just completed looked pretty professional to me. But what did I know?

The city plumbing inspector arrived promptly at 9 AM, our appointment time. I greeted him at the door and made cheery small-talk. I was so confidant of my work.

He mentioned that he had reviewed the plan of the project which I had submitted for a building permit, so he was somewhat familiar with this project.

He did say that he was surprised that I hadn’t decided to tear down the house.

I wondered why he said that.

I took him to the basement and showed him my masterpiece. He got very quiet as he looked over the installation of the new plumbing.

Several minutes passed; not a word was said. The silence was beginning to get to me.

That feeling was beginning to return. It is that feeling you get when know you are in trouble but just not sure how much or how bad.

One word seems to describe it; trouble.

The thought that popped into my mind as he was pacing back and forth was, “I’m screwed”.

That helpless sinking feeling had returned.

The inspector finally broke the silence.

“I wish you had asked me to help you with this layout before you glued it all up and installed it.” he said, almost apologetically, “But, I’m sorry, this all has to come out.”

He was filling out a red tag at this point.

He attached this to the main building permit I had so confidently posted.

All I could think of now was, “What the hell I was going to do now?”

I had no clue; none.

copy write all rights reserved D.Jerzak 04-15-07

-- Dusty

12 comments so far

View Diane's profile


546 posts in 4123 days

#1 posted 04-17-2007 11:33 PM

It looks good to me too, I am wondering what was wrong with what you did.


View Karson's profile


35121 posts in 4401 days

#2 posted 04-18-2007 12:32 AM

Ah Building inspectors . Ask them before and they say, “It’s not my Job to do your work!”, ask them afterward and it’s, “Why didn’t you ask me before?” Too bad he wasn’t invited to the block party.

Well keep them coming Dusty.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View Dusty's profile


785 posts in 4156 days

#3 posted 04-18-2007 01:42 AM


Th code had changed so one of the floor drains I installed didn’t meet code even though it is readily available at Home Depot. That is one of the most common lessons learned I have experienced in home remodeling. Just because they sell it doesn’t make it legal or code compliant. I got nailed for the sweeps, the venting, and pitch for drainage.

Pretty much anything and every thing.

I’m much wiser today.

My pocket book can attest to that.

-- Dusty

View Dusty's profile


785 posts in 4156 days

#4 posted 04-18-2007 01:46 AM


Interesting how that works .

The IRC forbids the inspector from designing or telling the homeowner or contractor how to design or build the project. They are only to convey what the code calls for.

Its a catch 22.

I have gained substantial experience in this area and will be sharing some of that in up coming chapters.

I think you will be surprised.

Stay tuned.


-- Dusty

View Obi's profile


2213 posts in 4237 days

#5 posted 04-18-2007 01:50 AM

Please tell me you didnt tear all the plumbing out because of one drain

View Dusty's profile


785 posts in 4156 days

#6 posted 04-18-2007 02:21 AM


No, it was as I poorly tried to explain. I didn’t give all the details and code defects because its is pretty mundane in nature.

Simply put it was easier and cheaper to cut out sections, of the plumbing.

Remember from the lessons learned department, dry fit (don’t glue up) had I done that in the first place, the fix would of been a lot less costly not to mention only taken a fraction of the time.

-- Dusty

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4161 days

#7 posted 04-18-2007 03:30 PM

so you just DUG yourself DEEPER into THE HOLE…. you didn’t have enough with all that sand and cement lugging????

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4315 days

#8 posted 04-18-2007 04:30 PM

I was lucky. I had the inspector over to check the main line into the house so I could cover it. He said he could not design the drain system, but he could show me what he wanted to see so it would pass his inspection. Then he drew it all out on paper. I had bought a couple of books, but they didn’t seem to help much. What a headache!

View Drew1House's profile


425 posts in 4088 days

#9 posted 04-18-2007 04:33 PM

I have been there as well. It is even more fun when you know something is a bit sketchy and you are hoping they won’t catch it.


-- Drew, Pleasant Grove, Utah

View Dusty's profile


785 posts in 4156 days

#10 posted 04-18-2007 04:38 PM


Been there did that. Can you say, hold your breath and make them walk fast or ask a million questions in hopes that they will be distracted and not see or ask about something.

I have learned now ( the hard way) to ask in advance or just to let the chips fall as they may.

If they feel as though you are covering up something they seem to look harder.

There is a lot of trust involved.

-- Dusty

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 4300 days

#11 posted 04-18-2007 05:09 PM

Dusty, Here’s what I think of plumbing inspectors.

Back in 1968 I had my house rolled to the back of my lot, & had a basement built. I had to put in plumbing before they poured the floor, so I made a list of what I needed, & went down to the local hardware store. I filled the cart with all the plastic fittings. I went to the check out, & the clerk asked me where I lived. I told I lived in town.

He then told me that plastic pipe wasn’t up to code in the city limits, so that was the end of that.

I ended up having to buy cast iron pipe, to be up to code. I had a plumber friend help me install the plumbing. We ran a pressure test to check for leaks, & it was OK. After that I noticed one line running to my shower wasn’t sloped correctly, water would have to go up hill. I was going to correct it, but my friend said leave it alone we’ll fix it after the inspection.
Sure enough, my plumbing passed inspection, that’s all he did was run a pressure test, he never bothered to check anything else. I fixed the error after he left.

If I hadn’t noticed the problem myself, I would have had a flooded shower. After that episode I was wondering what good it was to have inspectors. That’s all they wanted was their fee.

PS: About a year later the city stepped out of the dark ages, & allowed plastic pipe to the code.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View Drew1House's profile


425 posts in 4088 days

#12 posted 04-18-2007 05:14 PM

Now days we use cast for vertical drops in very high end homes to keep it quiet… It was however a pain to work with. Where I live most cities introduced a stucco inspection in 2002-2003 and prior to that if the house has stucco… WATCH OUT! At least if someone knows they are gonna get looked at they will be a little more careful.


-- Drew, Pleasant Grove, Utah

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics