Sackcloth and Hay


When last we visited with our handy fix-it guys, one was under the house and the other was at the well tank. When the one under the house finished, he went to help the one at the well tank. Under the house, he couldn’t tell which connections he was making to the faucets, apparently, and since he got distracted at the well tank, it wasn’t until after they left that I realized that the hot water and cold water were switched so that the hot was coming from the faucet on the right and the cold on the left. I gave them a call and they said they’d come back today to switch that up for me. They got under the house then came back out and said, “We hate to tell you this, but your old plumbing is leaking now.”


It was like someone died. They got down on one knee in front of my chair and talked real careful like they thought my head might blow up, and said, “It’s not that bad. We won’t make you turn your water off yet. But you have to replace the rest of the plumbing, because if you don’t, you’re not going to have any water anymore.”

All the plumbing to the kitchen was replaced last week, but the remaining plumbing that goes to the bathrooms was just insulated. They said it didn’t look good, but they would try to keep it limping along with the insulation. Unfortunately, we had another night in the teens since then and it sprung a leak. They said it was really brittle, very old PVC. They’ll be back Wednesday.



  1. twiggityNDgoats says:

    Well I guess the silver lining is now you’ll KNOW your plumbing will be good to go and you won’t have to wonder about it.

  2. Wendy says:

    I can only surmise the ‘thunk’ was your head hitting something solid, and you thinking (or yelling in your head), ‘it’s not fair’—YOU WILL GET THRU THIS—GO GRAB THAT SHOVEL IF YOU NEED TO!

  3. LisaAJB says:

    Oh Susan. You know that saying, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger? You are going to be so so strong when this is over. I’m so sorry you’re having this many problems this early in. Hang in there. Do something relaxing for yourself.. :hug:

  4. CarrieJ says:

    I feel so bummed out for you. It’s like when we bought this house, we had to replace the air conditioner, furnace, a toilet, all the appliances in the kitchen and did the flooring and counters for good measure. Then sucked it up for another 2-3 years before we got to have any fun.

  5. Old Geezer says:

    “The plumbing gods are jealous gods, and when their wrath is provoked they doth make everything to be wet and stinky.”
    — Matthew the pipefitter, 12, 1:2

    We once bought a house in the suburbs of Philadelphia. We had no pre-sale inspection at the time, but I’m not sure it would have caught this one. The house was relatively new, but the danger sign (which I did not recognize at the time) was that the owner did much of his own maintenance and especially expansion work.

    So in this particular tale (there are several) I noticed a minor drip in the cellar from a copper supply line. When I went to wipe the pipe for a closer look, the pipe literally dissolved in my hand.

    The resulting diagnosis: either the original builder, or the misguided owner, had plumbed the entire supply network with insubstantial thin wall copper tubing. The water (from a well) was corrosive with no corrective treatment. So the thin wall tubing was even thinner wall by the time we bought the house. My hand was enough to cause that one pipe to collapse, and it didn’t take much effort to collapse the rest soon after.

    That was my introduction to “how to solder copper pipe” and also “how making the wrong pipe measurements by even a tiny bit can waste a lot of pipe stock really fast” and also “how to go without running water for up to a week.”

    Using plastic (as in rigid PVC) hasn’t changed that picture much (except for the cause being corrosion). It gets glued, not soldered, but it still has to be measured exactly and it can still split when least desired. From cold.

    We can thank the Romans for indoor plumbing (and even the word “plumbing”). So after a couple thousand years things haven’t changed much. I bet that Roman real estate agents didn’t mention the plumbing either.

  6. rurification says:

    Oh, Honey. Breathe in. Breathe out.

    Everything’s going to work out fine. Keep telling yourself nice things.

  7. JOJO says:

    :happyflower: Hopefully by spring, you will be on your way to stress free rest of the year—-you have taken care of the water and plumbing, I am guessing the electrical is alright—-so far.

  8. outbackfarm says:

    Seems like they could have seen that before. Those plumbers. I don’t know bout them. I sure hope they get it all done for you so this will be over. I’m so sorry you’re going through this.

