Thursday, October 6, 2016


I haz it...

...but it wasn’t pretty.

Let me explain:

Back in the early part of the year, we got a notice from the boro that, starting in the spring, they were going to lay a new water main down our street. The boro Water Guy came over, and made sure that the connection coming into the house was copper. It was.

Then, nothing.

About six weeks ago, they started putting in the new main, and I got a visit from Water Guy. Seems there was an issue.

The place in which I live is the eastern most of three old row houses. Every building on every street has their curb box (“water shut-off”, or just “shutoff”) pretty much directly in front of the building. For reasons, ours was in front of the townhouse next door.

Water Guy made a good case for moving it to the front of our place, where it should actually be. He pointed out that, should something fail, we would need to dig up the sidewalk in front of the neighbor’s place to repair it. When I heard that, the word “liability” jumped to mind. (Remember, I’ve raised an attorney.)

He came in and looked around the basement. All we had to so (he said) was punch an iron pipe thru the foundation wall out to the hole where the box would be. Once that was done, we shoved copper pipe out to the shut-off, and hooked everything up. Piece of pie. Easy as cake.

Oh, and he wanted us to move the meter from the back wall of the basement to the front, thereby eliminating the possibility (and temptation) to tie into the line before the meter.

So, they boro digs out to the front of my porch/edge of the sidewalk, the plumbers come out, punch the new hole, insert the copper, move the meter, hook everything up, and go have lunch.

Did I mention that this place was built well before the boro was incorporated in 1881? It was.

The boro got the line in and ready. They started doing the connections from the west of the block eastward, on the side of the street opposite me. What with the rain and all, it took the contractor about three weeks to get down to the east end of the project.  In the meanwhile, I had made arrangements with Saunders Plumbing to rearrange the furniture in my basement and get us hooked up to the new shutoff. I handed them off to Water Guy to coordinate schedules. I must give them both great props for their communication with each other, and with me. 

So, this Monday (10-3), I get an email from Water Guy, who tells me that the contractor is going to start at the west end of the street again, meaning they are going to install the new shut-off on Monday.  Just to close the loop, I called Saunders, who told me they were expecting a three day notice, so they wouldn't be out until Wednesday (yesterday).  I ping Water Guy, who assured me that I would have water until the change over, and then I would have water again. So, it was All Good.

The plumbers, Joe and Ron, showed up at their appointed time yesterday morning. I gave them the 25 cent tour of the basement, and took them out to the sidewalk.

And the fun began.

The first thing we noticed was that the boro had not dug back to  the wall, like they said the would. This upset Joe mightily, who the words with Water Guy.

Discovery of the under-sized hole.

The discussion underway at the plumbers' truck.
My email to Deb:
So, right now, my guys & the city are 'discussing' who is going to dig out the rest of the hole.

Aaaand, we're off. 
Water Guy said that they would come over after break and dig things out some more. Push back project start to 10-ish. They do, and everyone convenes in the basement shortly afterwards.

Digging out the rest of the hole. On-site Water Guy on the left.

Next email, titled 'Doubt it's good...':
…when the Water Guy walks out of the house saying "This day keeps getting better and better…"

Some raised voices outside now. 
 Turns out, there are no accurate drawings of where things actually are. Like the connection to the (very fragile) sewer. Which is not a couple of feet over from where Joe and Ron need to punch thru the wall, but almost right under.

Sadly, I admit that my reaction was a bit less than charitable:
Starting to sound like a CF of epic proportions.

I laugh...
 From the last email I sent:
First pass at drill pipe too steep an angle. After about 4 hours, gave up, sank second pipe. Work progressed from there.
At the moment, unmetered water. Borough needs to come out (tomorrow?) and install it. They are supposed to reattach antenna, too.
 Next-to-last email at 7:28 PM, titled 'Plumber':
Is pulling away from the curb.
So, what was actually a four hour job took eleven and a half hours, not counting lunch.

Water guy was here this morning, and I'm back on the meter. (Good thing I filled the 1,000 gallon cistern last night!)

Before and after basement pictures below the fold: