Un-deal of the week: Hit me! Hit me! Hit me with your stupid tax!

That’s “Stupid Tax” as in “tax on my own stupidity,” and it’s exactly what Uncle Ed, the dictator of the political regime known as Plumb-istan, slapped me with on Monday.

We’ve had two faucets leaking badly. The back hose faucet has been leaking ever since we turned on the swamp/evaporative cooler (which uses water out of the faucet). We’ve been rotating the hose as a “soaker” around the yard, but meanwhile, the sound of water running day and night has been driving me nuts.

Then I turned on the hot water in my laundry sink. That makes it sound easy; it required about 15 minutes of banging and chipping at the painted-shut faucet handle, and then a few minutes of letting the rusty water run. (I’ve used the cold water in the laundry sink, but never the hot — but now I have three huge bags of greasy sheep’s wool in my basement for my new hobby of spinning wool, and it needs washing — in HOT.) But once I turned it off, it just dripped. I collected the water (about 8 gallons a day from that one drip) in buckets and hauled it upstairs to use for flushing the toilet and pre-filling my daughter’s bath, but again … the waste was giving me hives.

We sort of knew that both faucets just needed a washer “or something.” But I couldn’t even find the shutoff valve for the laundry sink pipes. Add to that that we are really busy — Little Cheap is finally in an all-day summer camp, Mr. Cheap is working and in school full-time and spending his free time fulfilling a blacksmithing obligation, and I’m working full time and taking a class. Then there is the endless list of household tasks from intensive gardening to figuring out how to license our camper to …

So we called Ed the plumber. He came that same day. His son tackled the back, Ed tackled the laundry (and turned off the water with one swift twist of a valve above the hot water heater — oh yes, I saw that!). They were here for 25 minutes. And my bill was $118.

That’s a $20 trip charge (I don’t actually mind paying them to drive across town — I’m a business owner, it’s only fair). And something for “supplies” (probably about 20 cents for three washers). And so I figure the Stupid Tax for not doing it ourselves was about $98. Ouch.

I had the same sensation after Ed replaced our kitchen faucet, which in turn led me to repairing a rotted-out J-pipe under our bathroom sink by myself (a fix that is working perfectly). Believe me, Ed (or any other representative of Plumb-istan) will not be returning to our home unless the matter is dire.

But I’ve rationalized the expense. Now I know where the water shutoff is. Now I know for sure that yes, a leak just needs a washer — or it’s sure as heck first a try at first.

And I suppose it’s another of the hidden costs of home ownership — that doggone Stupid Tax.

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