    Just wanted to say also that I have a ewe that looks just like yours. And she likes to wear her hay too! Saves it to eat later. Or else for the others to munch on. She’s so pretty. What kind is she? Mine is a Finn. Can’t wait for spring to get that wool off her.

    And now I can just post a comment and not have to log in every time! Thanks.

    • Suzanne McMinn says:

      outbackfarm, they did tell me it looked in bad condition and brittle, but I didn’t want to replace it, so they just put the insulation on it. Then we had another freeze. They’re going to replace all the rest of it this time. The plumbing is just really old here. (Sob.)

  9. BuckeyeGirl says:

    I am so sad for you! ๐Ÿ˜ฅ Maybe a little angry too except there’s really no point in it, which doesn’t actually stop anger. I just hope this is the last for a lonnnnnnnngggggg time! I know all those fine sayings about things making you stronger are supposed to help, but I’m pretty sure they don’t help till much later in the whole process. :help: I’m pretty sure just now you’re probably at the “That which does not kill you makes you reach for the wine bottle.” stage. :hug:

  10. SarahGrace says:

    Soooooo sorry!

  11. Flowerpower says:

    Murphy’s law applies here. Well one more thing and hopefully this shouldnt be too bad. Its not a huge house nor a big span to run pipe. Maybe they will give you a break! :happyflower:

  12. Canner Joann says:


    This will work out. This will wotk out. This will work out.

  13. lavenderblue says:

    YOU….POOR….BABY!!! :hug:

  14. margiesbooboo says:

    What was wrong with getting your butt steamed?

  15. bbkrehmeyer says:

    Just so ya know. If you are a farmer or a rancher, there is NEVER a time when things aren’t going wrong! either the cow goes dry, the well goes dry, the skies go dry, the crops go dry….. In your case it looks like everything is a bit too wet. Too much rain, too much snow, creeks too high, *sigh, sigh, sigh*
    Strange when the owners moved the kitchen from its original place, that they didn’t update the plumbing.
    And I think copper plumbing is the best, but its also the most expensive.

  16. tdu1964 says:

    Sounds like a good day for some Apple Pie Moonshine!

  17. JOJO says:

    Suzanne, I know you had a home inspection, I wonder why the plumbing problem was not noticed by the inspector, I would think the electrical and prumbing would be at the top of his list to check. I know that there are issues with a home this old, but I would think he would have checked these things. It is a shame that you have had to bear all of this.

  18. Michelle B says:

    Two words… Ben & Jerry’s.

  19. Pat says:

    I recall our $10,000 summer: the septic and drain field died, the a/c-heat pump died, the siding on the house died, and the hot water heater died. Michelle B has a good idea: Ben & Jerry’s. OR biscuits with butter and molasses with a cup of coffee since it’s cold outside. Hang in there; this will all get better. :yes:
    Pat in Eastern NC

  20. yvonnem says:

    Dag burn it! I’m sending a little bit of $ this time!

    At least once this is taken care of, you shouldn’t have to worry about it anymore for a very, very long time! :dancingmonster:

  21. moosebubbles says:

    ๐Ÿ˜€ Are sure that Morgan would not prefer plumbing as a career? Or for that matter, as a “lady” plumber, let me tell you this. If all they are doing is replacing PVC…you too can do that. Really,really,really. Cross my heart and hope to die. Put on your oldest clothes, slide under that house with a good strong flashlight and look at how the PVC pipe is connected.That is not hard. Buy a couple of sticks of PVC and some connecting pieces that look like what they are under the house. Ask that guy at the hardware store for stuff to help it stick together, or watch the plumber guys what glue thay are using and get the same stuff. Then take a hacksaw and cut your PVC into smaller pieces and stick them together to see if you can do this. Plan to do the works in small 10′-12ft sections. You don’t need to do it all in one day. Farmers need to know about plumbing.Need, not want.Remember to turn off the water.If you can make soa[,cheese and pie crust you can do plumbing. Pinkie swear. :fairy:

  22. Nanna says:

    My Mother always said when things got bad. And this too shall pass. It just seems like it takes forever.

  23. MMHoney says:

    Are these licensed plumbers???????? Jackleg plumbers cost you more money in the long run. Plumbing is something that is a headach if they don’t know what they are doing. Been there done that!!!!!

