A repair gone amiss

We got through the weekend with the line to the ice-maker and water-dispenser inoperative. Tuesday on my way home from work I stopped by the hardware store and bought the right connector for the water line. (I brought in the section of line that was leaking to be sure to buy the right connector.) Only four dollars and a little bit of work, and the repair would be almost as good as new. Or so I thought.

The men who helped me at the hardware store noticed that my cutting of the line had not been smooth. “You want to make sure to have a clean cut, or the connector will leak,” they warned me. Following their advice, I recut the line, slid it into the connector, and turned the water back on. Success! The connection was not leaking! I was ready to push the refrigerator back into place when I saw another puddle forming. This leak was coming from the adapter—a piece of plumbing that connected the house line to the line that came from the refrigerator, which happened to be different sizes. I shut off the water again and took apart the adapter. I found that the line had corroded right at the adapter. I cut off the corroded end and started to reassemble the adaptor.

The house line would not fit into the adapter.

For about an hour I struggled with the connection, trying to find some way of getting the line into the adapter. I pressed as hard as I could. I tried various tools. I even softened the plastic of the house line in a flame. That looked as if it was going to work, but when I turned the water on again, the line blew out of the adapter immediately. Of course I turned the water off again and cleaned up the latest puddle.

I took a break to eat supper, then returned to the job. A new puddle had formed while I was eating, even though I had left the line closed. I checked the cutoff valve under the sink, loosened it and tightened it again, but a trickle of water was continuing to flow down the line. By this time, I could hear water hissing through the valve even when it was turned off as hard as I could push it.

I know my limitations. Replacing a leaking shut-off valve is outside of my skill set. I grabbed the phone book and called a local plumbing firm. They warned me that there would be an extra charge for coming after hours, but I agreed to pay the extra charge. Meanwhile, I had a one gallon bucket and a two to three gallon waste basket. I let the line empty into the waste basket, and when the waste basket was full—every fifteen to twenty minutes—I let the line empty into the bucket long enough for me to dump the waste basket’s water down the sink.

More than an hour later, the plumber arrived. I explained the problem to him, and since I was paying him to take care of the cut-off valve, I figured I might as well ask him to connect the line to the refrigerator too. He was not the kind of worker who wanted to visit while he worked (or to be watched), so I used the time to study for my Wednesday morning lecture.

After he had taken care of the valve, the plumber told me that he wanted to replace the entire line from the valve to the adapter with copper line. He wanted me that the old plastic line was going to continue to deteriorate, and the next leak might be in the wall instead of under the refrigerator. Of course I agreed. He had the job done in less than an hour. I haven’t checked the price of copper plumbing by the foot, but I can report that my four dollar repair ended up costing me in the ballpark of four hundred dollars.

On the other hand, we have a working ice maker again, and it is fed by copper line that should not disintegrate for many years to come. J.