The value of time

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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.

Steve DeVane
This mentoring program helped me learn to make better use of my time.

4 Responses

  1. Gary McElwain

    Steve that’s a great story, considering I had the same type problem recently.

    Mine was the washing machine that kept leaking. But now it’s water under the bridge.

    Gary McElwain

  2. Steve DeVane

    Thanks, Gary.
    Water under the bridge beats water under the washing machine anytime.

  3. Tim Wade

    Well Steve, you just blew my confidence out of the water (pun intended). I have that leak in one of my bathrooms and have even purchased parts to fix it, not that I have any clue what it is I am doing. I live just up the road from you in Angier. Know of any good plumbers?

  4. Steve DeVane


    Sorry about that. Perhaps you’d have better luck than me. When I try things like this I usually end up all wet (sorry – couldn’t resist).

    Btw, the plumber who came to our rescue is Daryl Padgett. I think he’s based in Dunn. He does good work and I thought the price was reasonable considering he came on short notice the afternoon before the July 4 holiday.

    Thanks for the comment. Good to hear from you, neighbor.


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