  24. MousE says:

    OH Suzanne. I’m so sorry to hear this. =C

    Only way to look at it now, is, once it’s done, it’s done.

    Rats. Hang in there!

  25. VictorianGirl says:

    Suzanne I’m so sorry to hear of all the problems you’re facing with your new home. I always tell myself “things will get better” when I’m having a rough time and after a while they do and then you wonder how you managed to cope. I guess we’re stronger than we think we are in adverse situations. Still, the going is rough for a while. At least you can be thankful for the good health of your children and yourself which is top priority. Hang in there dear, “things will get better”. I’ll say a special prayer to St. Therese for you tonight.

  26. GA_in_GA says:

    Poor Suzanne. I am really sorry to hear of more plumbing woes at the perfect farm. I am glad to hear that you will not use anymore PVC.

    If it makes you feel better, I have a leak between the 1st and second floor. Not good. Have to go through the ceiling, repair/replace, and then replace said ceiling. I just finished painting that room!

    I just luv homeownership . . . (not so much some days!)

  27. MMHoney says:

    Just another thing I must add to all of the advice. Strap the pipe to the floor joise or the wall and be sure you have it tilted so it will drain. WATER DOESN’T DRAIN UPHILL TO WELL.

  28. thistlewoodmanor says:

    Be glad you found it before the water made the pump run and run and run and you couldn’t figure out why you’re electric bill is so high…….just had that happen to me and now I have a $700 electric bill and no way to pay it.

  29. Hlhohnholz says:

    When it rains, it pours. ๐Ÿ™ At least now you’ll not have to worry about your plumbing for a very long time. I second making sure your plumbers are licensed. You may want to make sure you don’t have to get a permit to replace all your plumbing, too. Oh, I’m suddenly reminded…When I’ve had a truly rotten day, I curl up with my kitten Kiowa and let her soft fur and nice, deep purring soothe my heart. Maybe Kitten or Little will volunteer?

  30. bonita says:

    Surely you’ll get a break soon. . . You need to get a healer for your house and barn who will come and burn sage and chase evil spirits away.
    Your plight is making me nervous. Some of the plumbing and electricity in my house is from the last century….um no, the one BEFORE that (building built 1898). I have cast iron pipes that must be getting tired. Some water lines already replaced with PVC but not all. (Don’t know if PEX is code here.) Am suspicious about supply lines to second floor. Found out by chance that the gas lines for the original gas lights were capped but still live when I had a ceiling fan installed in the kitchen. Thank goodness the electrician wasn’t smoking!

  31. Miz Carmen says:

    Poor lady! I’m so sorry that you’ve been hit by all this!

    We’re currently searching for our ‘homestead in the country’, and one of our goals these past three years has been to gain as many ‘country’ skills as possible, and to find out what we don’t know. Reading your blog and researching any number of things I’ve found on it has been a part of all that. I’m sure that it isn’t much of a consolation – but witnessing your various calamaties has already helped us avoid some of our own.

    Here’s praying that you will not experience any more crises in the course of my education… ๐Ÿ˜•

    Big hugs from the Pacific Northwest – I’d bring you some Tom and Jerry’s if you were out here!

  32. MissPat says:

    So sorry for all these frustrating problems ! DON’T PRAY FOR STRENGTH, please! I learned a looong time ago, when one prays for strength, the good Lord sends another trial to prove to you just how strong you are! Instead pray for SOLUTIONS and COMFORT…both of those feel much better ๐Ÿ™‚ My prayer for you today, “Ok God, enough of that already, she’s beginning to feel like Noah without a pooper scooper. Today send her sunshine, friends to help, financial relief and that good warm fuzzy feeling inside, please!! Amen and thank you.”

  33. KarenAnne says:


    I think cast iron pipes last pretty much forever.


    twiggityNDgoats is right, at least once you’re through this, you’ll know the entire plumbing system is okay. When I moved into my former house, there were periodic problems with the drains for a few weeks, and come to find out the eighty foot long terra cotta sewer line to the street had collapsed and had to be entirely replaced. But once it was dug up and replaced with case iron, at least I knew I was through with that problem.

