Monday, January 18, 2010

Plumbing tip: cold or wet?

No drips
As I prepared for bed last night, while standing at the bathroom sink, I glanced down and saw a pool of liquid in front of my toes. My first thought was a cat had decided that location was a better place than its box to do its business. However as I began cleaning it up, I realized there was more there than a feline's bladder would hold. It also didn't smell as I expected it would.

This was water coming out from under the cabinet. Uh, oh. Not good. On further investigation, I found a drip from the shutoff valve for the toilet next to the sink. Sigh. I knew what my day off would entail. I went down to the basement, shut the water off to the house, mopped up what I could, put towels under the drip to catch anything remaining in the pipes and went to bed.

This morning I picked up a new valve at the local toy store (aka Home Depot), came home and replaced the valve. After I turned on the water, I went back up to check for leaks. The tank was filling, so cold water was running through the pipes. I find it hard when doing plumbing work to feel the difference between cold and wet and so I used a trick I picked up somewhere years ago.
To find leaks, wipe a piece of tissue paper around the joints.
The fine paper will fill the small crevices at the juncture of the pipes and wick up any moisture it finds. When you look at the paper, wet spots are obvious by the color and texture differences, a sure sign of further work needed. A second check is also a good idea to make sure there aren't any slow leaks. In this case, everything was good and I could move on to my next task for the day.