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Your worst case?

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  • Your worst case?

    In 1980, a TV news team went through the two-bedroom house from which two children had just been removed by social services.
    The house was filthy and cluttered with debris: a mix of newspapers and clothing, magazines, underwear, dirty dishes and silverware, toys, etc.

    I found the lawyer for the family, called and he gave me their address.

    Mother was obviously mentally ill and stayed in her dark bedroom.
    Father seemed perfectly normal but was overwhelmed. He had a job and money for cigarettes but did not hire a plumber fix anything. When I arrived, a co-worker was there commiserating but doing nothing to help.

    The kitchen sink line was clogged. Water constantly dribbling from the leaking faucet was overflowing the sink, running down the counter and onto the floor and out the nearby back porch door.
    The back yard was green along the path which the water traveled. (This is what inspired my recent gray water post here.)

    The bathroom sink was also clogged and its faucet could not be shut off entirely. Water was dribbling through the floor into the crawlspace.
    They were washing their dishes in the bathtub.
    The toilet, though filthy, worked fine.

    In my chimney sweep attire: two black turtlenecks and two black Levi jeans, I went under the basementless house into dark, dank smelly crawlspace. The opening was guarded by black widow spiders.
    The drain lines were 2-inch lead pipes. (I had never seen a lead pipe before.)
    I knocked on them to determine where the clogs were. Fortunately the clogs were about 2-1/2 feet above the soil.

    Luckily my Boy Scout pocket knife always in my pocket cut very cleanly into the lead pipes just below the clogs.
    With a long screwdriver I broke through the very hard clogs and after the water finished draining, chiseled the rest of buildup from the pipe walls.
    Then I rolled the lead pipe flaps back together and used ductape to seal the incisions.

    I cleared a way through the crawlspace filth and cobwebs and found the main shutoff. (There were no stops in the house.)

    Fortunately, the husband had washers and tools and I was able to replace the worn out washers in the faucets.
    For the first time the WARM water stopped flowing. I found a scrubrush and cleaned the empty sinks with Comet cleanser.

    In the small living room under more debris was a NICE Baldwin baby grand piano!
    Mouse droppings were adhered to the keys from candy residue stuck on the keys. Pressing one key also moved the adjacent keys down because of the mouse dropping between them.

    Cardboard failed, but my Boy Scout knife slid between the keys got all the dropping out and after cleaning the keys with a clean wet wash cloth, I played Bach and Beethoven on the piano.
    The mother was quite moved by the beautiful music and emerged from her bedroom into her living room.

    I helped clear as much clutter out of the house as I reasonably could.

    On the bus home, I remembered that I had forgotten to flush out their water heater which was probably full sediment from the water constantly running through it. But the overwhelming situation distracted me.

    A few years later read that the mother had died.
    I'd take an educated guess - but I'm unqualified.
    It ain't just soot, it's paydirt.
    "I swear, wherever Gift goes, argument follows." -Youtube comment

  • #2
    Re: Your worst case?

    Originally posted by Robert Gift View Post
    In 1980, a TV news team went through the two-bedroom house from which two children had just been removed by social services.
    The house was filthy and cluttered with debris: a mix of newspapers and clothing, magazines, underwear, dirty dishes and silverware, toys, etc.

    I found the lawyer for the family, called and he gave me their address.

    Mother was obviously mentally ill and stayed in her dark bedroom.
    Father seemed perfectly normal but was overwhelmed. He had a job and money for cigarettes but did not hire a plumber fix anything. When I arrived, a co-worker was there commiserating but doing nothing to help.

    The kitchen sink line was clogged. Water constantly dribbling from the leaking faucet was overflowing the sink, running down the counter and onto the floor and out the nearby back porch door.
    The back yard was green along the path which the water traveled. (This is what inspired my recent gray water post here.)

    The bathroom sink was also clogged and its faucet could not be shut off entirely. Water was dribbling through the floor into the crawlspace.
    They were washing their dishes in the bathtub.
    The toilet, though filthy, worked fine.

    In my chimney sweep attire: two black turtlenecks and two black Levi jeans, I went under the basementless house into dark, dank smelly crawlspace. The opening was guarded by black widow spiders.
    The drain lines were 2-inch lead pipes. (I had never seen a lead pipe before.)
    I knocked on them to determine where the clogs were. Fortunately the clogs were about 2-1/2 feet above the soil.

    Luckily my Boy Scout pocket knife always in my pocket cut very cleanly into the lead pipes just below the clogs.
    With a long screwdriver I broke through the very hard clogs and after the water finished draining, chiseled the rest of buildup from the pipe walls.
    Then I rolled the lead pipe flaps back together and used ductape to seal the incisions.

    I cleared a way through the crawlspace filth and cobwebs and found the main shutoff. (There were no stops in the house.)

    Fortunately, the husband had washers and tools and I was able to replace the worn out washers in the faucets.
    For the first time the WARM water stopped flowing. I found a scrubrush and cleaned the empty sinks with Comet cleanser.

    In the small living room under more debris was a NICE Baldwin baby grand piano!
    Mouse droppings were adhered to the keys from candy residue stuck on the keys. Pressing one key also moved the adjacent keys down because of the mouse dropping between them.

    Cardboard failed, but my Boy Scout knife slid between the keys got all the dropping out and after cleaning the keys with a clean wet wash cloth, I played Bach and Beethoven on the piano.
    The mother was quite moved by the beautiful music and emerged from her bedroom into her living room.

