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9th of Jan, 2013 by Danskazcottage
9th of Jan, 2013 by Danskazcottage
Stacy the Plumber Catapults into The Asshole Hall of Fame.

Okay. Now--back to the present.

Shortly before his induction into the Asshole Hall of Fame, Stacy the Plumber informed me that he had taken care of one of the most-serious problems in the house. Back in April, when I first contacted Stacy and his ex-partner(Mike) to replace my broken water-heater, they were amazed to discover what they said was the most ridiculous and deadly configuration of a furnace they'd ever seen. According to them, the seller of the house, rather than install a proper chimney liner, had instead chosen to vent the furnace gases through a pipe running through the cold-air return on the furnace. This pipe--this was the part that blew their minds--was connected directly to the sewer stack, in effect allowing sewer gas to circulate throughout the house every time we ran the furnace. (I had noticed a strange smell in the winter, but I assumed it was the catbox--my cats have foul intestines, to say the very least.)

Stacy and his partner showed me the configuration and promised that they would deal with it; in fact, they said it was urgent, that it was surprising that LJ and I weren't dead already, if not from the sewer gas then from the carbon monoxide caused by improper venting.

Oddly enough, though, for something that "urgent", it took Stacy from April to mid-July to actually take action on the problem--which I assumed was no big deal, inasmuch as we weren't running the furnace at all during the spring and summer months. But in mid-July, Stacy informed me that the problem was solved; he'd cut the pipe that ran from the furnace to the sewer stack, and he'd capped off the piece leading from the stack. He hadn't capped the piece that ran through the cold-air return, though, because he didn't have another cap the right size. He promised to deal with that "next time".

Well, "next time" never came, for all the reasons previously explained, and at any rate an uncapped pipe wasn't the end of the world--I figured I could take care of it later.

Jump ahead in time with me, dear reader, to this past Tuesday morning.

On days I take the car to work, I have a few extra minutes before I leave, and I've gotten into the habit of trying to do one minor household task before I leave--soak the dishes, for example, or throw in a load of laundry. So Tuesday morning, after stopping in the downstairs bath to brush my teeth, I went down into the basement with my hamper.

As I stuffed the laundry into the washer, I noticed something odd. The cut end of the pipe--the end Stacy hadn't capped--had a drop of water hanging from its edge. Condensation, I thought--then realized: there's nothing to cause condensation, since we haven't been running the furnace. So I stuffed in some more clothes, and I thought a little, and looked at the droplet--which was vaguely cloudy, not clear; almost as though there was soap in the water.

Soap...or perhaps....

Oh, hell no, I thought. After I turned on the washer, I went back upstairs and turned on the water in the bathroom sink, full blast. Then I went back downstairs....

...where I watched a lovely cascade of cold, clear water, sparkling as it arced directly into the laundry tub, right under the cut end of the pipe.

Cutting to the chase: There's no pipe running from the cold-air return into the sewer--though the pipe passes THROUGH the cold-air return, at the other end it's attached to the first-floor bathroom sink drain. And he cut the drainpipe--this man who CLAIMS to be a licensed plumber, who claims to be the best at what he does.

Two decisions made themselves for me at the moment I discovered this latest outrage. First: I am taking off early, either Friday or Monday, to go downtown and take out papers to sue Stacy in small claims court. I had thought about doing this, but I was putting it off because I found the idea distasteful--after all, I reasoned, he was trying his best; he just got in over his head and we can work it all out like adults. Well, after this, my opinion has changed markedly--if that's his "best", then he doesn't need to be in business.

The other decision: Before, when I considered taking him to court, I had planned to be as charitable and kind about it as I could. I was going to take the total I had paid him for services rendered, and deduct from that the amount of work he'd actually done--replacing the soil pipe, installing the tub, etc. I was on the fence about whether to count the crappy job of tiling the shower--which was never finished, and which I'm going to have to tear out and redo myself because the workmanship was so sloppy. I was willing to be reasonable, though. Well--again, after this, my plans have changed; I am now going to sue him for every dime I paid him. If I think I can get it, I'm even going to sue for interest on the loan I had to take out to pay him all that money. The amount of decent work he did pales in comparison to the amount of CRAPPY work he did--and then there's the inconvenience, the annoyance, and the financial hardship of having our money tied up in his hands while we lived in a construction zone and listened to his "tomorrow"s and his excuses. He owes us every penny back, and then some.

Meanwhile, this weekend, I'm going to Home Depot, buying a 5-foot length of PVC drainpipe, a hacksaw blade, 2 connectors, and some purple primer and adhesive, and I am going to undertake my very first plumbing repair. God save us all.



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