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.