ON a boat, you pretty much have to be willing to take anything apart and try to fix it. Unless, that is, you have a lot more money than we do and can pay others to fix things for you, but even then, you can’t rely on finding experts in far-flung locales when something goes wrong. Philip ends up doing most of the electrical and mechanical repairs while I tend to focus more on plumbing and caulking and sewing, but I’ve still learned more about electrics and motors than I ever thought possible.
Now, I was pretty handy before we moved on the boat – one of my colleagues, an older gentleman, used to call me “Lady Plumber” after I refused to let the organization spend money on a plumber when the kitchen faucet was spitting. I unscrewed the trap, cleaned out the rust flakes, and screwed it back on. Everyone was totally impressed. I was stunned. Doesn’t everyone know how to do that? Apparently not, as the next week I fixed a “broken” toilet by jury-rigging a new chain for the float, saving another hundred bucks or more on an unnecessary plumber.
So when my macerating toilet at home broke and the plumber the management company called insisted that it couldn’t be repaired as that model of toilet isn’t made anymore and would have to be replaced to the tune of 1,400 bucks, I was somewhat sceptical. In a series of increasingly frustrating emails to the management company, whom I generally adore, I asked them to ask the plumber exactly what was wrong and how he came to the decision that the entire unit needed to be replaced. Did he check for air leaks into the system? Did he check for blockages in the pump impeller or blades? Nope. He just said, it’s broke, so give me lots of moolah to install a new one. I replied, “No freaking way, Jose!” and asked for the make and model. I called the company, and they said that it sounded like there was a leak in the system or a blocked impeller/blade and that they did indeed make that model of toilet and could send replacement parts. Huh. How about that? A plumber in DC lying for more business? No surprise there. So I wrote back to the management company and asked them to call one of the manufacturer’s recommended plumbers, which they did. The verdict?
The pump motor is broken, and we can’t get parts for it or buy the macerator separately, so you’ll have to pay us 1,800 to install a new one for you. Seriously. WTF???? I know for a fact that this is NOT TRUE YOU LYING PLUMBER BASTARD. I had a phone conversation with the damn company. So now I have to call the company, confirm that they can send a new pump, or at least the entire macerator box( as opposed to replacing the actual throne as well), and then find another plumber who won’t freaking lie to me. The crazy thing is, the management company couldn’t handle this – they don’t understand how a macerating toilet works. Ok, so, neither did I but I LOOKED IT UP ON THE INTERWEBS. SERIOUSLY, WHAT IS WRONG WITH EVERYONE? Can you not type the words “mascerating toilet troubleshooting” into the Google machine like I did?
So, yeah, I’m frustrated, and very much wish more parents taught their children how to repair things like mine did. Thanks, you guys.