The $800 pipe



Six hundred dollars for a toilet seat? Peanuts. I paid almost $800 for a six dollar pipe, and I don’t even work for the government.

My water stunk – the water coming out of my faucet smelled like rotten eggs. In the Navy I would have just called Public Works or talked to the Damage Control Assistant and someone smart would have fixed it.

But I’m not in the Navy anymore. I had to call plumbers. Each of them came out and every one of them said it was my hot water heater.

But the smell only came out of the cold water side.

Each of them asked if I had a well. I don’t.

They all rubbed their chins, said something philisophical like, “Hmmm,” then handed me an estimate to fix the problem. Some wanted to replace all my pipes. Some wanted to install filter systems. None of them had a clue why.

So I called the city. He walked around, suggested my problem was the hot water heater, asked if I had a well, and then he flushed out the fire hydrant down the street and left.

The smell was still there, so I decided to find the source. I started with the little pipe under the sink – the one that connects the sink to the water supply – and there it was. It took about five minutes and six bucks to replace it the and now the water is perfect.

But while he was at my house, the city guy noticed I needed a backflow protector on the sprinkler system, and he gave me a deadline to fix it, or else.

This was my bill:

Install backflow protector: $650.00
Inspector fee to certify the system: $ 70.00
Permit Fee: $ 71.40

Total cost: $791.40

For a six dollar pipe.

So now I have a little more empathy for the guy who bought the toilet seats for the government, and for the poor sap who paid way too much for government screwdrivers. I think I understand what happened.

The whole thing has made me wiser, though, and the next time something crops up I’ll know how to handle it.

I’ll sell the house.


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