Saturday, May 22, 2004

Plumbing Progress

On Wednesday of this week our plumber came by and did a collection of small jobs for us. While we haven't had the best of luck picking contractors so far, our plumber has been great; he's a good guy who appears to do quality work. When our local building inspector checked over the replumbing of our bathrooms he had nothing but compliments, which I take as a good sign.

earthquake valve pictureThe two biggest jobs on Wednesday were to install an earthquake shutoff valve on our main gas line (see the picture to the right) and put a second showerhead in the master bath shower. The inspection we had done before buying our house recommended the earthquake valve, which was the first time I'd ever heard of them. The valves are functionally pretty simple; from what I can tell they contain a little ball that rolls off a perch during an earthquake, shutting off the gas. Installing it was relatively cheap: ~$150 for the valve (manufactured by Pacific Seismic Products), ~$90 for labor, and some additional for permit fees. What's surprised me is that almost no one I've talked to around here has ever heard of the things, even though we're in earthquake country. I grew up in California, so I'm not paranoid about earthquakes, but I figured that a few hundred dollars was worth preventing a post-earthquake gas fire. But then again, since nobody else seems to have these valves, our house will probably just burn down after the neighboring houses all catch on fire ...

The other work was relatively minor. Most of our gas lines had ancient shutoff valves that required a wrench to turn, so we replaced these with hand-turnable valves. Our heater also had a rigid gas line running to it from the wall which we had replaced with a flexible line, again for earthquake safety.

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