Saturday, May 30, 2009

Living without water

I've been without hot water in the bath for about a month now, due to a broken tap. I've been managing to bathe, though, using large pans of warm water transferred from sink to tub (and I've even taken a couple of cold showers), and washing my hair in the kitchen sink. Yesterday I visited my fitness club, for the first time in a couple of years, to take a hot shower and wash my hair. It was wonderful!

Determined to DIM (do it myself), I bought tools and replacement parts, turned the water off at the main, and have been trying my damnedest to get the taps off. I talked to veteran employees at two major hardware chains and they agreed I'd been doing everything right up to now (except fixing the stupid things). I succeeded in unscrewing the cold tap, which blew a couple of days ago and provided a steady stream of wasted water until I shut off the main, but even with the specialty pliers, vice-grips, or plumber's wrench, I can't get the old brass cartridge out. And while I've loosened the screw on the hot water tap I can't get it all the way out.

I've been using rain-barrel water to flush the toilet (one bucket does the job). But I can't do dishes or laundry or even wash because when I do turn the water back on the bathtub faucet comes on full. I filled the tub to save me a few trips to the water barrel, and I've filled the bucket with that clear water and am using it to wash floors and walls.

But fixing the problem is beyond me, so I need to call for help. I'm afraid I've done irreparable damage to the works, and unless a strong, smart person can do it, I may be forced to do a bathroom renovation. After 10 years here, it's probably the worst room in the house (after the computer room). I'd love a tub I can actually sit down in (my neighbour has the same tiny 48" tub -- bottom measurement is 39"/1m -- and he is 6'5"!). And except for the wooden IKEA vanity (which I installed myself, along with new supply lines and PVC drainage pipe) there's no storage.

Since I've barely used the tub except to shower since I've lived here I wouldn't mind a stand-alone shower. There's no ventilation except for a hole in the ceiling leading out to the roof, typical of houses of this era (1920). And yes, those are nicotine stains on the ceiling. Hey, it's my reading (smoking) room!

So what's it like living without running water? I can't compare myself to a refugee camp inhabitant, or even a person living on a First Nations reserve in Canada (close to the same thing in some cases). I did fill the coffee maker at the same time I filled the tub. I have access to laundromats and a dry cleaner; ready-made ice, bottled water and other liquids from the store to drink; and a fitness club and probably neighbours I can impose upon to borrow shower time. But I refuse to feel despair, since my procrastinating is really to blame. I plan on staying in this house for a long time yet so a reno is a GOOD idea.

But if I get a renovation started I have to use money I don't exactly have at the moment...


Craig Saunders said...

Do you have access to the pipes behind the tub/shower?

KarenInTo said...

No. And I'm not even sure they're behind the wall. When the previous neighbour got his bathroom renovated, the "handyman" was using a reciprocating saw to cut studs and pipe on the common wall, and I had to turn off MY water because he cut MY pipe. The shower plumbing is on the opposite wall. Go figure.