Thursday, December 08, 2011

Like the circles that you find

These may not be the windmills of your mind, but they are becoming a common sight all around France. Between the Loire Valley and Paris there is a wind farm that you can see from the autoroute or the train in the vast flatness of the Beauce region. These éoliennes are in Champagne just east of the Côte des blancs vineyards.

You can get an idea of the scale if you look at the tractor in the center left of the photo.

Today our plumber is coming to fix a mess I made last Sunday. I've been noticing a gradual drop in water pressure in the shower over the last few months. When this happens in the kitchen and bathroom sinks, I remove the aerators from the faucets and clean them in hot vinegar to dissolve the calcium deposits blocking the water flow (we have moderately hard water). I thought maybe the filters on the shower faucet needed to be cleaned, so I removed the faucet control.

I turned the water supply off and removed the faucet connections with a wrench. The hot water connector came off fine, but when I turned the cold water connector, I noticed that the pipe itself was turning. Eventually the nut came off and I was able to clean the filters (they weren't very clogged at all -- I'll get to that later) and re-install the faucet unit. When I turned the water back on, there was only hot water. No cold.

Without going into all the detective work I did, I finally wondered if when the pipe was turning, it was twisting the flexible water hose behind the shower wall. I got a ladder and climbed up to the top of the shower stall and looked back behind it with a flashlight, pressing my face up against the wall so I could peer down into the narrow space between the wall and the shower with one eye. Sure enough, the hose was kinked. No cold water could get through.

I tried, with Ken's help, to twist it back with no success. The only solution is to unbolt the shower stall from the wall and move it away from the wall. Since I had no idea how to deal with the drain connection, we decided to call the plumber who originally installed the shower. He came by on Monday afternoon and we told him what happened. He said it's not a big deal (we shall see) and he would come on Thursday morning (today) to disconnect the drain, move the shower stall, and replace the kinked water hose.

We also talked about the pressure issue and the fact that about once a month when I clean the calcium deposits from the aerators, there is a bunch of what look like sand grains in the faucet filters. He asked me if, when I turn on the water, there is good pressure for a second or two then it dwindles. Bingo! That's exactly what happens. He thinks that the sand grains and the pressure issue means that the water heater needs to be cleaned out, so he's doing that, too. He's familiar with the make of our heater and says it's not a big deal to do.

We didn't get the heater new, it was given to us by friends who remodeled a nearby house. The unit was relatively new, but sat unused for some time before our friends bought the house. The plumber who installed it for us a bit less than two years ago added a pressure regulator right after our water meter, before the heating tank. For some reason, that is supposed to prevent harm to the heater. Our regular plumber said the regulator is an Italian model and it's not adjustable. He wants to put a French model on so that we can adjust the pressure to where we want it. I think he's going to do that today, too, but I'm not sure.

I'll let you know how it all goes. In the meantime, we've been using the small shower stall in the utility room. That's what we call the dog's shower since it's where she gets rinsed off after her daily walks.


  1. 'Not a big deal' makes it sound very cheap. I bet it won't be once it is all added up. Still, what can you do? Shower the rest of your life in the dog's shower?

  2. Oh, hey! Happy Birthday, Cheryl!

    Good luck with the plumbing issues, Walt. )


  3. I like your can-do attitude. You accomplish a lot around your house. Still, every once in a while it's nice to have a professional help you out.

    Happy birthday, Cheryl!

  4. Bet you're quite happy to have that extra shower right now! I hope the plumber fixes everything and Callie gets her shower to herself again;)

  5. Ah, the joys of home ownership. As soon as one thing is fixed, something else needs attention. It is a good thing you can do a lot of it yourself.

  6. I've seen a couple of those when traveling between Toulouse and Paris.

  7. The rolling hills of Eastern Oregon and Washington states are filled with wind turbines...giant windfarms out here.....

  8. Nice photo - love the colours of the fields. At least the windvanes look better than a field of ugly pylons.

    I hope you get your plumbing fixed as promised. Our plumber keeps putting our job (moving the ballon into the cellar) further down the list, behind people with more urgent problems. Grrrrrr.......

  9. Denmark and Austria are full of wind turbines, too. Here in the East Coast of the U.S. any suggestion to install wind turbines begins the blood letting and "not in my back yard" litigations.

  10. Plumbing is the bain of my existence!

    Your post reminds me of a rate schedule I once saw in a mechanic's shop:

    "Basic rate $20/hour
    If you watch $40/hour
    If you help $80/hour
    If you tried to fix it yourself $90/hour"


  11. andrew, exactly. Just the price that homeowners pay.

    judy, thanks. We'll be glad when it's done.

    carolyn, I usually know my limits. Not this time.

    mark, yes. That's me.

    evelyn, it's fixed! At least it's back in working order...

    archguy, so true.

    starman, that doesn't surprise me. Now they're talking about putting them off the coast.

    alewis, California is, too.

    jean, thanks! Good luck with that!

    will, I know how that goes.

    mike, hehehe! Well, I tried to fix part of it myself. And I watched a little (I wanted to see the inside of the water heater), and I helped when some water started spilling out by emptying his bucket into the sink as he tried to catch the water with another. I guess I'm in big trouble!


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