Monday, January 23, 2012

The Temporary Normalcy Adventure

Today is Monday. I did not work yesterday. I did work today as a plumbing assistant. My work schedule is Monday through Friday 7 am to 4 pm. This is remarkable in my life. Work begins and ends at particular times instead of flooding into or eluding and thwarting me during every possible moment and configuration of days.

The furnace needed to go in through a bulkhead entrance. First puzzle: Bulkhead doors open approximately 3 inches- several feet short of the gap through which a boiler will fit- because two new decks and stairways were constructed too close on either side. Doors must be detached from their hinges. Having been detached from my hinges myself, I can say that the doors came through it a lot better than I do.

Second puzzle: cellar stairs have to come out, but are screwed into the concrete floor and fitted extremely snugly against the concrete walls. After undoing the anchor screws, the process of trying to lever the staircase out is unsuccessful. Taking off one piece at a time in hopes of removing only just enough to get the assembly out works great, except that "just enough" means every last piece gets unscrewed.

The furnace is lowered thanks to a hydraulic boom truck- very handy thing. I'm much more used to a bunch of guys shoving, swearing and in disorderly but effective fashion moving heavy things with only a grudging tolerance or complete indifference to the concept of planning for the effects of mass and gravity. The boiler and oil tank are in within 5 minutes. Preparing the way required an hour's action by the puzzle squad.

Puzzle three: test plugs that don't fit in bath tub drains. Another process I never gave any thought to was checking new plumbing for leaks. My method is to wait for drips from the ceiling or other incontrovertible evidence of leakage. The pros substantially complete the system and then put caps or plugs on all the pipes and drains and use an air compressor to huff and puff and stuff a lot more air in the pipes than would comfortably fit at sea level atmospheric pressure. As the air seeks somewhere less crowded to go, we watch the pressure gauge for nice dry evidence of leakage.

One little obstacle today is that the bath tub has both a drain and an overflow opening. Plugging the pipe far enough down to catch both air escape routes is not an option. Unfortunately, the tub drain is a wee bit too big for one plug and way too small for another. Solution? Not duct tape. Not a paper clip. Process of elimination leaves only one other possibility: Rubber bands. They provide just enough additional circumference to get a good seal, though the first time Rex charges the system...pop! goes the innovative hybrid plug. Next time, I twist a little harder on the wingnut. Not as messed up as it sounds. And it holds.

Thus goes the day. The day with a schedule. Not the coin flip of having to either go like buggery or be idled depending on sunrise, wind direction or when high tide is. Tomorrow the schedule will be the same. How about that? Two days in a row!

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