By December 23, 2009

Snap! (I’ve Got the Power)

On Monday I noticed that some of my things were damp underneath the kitchen sink. Turns out that there was a small leak coming from the cold water hose. No problem, right? I read the specifications right off of the hose, went to Home Depot, and purchased a replacement.

I turned the knob on the cold water shut off valve and started to unscrew the old hose. Water started spraying out. Hrm … didn’t I just turn the valve off? I turned it the other way, to make sure. Then this happened:

The knob snapped off right in my hand. Water sprayed ten feet back and all over the floor. I clamped my hand over the spray; it was the best I could do while Sedagive? scampered for a bucket. The bucket filled almost instantly.

Here’s the fun part: I had no idea where the house’s shut off valve was, and the last time I had to do this the valve was under a manhole-style cover in my yard in Williamsburg. We had about four inches of ice and snow in the yard, and I didn’t even know where to start looking. I decided to try underneath the house in a hope that the shut off valve was in an accessible — and dry — location.

Sure enough, there were three valves under the house. I channeled my inner R2D2 and shut them all down. It took us quite a while to clean up the water. We went to Lowe’s to get a replacement plastic valve, and the gentleman explained that the valve was a Quest fitting that was no longer made. Apparently Shell made a bunch of this shit out of polybutylene and it had a reputation for failing. Shell settled a class action lawsuit for a billion dollars (which I missed by seven months).

I bought a metal “shark’s tooth” style replacement fitting. It didn’t make me super confident — you just push the fitting onto the pipe and it clamps down on its own. How reliable would it be? What made me even less confident is that while the cold water started working again, there seemed to be a leak from the hot side now. My dishwasher feeds from that line, and I didn’t want to deal with trying to replace that fitting.

The plumber is here now, and he had to scrounge for some antiquated Quest parts. Keep your fingers crossed.

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3 Comments on "Snap! (I’ve Got the Power)"

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  1. roclar says:

    D: That really sucks.

  2. Gremlin says:

    Sharkbite fittings are like magic. With proper pipe prep, they seem foolproof. I’ve used them repeatedly and most engineering firms/building code boards in our area have approved them for both residential and commercial use. Recommended.

    Don’t scrounge for that old polybutylene crap, it sucked then and it sucks now. I’m surprised your home inspection didn’t throw a flag on it. If that inspection came with a guarantee, he should be libel for it.

  3. Rocky says:

    They still sell them at Home Depot. You can find them in the piping section. I had one break last year and spent half a day trying to find a part that would fit. After about 10 trips and multiple purchases and returns between 2 Lowe’s stores and 3 Home Depots I found the correct replacement. I know I’m a little late, but its good to know where to get them if your whole house has them on every water connection, like mine does.