Everyone out there, do me a favor. Next time I mention that I’m thinking of doing some sort of home improvement project myself, just repeat those words to me. “Just get a professional.” It would certainly save me a bunch of time, frustration and body soreness in the long run.
Why do I mention this? Well, this past weekend Jess and I decided it was finally time to get a water softener. Our water in Meridian is super hard (with dissolved minerals, you sickos). We’ve wanted to get a water softener since we moved in almost 2 years ago. Our shower walls are slowly turning orange. The funny thing is, we put aside most of the cash we got for the wedding in an envelope with the specific purpose of buying a water softener. It just took us this long to actually pull the trigger.
Well, the time had come and Jess was able to convince me that we could totally install it ourselves. And by “we”, she meant her dad and I. So, Saturday morning we headed to Lowe’s full of resolve that it was to be that day. We had grand plans to crank this mother out and be enjoying our soft water that evening.
Hang on there, Sparky. As is always my problem with things like this, I don’t know what I don’t know. I did know that having looked at the plumbing for the softener (that our house was built with) meant that piping was going to have to be cut. See the above image. I guarantee this fact added at least a solid year to my procrastination. There was no handy-dandy screw off ends here. Also, this isn’t PVC pipe either. It is something called PEX which I’d never heard of. Of course, this requires a special tool we gotta rent.
Having purchased all the crap we’d need and planned our attack we started in. This PEX clamper-tool-dealy-thingy (which resembles bolt cutters) was a bitch and a half. Let me tell ya, compressing that bastard took everything I had. This was compounded by the fact that final rings needed to be compressed behind the water softener. I’m basically dry humping the water heater trying to get enough leverage and strength to do it. It very nearly didn’t happen. Not to mention that I could hardly get out of bed the next day with my back, shoulders and arms all jacked up. When we were “finished” I didn’t have enough strength in my arms to even close the tool. But I digress.
Long story short, we get all of the new piping cut and connected. It comes time to test for water fastness. I am happy to report that NONE of the PEX ring seams had a single problem. That was the good news. The bad news was that the threaded pieces leading into the softener itself were dripping. Very slowly, but dripping. Shit. Well, we disassemble and unscrew them… re-teflon-tape them and reassemble. Same thing. We tried tightening. We tried more teflon. We tightened some more. No dice. It was at this point where we were out of ideas.
Fortunately, we still had usable water (thanks to my massive PEXing) so we didn’t have to spend the weekend like backpackers in the wilderness or anything. However, the bucket under the tubing told a different story. Honestly, I’m just glad that at this point I didn’t have water cascading around the garage looking like Old Faithful.
This is what always seems to happen to me. Every project I do I can get 80% of the way done. Then comes some curve ball and I’m basically dead in the water (no pun intended). Something on my end is always different from the instructions. When that happens, I don’t have the knowledge necessary to adapt the plan and continue. Usually at that point I get frustrated that I shot an entire Saturday on the project and am just going to have to call someone in anyway. F-bombs and flying tools usually commence.
This morning, the good people from A-1 Plumbing came out. The guy was really nice. He even complimented me on my PEX seals. He told me about a guy who tried this a few weeks ago and every single one of his PEX joints was leaking. At least I got that going for me. Anyway, a couple hours and 300 bucks later we are up and running. Not to mention that there were a couple pieces that he did and I didn’t even know about which could have cause us MUCHO problems in the future.
I guess I’m just not enough of a “manly” man to know this stuff. It is time to admit to myself that I really don’t know what I’m doing. I suppose I wouldn’t expect a plumber to build me a website either. There is a reason these people exist. Just bite the bullet, pay the money and have it done right.
Thus endeth the lesson…