The other day, I was off work and had a little time to catch up on some things that I had been putting off.
One of those things was a small leak behind our toilet. My wife had noticed it a month or so ago, and I had promised to take a look at it.
The leak wasn’t bad, just a drip every once in a while, but it needed to be fixed.
So I crawled down where I could get a good look at it, and discovered the source of the leak at the point where the water line goes into the tank. Perhaps it just needs to be tightened, I thought. So I headed off to get some wrenches out of my toolbox.
I tightened the bolt. The leak got worse.
The more I tightened, the worse it leaked.
I finally turned off the water to keep the bathroom from being flooded. I disconnected the water line, took off the water line and the connection and got ready to go to the hardware store.
Then I remembered that our faucet wasn’t turning off all the way. Might as well fix it, too, I thought. So I took off what I thought was the cause of that problem and headed off to the store.
About an hour later, I returned with the stuff I thought would fix the problem. Only cost about $10.
I attached the new water line to the toilet, then put the new gasket on the faucet.
Turned the water on. The toilet still leaked. I tightened it as much as I dared. Still it leaked.
Worse news at the faucet. It was running even though it was supposed to be off. I turned it on and the knob came off in my hand and water spewed out all over the place.
I ran to the road, turned off the water and told my wife we’d have to call a plumber.
Fortunately, the plumber said he could be at the house in about an hour. When he arrived, I explained the problem.
Took him about 30 seconds to fix the toilet. He just tightened it more.
The faucet was a little trickier. He had some trouble getting it disassembled, but in the end all it needed was a little spring and a gasket – just not the gasket I had gotten at the store.
That made me feel a little better. Had I persisted, I would have spent the better part of the day on it and likely would not have figured out that all it needed was the spring and gasket. I would probably would have bought a whole new faucet assembly.
All in all, the plumber was well worth the $75 he charged us. He knew what he was doing. I didn’t.
What lesson did I learn? Time has value.
I spent about three hours and $10 and made both situations worse. For $75, the plumber fixed the problems in less than an hour, and the only time I needed to spend was about two minutes to explain the issues.
So, even if I’d have fixed the problems, which I didn’t, my time was worth somewhere around $22 an hour. In this instance, $22 an hour of inexperience was worth far less than $75 an hour of expertise.
This mentoring program helped me learn to make better use of my time.