Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Cultured Marble Catastrophy

As it turned out, even replacement of a cultural marble counter is an enormous ordeal. Doing this from two states away is a catastrophy.

The only place where I even managed to get someone on the phone was, curiously enough, the most well known cultural marble dealer in the neighbourhood: Kelly's Showroom. They are a little on the pricier side, asking $900 for the piece which Marble Palace was selling for $700. But their guy, Ron, was helpful, and they were willing to do the work on the removal of the old counter, which is important. Discarding things is not trivial these days.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Fire in Tracy on July 6

Chizumatic has posted a picture of fires taken from Forest Service remote monitoring, which shows a pretty decent conflagation in Tracy:

Tracy Fire Map

I checked with Tracy Press, but there was nothing except a the house fire, but it does not look big enough to register on the IR satellite which Forest Service uses. Curious, what has happened?

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Meanwhile, in Tracy...

I had a disappointing run-in with Greer Family Plumbing. I wanted to replace faucets before renting the house out, but since the valves and their one-piece corrugated (flexible) pipe are rather frail, I decided to ask a professional who could deal with the fallout if something does not work. You would think that a plumber taking 3 times as much as a handyman for the same job would be ready for the unforseen... How naive.

When Jeff (the senior worker) replaced the faucets, he also replaced the drain parts. And they he tore down one set, he found a crack in the sink itself, which is impossible to seal. His theory was that calcium deposits sealed the crack until now. I was dubious, but it was not a good time to assign blame, so I asked for options. Long story short, nobody would fix this, and the WHOLE COUNTER WITH TWO SINKS has to be replaced. You think my renters would be happy while that is happening?

Just for the record, Jeff's wife found a random place which dealt with the cultured marble (Elegant Surfaces), but they only repair what they installed themselves. So I suppose Greer cleared their conscience. Not that it helped me any.

One small anecdote deals with one of palliatives that we tried, and highlights nicely how the incentives for Jeff were stacked to leave me hanging and move on as soon as possible. The last thing we tried was putting silicone sealant on the inside of a stack of two gaskets. I asked him how he supposes the silicone would stick to wet surfaces (they became wet because during testing). He replied that he dried them up. Funny, I didn't recall him using a hair dryer. Sure enough, when I looked at the gasket sandwich later, it was wet with the seeping water.

The lessons are multiply, and the major is, DO NOT, under any circumstances, repair anything in a house you're vacating -- the price of making it worse is huge. Finding anyone dealing in cultured marble over the phone from two states away is just one thing I have to deal with now. And secondly, exorbitant fees that plumbers charge are utterly unnecessary unless there's an emergency (I exchanged $375 for the broken bathroom). Just call your handyman, results are going to be the same.

By the way, I think Greer would be excellent for things like burst pipes, just not my case. They were pleasantly accomodating when scheduling the job.