I figured it was time to provide an update on my "the sky is falling" post. I was finally able to clean out all of the debris and poke my head into the attic to determine conclusively what the problem was. It seemed obvious that it was the roof because it had rained the night before and when I looked in the attic the roof was all wet. As it turns out it was not so simple. As I was cleaning up the mess I felt a very subtle mist on my head. When I looked to see where it was coming from I couldn't see anything so I waved my hand around until I felt the mist again. I followed the mist to it's source and low and behold it was the polybutylene plumbing. My heart sank. That is both good news and bad news. The good news is that my roof is OK and it is an easy problem to fix. The bad news is that if I have a leak here then there must be dozens of other potential leaks all getting ready to spring forth. I really should re-plumb the whole house.
After calling my insurance company things went from bad to worse. First of all, I have a $5,000 deductible on my home owners insurance. As it turns out that doesn't really matter. They won't replace the plumbing. They will cover water damage from the leak but I can do that for a few hundred dollars and a couple of weekends. Even if I had a lower deductible it wouldn't make sense to file the claim.
The leak was a very tiny pin hole and the water jet shooting from the pipe was so small that I couldn't see it even if I got close and looked right at it. I could only find it by feeling it on my hand. The confusing part was that the water jet shot straight up and was hitting on the roof leaving a wet spot and that is why I thought the roof was leaking. The leak has probably been going for several weeks but because it is the kids bathroom we never go in there. It just happened that we went in on the very same day the roof came down.
So off I go to Home Depot. Half of my home comes from Home Depot but not this time. They have no fittings to repair polybutylene plumbing more commonly known as Qest plumbing. That is correct, there is no "u" in Qest. I did get a repair kit from Home Depot which they tried telling me would last decades but I didn't believe them. I just hoped it would last until I could find a more permanent solution. It is a silicone tape that you can wrap around the pipe. The tape seals onto itself making a sleeve around the pipe. It didn't stop the leak entirely but it did slow the drip down from about a drop every five seconds to a drop every thirty seconds. I went and looked at it the next morning though and the silicone wrap had swollen up like a balloon. Rather scary actually.
I phoned all over town and finally found a plumbing supply house that carries fittings that look like they may last long enough. Tonight I installed them and so far there are no leaks. I'm a little leery of repairing the bathroom with that old Qest plumbing up there but what choice do I have? I'm not about to re-plumb my house right now and my wife isn't terribly fond of the raised ceiling in the bathroom.
The average American High School student will only work on a math problem for two minutes before they give up and ask for help. A Chinese student will work on it for over an hour.