A final update on my inner handyman...aka "There are no shortcuts"

A final educational lesson from my plumbing experience.
Written by Christopher Dawson, Contributor

If you're utterly tired of my home plumbing journey of experiential learning meets modern STEM education allegory, feel free to read another article. However, a few folks wanted to know how things turned out and I feel the need to share one last little lesson. More of a reminder, actually. Special thanks to @mrhooker, by the way, for the title of this post....Here goes.

First of all, after a trip to Home Depot yesterday to purchase couplings for the pipes I boldly severed that connected our house to our well, I got to thinking about shortcuts. Maybe it was just a lack of sleep, but I could hear my dad telling me, "Son, there are no shortcuts in life." Of course, at the time, my dad had probably been talking about a math problem that I didn't feel like writing out completely or a report that I felt like writing with only 2 primary sources instead of four, but it was one of his favorite catchphrases, so it wasn't hard to recall the sensation of my 14-year old eyes rolling. I muttered under my breath as I thought about the failed shortcut I'd taken the night before to reconnect these pipes.

Knowing that it would be a lot easier to simply use a female-female external coupling with a bit of cement to pop the pipes back together, I'd done just that. Anyone with a clue about plumbing can imagine what happened when I repressurized the house to 50psi, especially given the age of the original pipes. Out comes the water and the wife gets to go another night without a much needed shower. By way of background, showers are to my wife what coffee is to me. They are basically essential to her existence and our continued happy marriage.

Getting back to the Home Depot run, I picked up the internal couplings that I should have used in the first place. I'd used these once to make giant hula hoops for my kid's school. They're a pain when you're standing in a school gym with good lighting, full range of motion, and light plastic tubing. Inside a well head with ancient ABS plastic pipes would probably be a nightmare, confirmed by Home Depot Guy. He suggested that I use a torch to soften the ABS plastic, but I really didn't want to spend $20 on a torch. I had a creme brulee torch at home. That should do the trick, right?

So I got home, new hacksaw, short lengths of replacement pipe, internal barbed couplers (as they're called), creme brulee torch, and petroleum jelly in hand (get your minds out of the gutter...I know it sounds a little kinky, but trust me, by this time it wasn't much fun), and climbed back into the well for what I hoped would be the last time. I couldn't help but think of those long geometry proofs or intricate calculus problems in which, for the only time in my life, I was careful, organized, and methodical (it became habit, even when my dad wasn't droning on about shortcuts). Wanting to finally get it right and get this project behind me, saving money and also being able to fully embrace the inner handyman struggling to emerge from my mild-mannered, geeky exterior, I slowly, carefully, and methodically set to work.

An hour later, the creme brulee torch and a bit of Vaseline worked like champs, my new pipes were connected, and, if I do say so myself, the plumbing looked a lot more professional than when I started. I hooked us up to a neighboring building to prime our pump and, much to my family's amazement, we had water. And we were running at 50psi instead of the 40 we'd been pushing when the jet assembly clogged 3 days ago.

So there you have it. Slow and steady wins the race, there are no shortcuts, etc., etc. Not only did I learn more than I'd ever wanted to know about plumbing, but I was reminded of how important it is that we give things time. I forced myself to take the time to do things right, I gave our mineral and rust clogged pipes time to fully discharge and settle, I took the time to clean out every newly clogged faucet head (rust is insidious), and all is well with the world. Now if we can just get our students to write out their steps on algebra problems...

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