“Fair game!” the plumber must have said to himself when I opened the door. “She’s older. She doesn’t know crap. I can price high.” 

What is it with some guys? We women know that it’s a good idea to take along a man when shopping for a car because some salesmen seem to have abandoned all sense of shame when dealing with women. This plumber was a doozy.

I showed him the laundry room with the terrible smell and the wet rug. The washing machine hoses were fine. “The wet floor is probably capillary action from a leak under the house,” he said and went outside to inspect the water meter. He came back and told me that the it was slowly spinning, indicating a leak in the underground pipes. Oh, my god, I thought. Underground pipes?! What’s that going to cost?

Then, he noticed that a large plastic container of water on the floor had sprung a leak which  had  caused the water to spread on the floor. No capillary-action-leaky-pipes under there.

“But, the meter is still spinning,” he said. “There’s has to be a leak down below the house somewhere.”  

“What?!  How can that be? This place was built in 2008! Take me outside and show me this meter.”

I got on my hands and knees and peered way down into the hole in the ground. After watching the tiny dial for a long time, I could see that, yes, indeed, it was turning very, very slowly.

We went back inside and sat at my kitchen table. He said, “You’ll have to hire an outside company. They will find the leak underground within a foot. We will then come back and…” He went on to outline how he would tear up the floors and walls and replace all the pipes to the tune of $6,988.00 which would not include restoration.  

“What?!” My heart sped up way faster than the water meter’s.

“With a lifetime guarantee, though.”

“Wait a minute. Hold on. That dial is spinning so very slowly. Maybe there’s a leak in the toilet in the guest room. Someone said that it was making a little noise when they stayed here. Could that be it?”

We went to that bathroom and looked. He said if he replaced the filler valve and the flapper that maybe, just maybe that would solve the problem. “That’ll be $264.”

Are you kidding me?  For just that? “No thanks,” I said. “I’ll look over everything and think about it.”

He left.

I went back to the bathroom, turned off the water supply to the toilet, and went out to see if that would stop the spinning meter dial.

It did.  

Then, I went to the hardware store, bought a Fluidmaster fill valve and a flapper, came home, and watched a Youtube video on how to put it in the toilet. It was instructive, but hilarious in its lack of production values. The picture was so dark, I could hardly see it. Children cried in the background and dogs nosed around the plumber for attention. His phone rang, so he had to reach in his pocked to turn it off. At one point his body blocked the camera, so I couldn’t see a crucial step. But, between that and the printed instructions, I was able to  do it myself. 

Cost: under $18. 

Can someone explain why my plumber didn’t just turn off the water to the toilet and check the meter again as I did? Such a simple way to test it, eh?  He couldn’t have been that dumb, but he must have thought I was.