  34. twiggityNDgoats says:

    Pex is incredibly easy to work with so that is something you can learn to to do if you ever have a plan-ahead project. There are quick connect fittings that are more expensive but require no tools and you can take them apart if you need to adjust something. This is what I sometimes use when I’m crawling under a rental house trying to make a quick repair and the tenants are waiting. Your low crawl space makes it hard to work but if it the space is more accessible (an oxymoron with plumbing) basic plumbing is not too hard. Often messy, but not hard. Hopefully there are no more issues.

  35. WvSky says:

    I used to be in the plumbing business a long time ago. I hated plastic pipe then and I hate it even more now. In my opinion, plastic pipe should have never been approved for ANY serious inside application whatsoever. It’s OK for situations where, if it does break, it wont hurt much. As far as the PEX tubing: It’s also plastic and subject to fail like all plastics. From what I have gathered on the Internet, it’s used mostly for short run applications, to give standard pipe a little extra protection. But using it exclusively? Not real comfortable with that. Anytime you have flexible tubing, you have special mechanical fittings that are subject to fail. Unlike the flexible plastic supply line to your toilet, who’s fitting come permanently attached from the factory, hand laid tubing usually has compression fittings. The more fittings used, the more issues down the road. Having said all that, the new PEX tubing may outlast the others before it, but I wouldn’t count on it.

  36. joykenn says:

    Women learn so many useful things–cooking, knitting, making clothes, milking, etc. Plumbing is just another craft project. If you can color a mason jar you CAN do plumbing also. Watch the guys even if you have to get under the house with them with a flashlight. Get a book on plumbing or check the internet. Practice with some scrap pipes. You might need/want to run a water line somewhere on the farm so learning to do this is a good skill to have.

    Next project, start reading up on electricity. or bricklaying. Or replacing boards on a barn. Or how to install a patch on a tin roof. You are an incredibly handy woman so focus some of that endless energy, creativity and grit on some outdoor projects in the spring. You can do it all eventually. Or learn which things you want to do yourself, which to hire, which to hire a helper for. My 2 cents for what it is worth. (I saw my mother get up on the roof and lay shingles with my dad and then he got me up there.)

  37. oct4luv says:

    Oh I’m so sorry! House problems are the worst.

  38. Tawanka says:

    I owned an old house years ago and when the plumbing under the sinks leaked I would go buy an heavy duty radiator hose, saw off the leak portion and use clamps to hold it in place. Worked for years. Only had to replace them when I sold the house. FHA required it. It works in a pinch. Have you discussed these repairs with the sellers and the home inspector? You may have a case.

  39. whaledancer says:

    I second JoyKenn’s suggestion that even if you don’t want to do the work yourself, get under there with the plumber to watch what they’re doing. The more you can learn about these things and remove the mystique, the better prepared you’ll be in the future, even if it’s just to ask intelligent questions and make informed decisions.

    I never had any desire to learn basic auto mechanics, but when poverty led to a choice between that and walking, I got a book and learned how to make simple repairs. I won’t say I enjoyed it, but my success at that gave me the confidence to tackle other “guy” things, like plumbing, carpentry, and electrical repairs. I would rather pay to have someone else do it, but when that wasn’t an option, it was nice to know I could get the job done. I have replaced a garbage disposal, several faucets, toilet innards, and a toilet. I can replace a wall socket or switch. I can do simple carpentry, like building shelves or sheds. All of those chores can be frustrating, but none is as complicated as using a sewing machine. And even though I prefer to hire it done, having done it myself means I can avoid being bamboozled. It feels good to have that self-assurance.

    I’m quite sure you can learn this stuff, too. You just have to get past the “oh ick” factor and not be put off by professionals who think you shouldn’t worry your pretty little head about such things. The reward is independence. It’s like baking your own bread: you don’t HAVE to bake your own, you can buy it at the store, but it’s satisfying to know you CAN bake your own. And when you know how to do it yourself, you have control over the quality.

  40. Ms.Becky says:

    oh man, when it rains it pours. but once all of the plumbing is fixes, it’s FIXED. for many many years hopefully. you and this charming old farm house are still getting acquainted – these things take time. let’s hope the remaining months of winter are uneventful. at least plumbing-wise! :hug: :hug: :hug:

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