Plumbing, Subbing and Humidifiers

I just got back with a weekend with Steve, Kim and little Benjamin. What a nice weekend! The rain kept us from cross-country skiing. Steve and I put in a garbage disposal and telephone extension in their house. Figuring out the exact piping at Home Depot was a trip. We ended up fitting together about 10 PVC parts in this fun jig-saw. Everything worked great (including my never-before-tested PVC gluing skills!) except for one thing: For the trap, we used a U-joint with a threaded and plugged hole in the bottom. The idea is that if you drop something in the sink, you can fetch it through the hole and not have to cut open the pipes with a saw. The problem was that it leaked! The rubber gasket sucked and the threads weren’t very good. We were about to break out the epoxy when Stevie threw out the gasket, wrapped the threads with sealing tape and screwed it on tight. The moral of the story is: don’t use U-joints with screw openings as sink traps. One alternative is to get a U-joint with compression couplings on both sides.

I also figured out how to fix our constantly leaking hot-water heater. After doing a little research for Stevie about hot water expansion tanks, it’s plainly obvious that the absence of one on our system is causing our hot water heater to leak out of the safety valve. When our system was installed, they put in this ridiculous expansion-tank wanna-be. It’s just a copper pipe coiled to look like a spring. It is supposed to have air in it to act as a bladder but it only has at most 1 pint of air or so in it. Though, after a few years all the air will be saturated into the water passing by. Our 50 gallon tank needs like 2 gallons of air bladder. The part that makes me angry is that we had “our” contractor come look at why the safety valve was leaking. He tested the water pressure (it was fine) and looked at the system… he even even pointed out the spring-bladder to me, and while in the furnace room installing a whole-house humidifier (incorrectly, but that’s another rant) he saw the valve leaking while the water heater was running. And after all that, he didn’t recommend putting in a real bladder but he DID replace the valve for $100 (it’s a $10 part). Of course that didn’t fix the problem! He’s a friggin idiot! I’ll be installing the new bladder myself, thank you very much.

I subbed on Friday!`It went just fine! I subbed for 2 high school typing classes and a Photoshop class. I was also a hall monitor for 1/2 an hour! I did well with the kids. Each class had a different feel but they were all good.

A couple fun memories:

  • About 3 minutes after my first class started, the VP came to the front door and stared the kids down for a few seconds. He was silently saying, “Be good with the substitute or I’ll kick your butts!” I very much appreciated his care for the class and I. I was very happy to realize by the second class that I didn’t need his much recognized help.
  • At the end of the day (a Friday) most of the kids had completed their Photoshop project and were doing other things. There were a few kids in the back of the class that were talking. The conversation was getting a tiny bit unruly so I decided to come by for a visit. They kept talking while I stood by, leaning on a cabinet. I put myself in the conversation saying a few things. The conversation cooled off a little with my presence so we all kept enjoying the relaxing talk. At one point, one of the kids used some profanity with another… I think it was something like, “… so I thought, fuck that.” As soon as it left his mouth, he caught himself and paused. He looked up at me sheepishly, knowing he had stepped over a line. I looked down at him and gave him a look that said, “Yea, I know you know you shouldn’t have said that, just don’t do it again.” And the conversation continued. That was a very good moment.
  • In one class there were some kids that really didn’t want to do their typing assignment. I talked to them about it, trying to convince them. After all, I’m “just the sub” and don’t have as much pull. The conversation pleasantly surprised me. I had this feeling that although they probably wouldn’t end up as star typists at the end of this class, it wasn’t that they were just slackers, they just weren’t interested in this particular activity. They were probably smart kids and would do well in whatever they put their hearts to. :-) But I still pushed them to type the assignment!

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