Monday, July 5, 2010

Money Down the Drain

It's baa-aaack. That noise in our sinks every time we flush a toilet. Oh, no.

In case you don't remember, about a year ago, we had a similar sound, which led within weeks to sewage backing up into the downstairs shower. Back then, we went through American Home Shield, who referred a plumbing outfit to us that first said that we had a root problem in the main line, which AHS doesn't cover, and then amended their opinion to say that it was a problem with a collapsed pipe (our house is old, so we have clay pipes) in the foundation, for which they wanted to charge us the exact same amount. Now, digging up the back yard and laying new pipe doesn't seem to me to be at the same level as simply fixing a pipe that was supposedly busted less than a foot down in the foundation, but by this time we were over a barrel because we couldn't use any of the bathrooms, so we had to pay them to get us back to functional.

Of course, a year later, here we are again, because obviously it *was* roots, but they blew those out with the initial scope and it's taken a year or so for them to grow back; they basically did the least amount of work possible to get us working again and then drove off down the road, probably laughing. Since then, we've amended our coverage with AHS, covering only electrical, because our 100yo home has ancient wiring, plaster walls and I'm sure lead paint. We pay $15/mo, which works for me, and basically know that we'll only go through them if there's a major horror show emergency, like a life insurance policy you hope you never have to use.

Anyhow, the other week the gurgling began again, and a friend referred me to a plumber, who very kindly referred me to someone else who he thought would be able to help me more, a guy who does main-line re-surfacing (it's basically a balloon thing they put in your old pipe, inflate, and allow to dry into a new pipe) that's impermeable to roots, etc, and best of all, your yard doesn't get dug up. THAT guy, Matt, was relocating his business and so was tied up for a week, so he suggested that we call Roto-Rooter to blow out anything in the line, which would buy at least a few weeks, and then call him back to schedule the re-do. Well, after Roto-Rooter came, things were working so well, we crossed our fingers that we might get another year out of things, at which time maybe I would be working and we'd have more money, so I didn't call Matt back.

Of course, it's a holiday weekend, and last night, literally as we were on our way out the door to the fireworks, the downstairs toilet flushed, gave a mighty belch, and everything that had just gone down came floating back up. It finally went back down, and a few hours later when I tried to flush it (empty, obviously) it worked OK, but we haven't used it since, and are trying not to use water-return things in the house today - the dishwasher, washing machine, showers - in an effort to limp through until I can call RR back tomorrow. We're still in the 30-day window when they'll come back out for free, thankfully. Then, my next call will be to Matt, to see when he can get out here and fix our main line pipe.

On the one hand, I'm glad it will be done, because I've had a feeling that the plumbers from last year screwed up in not replacing the line. It will be nice to get it over with and know that it's not on the table anymore.

On the other, I'm so sick of things coming up like this all the time. It never fails. I had a surplus from my student loans, about $3k, that I put towards credit card debt. We're so close to being paid off. (Yes, I'm using loan surplus money to pay off debt, because we're allowed to take some out for living expenses, and I figure our credit debt is less than a year living on-campus, and it's trading "bad debt" for permanent-low-fixed-rate good debt that I can claim on my taxes. It's fair, especially considering a bunch of what's on my card is the cost of the community college classes from last year, which I got no aid for.) OK, so $3k I used to pay off some debt. Guess what a new main line costs? About $3k. Yes, yes, I see the glass half-full side, but I'm TIRED of that side. This has happened every time I've gotten any money from anywhere, my entire life. Tax returns year after year have gone to car problems, house problems, Josie's spacer/retainer. Every year. The closer we get to paying things off, the more aggressive the cosmos seems to be in throwing things at us. This is two years in a row of massive plumbing expense. Why can't I just once have a windfall without an emergency situation coming up? We've tried so hard for YEARS to get out of debt that we've had since we got married, and every time I see light at the end of the tunnel something happens and we get screwed back to where we were, if not a little further down. I swear, if I didn't know better, I'd think there were gnomes working for credit card companies following us around and vandalizing our lives.

Sigh. Cross your fingers that nothing explodes out of my downstairs bathroom before I can call someone in to start the repair process. Again.


Sarah said...

Ugh. And also? I KNOW THE FEELING. That all surprise extra money immediately gets earmarked for boring but necessary expenditures and never for, like, "Surprise vacation!" or "New furniture!" Or even for semi-practical but not strictly necessary things that I've been wanting, like having our piece of crap, horribly cracked driveway resealed. Grrr.
I think maybe normal people just don't get to do fun stuff with their money until their kids are grown?
So I have about twenty more years, if you factor in one more kid. Awesome.

creative kerfuffle said...

do you have a septic tank? that could be part of the plumbing issues. at some point we're going to have to have a tree cut down in our backyard because the first owners (house is 20-30 yrs old) planted a tree over tank. nice. i SO feel your pain w/ the take one step forward, see the light at the end of the tunnel and then take two steps back. it's always been that what for us too. i almost hate when "surprise" or unexpected money comes our way because there's always going to be something needing fixed.