Quiet Desperation

Do-it-yourself plumbing is a pipe dream


Indoor plumbing.

The world’s population was able to do without indoor plumbing for centuries and still evolve.

There are those around the world who do not have indoor plumbing to this day.

Others, like campers, find a way to rinse, wash and toilet.

Indoor plumbing is a great convenience. Generally, indoor plumbing repair is not.

Attempting do-it-yourself indoor plumbing repairs is directly related to the age of the homeowner. The older the homeowner is the less likely he or she wants to contort under a sink.

Plumbing technologies, according to the kids on “This Old House” have seen significant advancements.

However, one thing has not gotten any better; in fact, it’s become worse.

I refer to access.

First things first. An overtightened valve part next to a toilet was the difference between a relatively minor and inexpensive do-it-myself project and calling a professional with the Magic Tools.

Without the Magic Tools, I would have compounded the problem. When I was younger, I compounded the problem a number of times.

An affable 38-year-old named “Dustin” was dispatched who never showed his face because he wore a mask through the entire operation.

He also wore booties.

As kitchen and bathroom designs and furnishings have become more refined and elegant the mechanics have been relegated to nooks and crannies in order to keep them out of sight.

Who wants to see a shut off valve right next to a beautiful sink?


Wherever there is water in the home there is the possibility of trouble.

This goes for dishwashers, washing machines, even aquariums.

The builder’s grade dishwasher that came with the house and sat on a wood floor exploded.

The builder’s grade sump pump that came with the house exploded and flooded the basement.

Dustin said there were openings in the plumbing profession because it’s not seen as an attractive pursuit by young people looking for a career.

“I’d like you to meet my fiancé. He’s a plumber.”

“Oh, that’s too bad.”

If I had a family, I’d welcome a plumber.

If your son is an art major, like I was, don’t count on him to fix your leak.

If I had it to do all over again, I might have gone into plumbing instead and tried to find a way to standardize and simplify and make it possible for almost anyone to repair or replace plumbing.

This does not include running pipes from the basement to the bathroom or doing in-wall work.

But I should have been able to solve my recent problem without too much trouble or becoming a contortionist. The part that had to be replaced was poorly made and doomed to begin with.

Dustin said many of his repairs stem from homeowners who have watched a YouTube video and think they know what they’re doing and want to avoid the high costs of a professional.

Dustin attributed costs to the equipment and the associated overhead involved, something I understood. He goes from job to job to job (in a pink truck) and encounters something unique at each one.

“Give me an example,” I asked.

He said he had to army-crawl into a crawl space to swap out kitchen disposal pipes that had leaked garbage that provided nourishment for the frogs he met along the way.

Craig Marshall Smith is an artist, educator and Highlands Ranch resident. He can be reached at craigmarshallsmith@comcast.net.


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