Monday, September 24, 2012


I like water features as much as the next person...just not a geyser in the middle of the kitchen.

Poor Doug has been battling the pipes at the beach cottage for a few weeks now.  He started out trying to work with what we had, but he quickly realized that like so many other things about this little place, what we had wasn't going to get him where he needed to go.  The pipes had frozen at one time, and he explained to me that when copper pipe freezes, it expands but doesn't contract--it just stays expanded.  Not good when you're trying to work with standard size fittings.

So he consulted with his good buddy Martin and decided to use a product called PEX, a type of plastic tubing that's pretty flexible.

Here is Doug with his first order of PEX:

But it was far from his last.

Every day, he either went to Home Depot or placed an online order with PEX or McMaster Carr.  Sometimes, it was all three.  By the end of last week, I think the UPS man could have walked up our sidewalk blindfolded.

What emerged from all of this activity was a couple of cute boards with little plumbing things neatly attached. Doug referred to these creations as manifolds, which I thought was something you found only under the hood of a car.

Anyway, this is what it looked like when he installed it:

Unfortunately, plumbing is not a team sport, so all I could do while he was working on this was hang out and keep my fingers crossed. My poor husband had been losing sleep over this part of the project for weeks.  If it leaked, I was worried about his sanity.

Uh-oh, the first test, and we had leaks.  I persuaded him that it was time for a lunch break.

But all good lunches come to an end, and it was soon time for him to go back .... and redo each of the connections. One at a time.....

The first two went well.

Time for the third one.

I was sitting on the futon in the dining area, leafing through a Vintage Style magazine, when all of a sudden I heard water hitting the floor.  And I'm not taking about drips here. I'm talking about a lot of water. I looked up and Doug literally had a fountain spurting a couple of feet into the air.

He scrambled for the shut-off valve, and I raced for towels and old sheets.

But by 2:00, all was well. The braided rug was draped on a paper towel box to dry out, and all the leaks were fixed. Here is Doug with a half-smile/half-grimace celebrating his victory over the PEX and pipe fittings:

And here is the plumbing safely encased by the stand Doug built for our vintage sink, which is to be installed later this week with the help of his son Corey:

We do have one more pipe in the kitchen, which is completely useless but stands as a reminder of the cottage's earlier days.

The pipe in the photo below was hidden behind the old formica wall.  We discovered it, all dirty and corroded, when we demolished the kitchen.  Doug planned to enclose it in bead board, but I thought it had a kind of cool industrial look. So I painted it black, and Doug clamped it tight with a plastic clamp that I painted with metallic spray paint:

I had my share of pipe troubles too.

This pipe hangs really close to the bead board, so I taped it off with Frog tape while I painted the bead board. Then I removed the tape and shoved cardboard behind the pipe so I could spray paint it.  That worked pretty well, but I managed to get some black on the bead board. To make a long story short, I had to touch up the bead board AND the pipe at least about three times each.

But I think it looks neat.

Kind of "beach cottage marries industrial."


  1. Wow! I commend your husband for doing all the work! It sure is very handy to have plumbing skills, as it would make you cost-efficient homeowners. :) Also, have your sewer system cleaned and maintained to prevent damage. Have it checked by professionals to ensure its good condition and to prevent you from being caught off-guard.

    Althea Tumlin

  2. Luckily, our place is in an area with municipal sewers and water! But, yes, I am thrilled that he was able to do all that work himself! He saved us a bundle of money for sure...

  3. Plumbing palooza! LOL! Good thing you had your hubby to save you money from repairs like that! You got a great combination in him – he’s smart, persistent, and sweet! Hehe! You're very lucky to have him! :)

  4. It’s a good thing that you used PEX piping because that’s actually one of the best types of piping materials for a waterline. Good to know your husband installed the PEX pipes perfectly! He seemed quite determined to install them despite his previous installation leaking frequently. Kudos to him!