The Water Closet Misadventure

Date posted: 
Friday, January 20, 2017 - 11:15
Blog poster: 
Ken Runkle, REHS/RS
Email of Blog Poster: 


It was a cool, crisp November morning in 1996 when we set out to sample water wells in a rural subdivision potentially impacted by a leaking underground pipeline. Previously, we had sent out letters to inform the area households of the situation and to ask for their permission and cooperation in sampling their wells. Most responded positively, and we followed up with phone calls to schedule the sampling visits and to let them know our need to collect a sample upstream of any water treatment units that may exist in their homes.

At the first home on our list that morning, Mrs. Smith greeted us at the door and directed us to a small closet that contained a water softener and a hot water heater. She explained that her husband had told her to tell us that the shut off valve was on the wall near the floor and that we could access the water line by unscrewing a connector upstream from the softener.

I entered the closet with a trusty crescent wrench and the water sample tubes. Being thinner in those days, I had little trouble sliding behind the water heater and softener, where I turned the value to “off” and began to loosen the nut to access the water. On the second turn, cold water came spraying out full force. As the wrench dropped from my hand, I realized there was no escape since I was wedged between the tanks and the wall. By the time I picked up the wrench and tightened the nut (my first instinct), I was soaked to the skin.

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Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect the policy, endorsement, or action of NEHA or the organization where the author is employed. NEHA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.  

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