I unofficially moved in with the parents a year ago. In that time we've had to adjust to the extremely weak water flow coming out of the taps. It would take ten minutes to fill the claw-foot bathtub. If you wanted to wash dishes while somebody had a bath, you had to fill one or the other but not both at the same time. And the washing machine, which took close to an hour to go through a cycle, had to have the water all to itself or nobody got anything.
My kids did the majority of their growing up in town and were spoiled soft by all that powerful water coming out of taps all over our house. After our big basement renovation, we had not one but TWO bathrooms, and get this - one bathroom could be used at the same time as the other!!! The washing machine could run while the shower was on!!!
I never lost my amazement at that.
It never fully occurred to me that maybe, just maybe, there are other people living on farms with two simultaneously functional bathrooms in the house. Or maybe, washing machines that fill in five minutes instead of twenty.
And don't even get me started on rusty water that turns the toilet bowl brown a day after it gets scrubbed. I just assumed that every rural house is like that. I did wonder though if ours is the only farm family avoiding white clothes, because they always turn yellowish brown from the water. Was that normal?
I just sort of didn't think of it. That is, until we moved out here.
Part of what jogged my brain was the sharing of one house. Think about it. Four adults. Two teenagers. One of whom is a girl. Now add slooooow water flow to the equation. The amount of planning needed to get things and people clean has been staggering. I mean, in a way it's good, because planning is a good skill to have. I have had a hard time thinking of that when I've got to wash two loads of clothes, one load of towels, and make sure three other people get their baths before bedtime.
I started to wonder if our house was normal. I mean, I'm not plumber (most of my pants cover my butt) and I sort of knew that town water systems are stronger but... THIS was really getting stupid out here.
My parents started looking at the old water tank and thinking it needed repair. Don't ask me how it worked, but they had to fill it with air to get any pressure at all, and it was needing refilling more often than it should. Jethro was gently pushing to get somebody in to look at it. Last week, a big dude who had to be over 6 ft tall came to our house, squeezed himself into our cellar with its 5'7" ceiling height (and that's after ducking to get under the heating ducts) and did some fixin'. I hunch over down in that cellar and I'm 5'1" and Jethro avoids going there at all.
Mr Pipes the Plumber took many trips out to his van and back under the house again. Hours later, with his hat covered in cobwebs, he emerged from the cellar to tell us what was going on.
He'd changed a few pipes. Apparently they were full of rust. Well that's no surprise, really. He did some soldering and some wrenching and had us turning taps on and off. Thick brownish red water spurted out and splashed all over the sinks. I was in the barn, and he had me turn on the tap out there. The rusty water gushed out hard, but in less than a minute it was clear. And fast.
This big plumber (whose pants fit, yay!) wasn't horrified at all by our ancient cellar. Folks, it is a CELLAR. It is not a basement. In the oldest part of the house, the beams have big axe marks like the beams in the barn. The walls are about 2 ft thick and bumpy from the stones under the plaster. The floor is bricks pressed into clay. If it wasn't so damp and spidery and scary it would be wicked cool! Mr Pipes said he's been in worse. Wha...? Oh yeah. In one cellar, it was floor to ceiling cobwebs with a tunnel back to the pump and breaker panel. You may all collectively shudder now.
He talked to my dad about the well system, which still works, but could be better, and the possibility of getting a new pump someday, which may or may not be necessary since that 35 year old pump could go for another twenty years or crap out in two. He recommended getting our well tested, which Dad and I figured Mom has probably done already but I didn't live here at the time and he doesn't remember. Mr Pipes talked about getting this big filter system to get the rust out. He also told us we likely won't have as big a rust problem now with our spanky new pipes and all. However, rust builds up over time, so...
All I know is, the tub fills up by the time I run upstairs to get my jammies and come back down. The washing machine time has been cut in half. The water coming out of the kitchen sink is so strong I can - get this- get gunk off the plates just by rinsing! I know! Cool!
Seriously, my mother and I have been looking at each other in relief and remarking on how GREAT and EASY and SO MUCH BETTER OUR LIVES ARE NOW.
Mom grew up without any indoor plumbing at all. I think about that a lot. Sometimes I think it didn't really occur to her that the water system here was kind of substandard because she's just pleased to have it in any form. I have moments when I wash my hands and think, "Oh my gosh, hot running water is the best invention EVER." I don't know if that's normal for someone who has not yet reached age 40 in this new millennium of ours, but maybe it should be.
Seriously, good plumbing is like, it's like, it's... wonderful!