It was Super Bowl Sunday. I had a few friends coming over. My roommates and I were getting the food ready and the house cleaned up. Suddenly, my roommate looks up and says, “What’s that? Should there be water dripping down from the ceiling?” Oh no…
In this post, I want to talk about one of the joys of home ownership… handling and paying for any damages that occur… (get ready for a bunch of pictures!!)
House Maintenance and Repairs
One of the main arguments people like to use in the “own vs. rent” debate is the expense associated with maintenance and repairs. Everyone has heard nightmares of how a burst pipe, a roof needing repairs, or a crack in the foundation has resulted in a expense which totaled in the tens of thousands of dollars! It’s true; maintaining a house can be expensive and there is always the risk of something breaking: the furnace, the water heater, a pipe… (are you getting the feeling this post might be on a pipe?)
For me, I’ve been extremely lucky in the past 19 months of home ownership. Up until this point, the only thing I had to repair was my roommate’s faucet; the handle had tightened up. $15 and a little lubricant did the trick!
My luck ran out Super Bowl Sunday. As mentioned in the opening paragraph, it was about 4:45 PM CT, 30 minutes before the game, when my roommate looked up and made the unfortunate observation: water was dripping out of the ceiling. The pipes in this part of the ceiling go up to my bathroom. No time to panic, I had to take action!
Stopping a Leaky Pipe
The first thing I did was go to my basement and turn the water off going up to my bathroom. With all water issues, this is the first step everyone should take: identify the source, and cut off the supply. Once I was able to cut the supply to the leaky pipe, I figured it would be alright to watch the Super Bowl for a little while and enjoy the company of my friends. Since there was no water running through the pipes and the leaking had stopped, everything was fine.
At halftime, the score was Falcons 21, Patriots 3. At this point, I said to myself, “This game is a blow out and basically over… no way the Falcons will let this lead go! I’m going to look up how to fix a leaky pipe.” (How wrong I was on the game!!)
While doing research, I came to the realization I’d have to open up the ceiling and expose the pipes. This would have to be a job for the night after the Super Bowl.
Drywall Demolition Crew
The next day, Monday, I went to my day job and thought about the task ahead of me. I was planning to open up the wall to expose the pipes. After opening the wall, I would diagnose the issue to determine if I could fix it myself.
First, a little background on me as a handyman
There really is only a little background 😉
I am not that handy. While I’m very detail oriented in my day job and other work, for some reason, I struggle with making precise cuts and measurements. When I was younger, I was in Boy Scouts. I had to build various stools and structures out of wood. I didn’t continue to practice this “skill” until recently when I made some shelving in my basement. A little focus when cutting and measuring goes a long way!
Back to the Leaky Pipe
As I’ve mentioned repeatedly on this blog, one of my goals for 2017 (and life) is to experiment and learn different skills and crafts. I believe life is all about gaining experience in different areas and ultimately, using your accumulated knowledge to give back to others in need . I figured, why not? I would try and see if I could fix the pipe. If I couldn’t, I’d call a plumber.
I got home from my day job Monday night, had some dinner, and went to work!!
First, I wanted to be safe. I’m always very nervous going into walls and exposing myself to dust and particles. My house was built in 1900, so I have no idea what kind of stuff I could be exposing myself to! Bring in the battle gear!!
Next, I got a saw, a hammer, a flashlight, and a utility knife. Time to open that baby up!
The Leaky Pipe Diagnosis
Once I got into the ceiling, I saw the problem. As you can see below in the picture, the cold water pipe had come loose from the wall. In addition, the PVC to copper joint had also come loose and was leaking. When going from PVC to copper, it is smart to connect copper and PVC with a “copper male-PVC female joint”. Whoever did the plumbing the first time really messed up.
You see all that debris? That’s super old school insulation, essentially ground up newspaper!!
At this point, I wasn’t going to mess around with trying to fix this. The kitchen is the most highly trafficked area in my house; I didn’t want my first plumbing job to be in the kitchen. I needed to bring in a plumber 🙁
I also decided I’d have a drywall repairman come for the same reason: I’d never done drywall. Time to get out the pocketbook!
Getting a Plumber to Fix PVC to Copper Joint
The next day, Tuesday, I called up my friends over at Ben Franklin Plumbing, and scheduled for a guy to come over and fix my leaky pipe. The plumber came by and it was a quick 3 hour fix. He connected the PVC and copper pipes with a proper joint, threw some sealant over the it, and the connection was good as new! He was laughing because the old joint should have been done completely different and I was lucky that I caught the leak so fast.
The cost of getting a plumber to fix the leaky pipe joint was $468. Given the potential damage and expense associated with a bigger leak or break, I figured this was reasonable. (Also, since I rent out two rooms to friends, I can claim this as a rental expense!!)
Since the leaky pipe was fixed and not leaking anymore, the next step in the project was to patch the drywall. As I mentioned earlier in this post, I didn’t want my first drywall and plumbing repair experience to be in my kitchen (the most trafficked area in my house). I called up a local handyman, Greg, and he agreed to come out and patch up my drywall.
The cost to patch the drywall was $293 and took about 4 hours over 2 days. It took multiple days because the drywall mud takes time to dry. With drywall, you want to put drywall mud over the creases and then sand it down to get it to look smooth and clean. The mudding and sanding for this job took two iterations.
I feel a little bad on the total cost of the drywall repair; the materials were roughly $20. Though, again, I didn’t want to do a horrible job and have my guests comment on my poor drywalling skills 🙂
While we were waiting for the drywall mud to dry, I chatted up Greg about his previous handyman experiences. He had been a handyman for all of his working life and had done many projects: building his own cabin, installing windows and doors, hanging and repairing drywall, and doing some plumbing. Since I was reading The Millionaire Real Estate Investor (book review) at the time, I was thinking about finding talented individuals to be on my team. I was impressed with his work ethic and hustle. He did a fine job and was candid in our conversation; I was interested to work with him again.
We will see where it goes; it’s always good to have a good contact in the handyman industry!
Finished Product and Conclusion
After Greg, the drywall repair guy, left, I cleaned up the kitchen and got back to normal living . I was relieved it was only a few hundred dollars to repair the pipe and the drywall. It looks good as new! All that is left is to throw some paint on it.
Overall, I’m fairly happy with the results of my leaky pipe situation. Yes, it stinks it happened, but there were some positives: I was able to finally see the pipe situation in the wall/ceiling area going up to my bathroom, and now the PVC and copper pipes are connected properly. I shouldn’t have any more troubles with these pipes going forward 🙂 To recap the costs, the cost of the plumber was $458 and the cost of the drywall repair was $293; a total of $751.
Do you fix things yourself or do you call a handyman? Have you ever had water damage or a leaky pipe? Did you do it yourself or have a plumber come over? Do you have any handyman tips for me?
Thank you for reading and have a good one!