The story so far: after receiving a huge water bill we asked the water company to come out and check our water meter; they did and told us we had a big leak and to call a plumber; our plumber recommended a leak finder; the leak finder came out two days later and found the leak.
After the leak finder drove away in his clean white truck and a check for $300, I called the plumber and told him the leak had been found. He said he’d come out on Monday and fix it. Sounded routine. Meanwhile the leak was spewing out water underground at the rate (according to the water company) of a gallon every 10 seconds.
The plumber arrived an hour and a half late on Monday and began digging up the ground where the leak finder had spray-painted a white marker on the lawn. They hole in the lawn gave up round rocks of various sizes, some requiring two hands to lift out and prompting the plumber to say, “I wasn’t expecting all these rocks,” with a look of disgust on his face.
And then his shovel hit something very, very hard and big about a foot underground. As he slowly uncovered the object it took up one entire side of the growing hole in the ground. The plumber got down on his knees. “This is concrete!” he said, in disbelief and looking up at me as if it was my fault.
“How could there be concrete under our lawn?” I replied. The plumber shrugged his shoulders, and dug some more.
“I’m not going to be able to dig this out,” he said, after five more minutes.
I got down on me knees and felt the surface of the giant blob of concrete. I tried to rock it from side to side to no avail. It blocked any attempt to find the water line.
“I’ll have to use a jackhammer to break it up,” the plumber said, “Otherwise I could be here digging until nine tonight, and you probably don’t want to pay me to dig a bigger hole in your lawn.”
I asked him if he had a jackhammer.
“Back at the shop,” the he said. The shop, in this case, was in another town almost an hour’s drive from our house, “I can’t come back tomorrow,” he added, “I’m booked up, so I’ll be back at 9 AM on Wednesday.”
“What about the leak?” I said.
“I’ll leave you a wrench,” he said. He handed me a long t-shaped tool with a u-shaped tab on the end that would fit around the water company’s valve and allow me to shut off the water.
“I wonder why the water company didn’t offer to leave me one of these?” I said. “They don’t want you touching their value,” the plumber said, as he loaded up his shovel and got ready to go. “Leave the water off until you need to use it. Shouldn’t be a problem.”
So began our no-water disaster drill. My wife, God-bless her, is a member of the Red Cross. As part of the disaster kit she has been putting together was a stockpile of water in old plastic club soda containers sitting on the floor of our kitchen closet. At least we would have drinking water.
But would the plumber come back as he promised? Would the jackhammer be the right tool? Would the plumber ever find the water line? Find out in the next installment of Leaking Water Line Twitter Hiatus.