Is there a plumber available?

Thu, 09/23/2021 - 2:45pm

What do you do when your water or sewer bill seems high? Most folks assume they have a leak somewhere, and call a plumber.
That’s not so easy on Block Island these days.
The Water and Sewer Commissions met for their monthly meeting on Monday, and had an interesting case before them. A longtime residential customer had seen the bill more than triple during the months of April to August this year, and has had a very difficult time
resolving the issue.
When the bill jumped from the average of $110 to $182 in April, the customer called in the last remaining local plumber, who found
a leak in the basement. It was a “pinhole” leak caused by copper sulfate in the old pipes.
The plumber was unable to work on the leak, however, as he was overwhelmed with other projects. He referred the customers to a local steamfitter’s helper, who was unable to patch the pipe. The owners eventually found an off-island plumber who was able to fix the leak by mid- May.
But when the bill was $494 in May, the customer called the water company, and Water Superintendent John Breunig came to take a look. He found a toilet and shower leaking in an upstairs apartment on the property. The homeowners have a couple of apartments that they were renting to school employees, who had not alerted anyone to the leaking toilet or shower, according to the homeowner.
With no plumber available, a friend of the owners changed the toilet flapper, while the homeowners tried to find a plumber to repair the shower. Two different off-island plumbers working on the island were unable to find time to look at the shower while they were here, and neither was able to come back to the island to address the issue.
The June bill came in at $831. A handyman was found through Island Hardware, who was able to repair the shower leak. When the bill
for July was $632, the homeowners called Breunig at the water company, who came and checked the house again. He found that the toilet was still leaking, and that the second upstairs toilet was also leaking, and that another water pipe had developed a leak.
The handyman returned and repaired the leaks, and as he is unlicensed, Breunig came out one more time to check the work. He gave the house a “clean bill of health as
of July 26.”
All together, the leaks have cost over $2000 in repair bills for the homeowner, not to mention the bills from the water and sewer, which are well over $2000. Old houses sometimes need plumbers to correctly diagnose and fix problems. Unfortunately for these and other
homeowners on the island, Block Island plumbers seem to be few and far between.