    I helped clear as much clutter out of the house as I reasonably could.

    On the bus home, I remembered that I had forgotten to flush out their water heater which was probably full sediment from the water constantly running through it. But the overwhelming situation distracted me.

    A few years later read that the mother had died.
    B.S. We call that in the South just sorry as he!!. You should have ground on that m'fer like a drill sergeant until he fixed everything and cleaned it all up.

    Teach a man to fish.

    (You did do a good deed though.)

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Your worst case?

      >>>I'd be a man of many convictions. Fortunately was never caught.<<<

      If you was never caught where did you get the convictions?

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Your worst case?

        Originally posted by shacko View Post
        >>>I'd be a man of many convictions. Fortunately was never caught.<<<

        If you was never caught where did you get the convictions?
        My fire department polygraph was absurd.
        Interviewer: "Have you ever been convicted of a felony?"
        Robert: "No."
        "Never got caught?"
        I'd take an educated guess - but I'm unqualified.
        It ain't just soot, it's paydirt.
        "I swear, wherever Gift goes, argument follows." -Youtube comment

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Your worst case?

          Mine was a mobil home an absolute shnat hole. I wanted to leave but the lady was half off her rocker and that is the only reason I did the job. I would never work in a place like that for a sane person. What the heck I've worked in lift stations so that bathroom wasn't so bad.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Your worst case?

            We all get in some Nasty places
            They smell better after 10 min
            Just dont go back out in real air till your done
            I dont feel bad for them
            They should do some thing to make there life better
            Like take out the trash, pick up all the smelly cloths,any thing to help there self

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Your worst case?

              Cat houses man, cat houses.

              If you've got cats, odds are your house smells to some degree whether you know it or not. Your friends just might not be telling you about it.

              No offense intended, none of my business what kind of pet you keep.

              Worked at one on Saturday that almost knocked me down. 5 big cats.

              J.C.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Your worst case?

                Dog houses can reek too!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Your worst case?

                  Just came across my worst about a week ago.

                  The lady just isn't quite all there. and the guy who mows her lawn called us, said she didn't have water.

                  I go out and the house has mouse nests everywhere, debris and filth, You can't see the floor. The sheetrock is deteriorating from the mold, the bathtub has spider webs crisscrossing it, and the toilet had maggots living in it. she tells me that she can't turn her water on because a pipe is broken, she points to the toilet supply line, which is split.

                  I replace that, and turn the water on, the water heater piping is shot.
                  Replace the cold side piping, shut the valve off, and kick the water back on.

                  The crawl space is full of split galvanized piping, oh, and a few snakeskins are plainly visible, something has to be eating the mice after all.

                  I pulled off at that point, told them I could make the repair without major work, and an exterminator.
                  No, it's not rocket science, it's plumbing and unlike rocket science it requires a license.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Your worst case?

                    I got a call for a leak under the kitchen sink. When I get there the first thing I see is garbage everywhere. there were convenient little paths through the garbage. I managed to pry the cabinet door open and there was indeed a leak. The hot side stop rotted off and was shooting water. I go to the basement and there's 2 inches of water with all sorts of garbage floating around. When I got done I told my boss I needed hazardous duty pay.

                    Of course there is nothing nastier than a urinal in a bar....

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Your worst case?

                      wasnt worst case but repiping apartments one time on second floor always did back to back bathrooms from one side to avoid windows (occupied units) got done with wall and had to go to other side for stops.nock on door and guy opens and holy s***. newspaper from floor to ceiling with a little trail solid through entire unit. the weight alone could have caused that unit to drop.the tennant was skytzo and maintence made him remove all paper for fire hazard.saw him for three days taking trips to dumster.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Your worst case?

                        I agree 100% with this. The worst one I was ever in the lady had around 100 (that's not a typo) cats inside her little double wide mobile home. She said she was running an indoor cat sanctuary. By herself. Needless to say she was a little crazy.

                        That was over 12 years ago and I can still remember the smell.

                        Originally posted by JCsPlumbing View Post
                        Cat houses man, cat houses.

                        If you've got cats, odds are your house smells to some degree whether you know it or not. Your friends just might not be telling you about it.

                        No offense intended, none of my business what kind of pet you keep.

                        Worked at one on Saturday that almost knocked me down. 5 big cats.

                        J.C.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Your worst case?

                          "I found the lawyer for the family, called and he gave me their address."

                          the lawyer should have been investagated if not disbarred for doing this. he is very lucky the family did not sue him for not keeping his attorney client privilege.

                          i do agree you did a very nice thing and dont think there are many people that will do anything to help anyone unless there is something in it for them. so way to go.
                          9/11/01, never forget.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Your worst case?

                            My worst? Nah, Here's one.

                            Some years back. Was it the tiny cramped home in Connecticut where the husband and wife had 50 plus cockapoo type dogs running around loose? The ammonia urine smell about knocked me out while I was still outside. The dog crap laying here and there added a little weight to the overall odiferous ambiance. They had a plugged drain. The dogs were nipping at me from the door to the sink. The man of the house was shooing them away from me with a broom. The racket they made was cacophony. I cleared the drain. Didn't charge them. (Figured they couldn't afford it.) I got out as fast as I could and called the animal humane society. The next week they were in the newspaper. Dogs all taken away and distributed to various shelters.
                            Time flies like an arrow.

                            Fruit flies like a banana.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Your worst case?

                              As I said earlier, dogs can reek also!

                              Comment

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