Help Wanted: Plumber Repair Service ... Please!

Photo: Elis Fan Club/flickrIt all started when I noticed a strange smell coming from under the kitchen sink. At first the odor was so slight that I thought it was just my super-sensitive nose acting up. (Yes, I admit it: I am the type who spends several weeks every spring sniffling and snuffling as seasonal allergies afflict my schnoz. I’m also the type who notices lingering cigarette smoke in a room at fifty paces. On the plus side, you don’t need to ask twice – I love to stop and smell the flowers.)

But back to our story ...

The Perfume

Over time, as the “perfume” grew in intensity, I took action and emptied the under-sink area. The process reminded me of going to the circus and watching all those clowns climb out of a Volkswagen. Who’da thunk I had so much stuff stashed in that small space! I scrubbed the cabinet’s interior – top, bottom, and sides – with a soapy bleach solution. Then I gave the trash can, also normally stored under the sink, a good scouring as well.

All was fine for a few days. Then the aroma returned. I wondered whether I should call a plumber repair service to come have a whiff, but as a new homeowner, I wasn’t sure who to contact or how much they would charge. (Somehow I couldn’t imagine that my firstborn would be willing to spend the next 20 years as a Miami plumber’s apprentice, no matter how much he loves the beach.)

So I dithered and dallied until *the* night.

*The* Night

It started like so many of my evenings. I was typing away on the computer until far later than was good for me. Finally ready to toddle off to bed, I paused to wash the few dishes left in the kitchen sink. And then I heard it – the unmistakable drip, drip of water coming from somewhere it was not supposed to be.

Bravely I opened the bottom cupboard door and gave the plumbing a fierce look. I could see liquid oozing from the hot water valve, so I tried turning the valve in an attempt to shut it off. The piece came off in my hand – I still get the shudders thinking of it! – and the flow became a torrent.

I raced for the main water shutoff valve ("conveniently" placed by my home’s previous owner on the exterior wall). Once the water was turned off, the next steps were to clean the flood and phone my insurance company. NOTE: Trying to multitask by doing these at one and the same time was not an efficient course of action.

I managed to mop up the mess but could not for the life of me find the emergency insurance number. Since there was no water actively flooding my home, I decided to try to get some sleep.

The Plumbing Service

To make a long story short, I reached my insurer’s big-name, state-wide plumbing service first thing in the morning and was told to leave a message. Two hours later I left another, considerably more irate message. And so it continued throughout the day, a day during which I had to leave my water main closed to avoid a repeat performance of the previous night’s Niagara Falls simulation.

Around suppertime, a plumber did show up. It took him all of five minutes to install a new valve, less time than he spent writing out the painfully high bill. Even with the cost of the part … and travel time and administrative expenses, that fellow was charging considerably more per hour than I made in a day.

Did my insurance pay for any of the plumbing cost? No, funnily enough, the amount I had to write a check for was exactly equivalent to the deductible. When I called my agent to ask the point of hiring such a pricey plumber, he replied, “Well, if there had been any more serious damage, you would have been covered.”

The Lesson

I see. Kind of. Enough to teach me two things.

1. For small, fast repairs, find a trustworthy plumber repair service in my area.

2. Never ignore what my nose is trying to tell me.

Laura Firszt writes for

Updated October 23, 2018.

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