Dad gave me his plumbing toolbox because he no longer needed it. That plumbing toolbox could probably tell many stories if it could talk. In some ways, this beautiful well-used toolbox is a metaphor for the way things were years ago. It indicates chapters in the life of a man that lived through eras like the Great Depression, World War II, and other things life threw at him. Imagine the wisdom and knowledge that dad gained living through his 91 years.

Dad’s plumbing toolbox was previously a broken old tackle box and was evidently “too good to throw away”. He replaced the broken latch with a heavy hasp and a quick snap hook to keep the toolbox closed. The faded green tool box had hammered out dents and scratches that were touched up with gold paint to keep it from rusting. It probably would not sell at a garage sale, but to me, it’s a priceless relic that whispers advice.

Dad was a talented “jack of all trades”. Seldom did mom and dad have any service work done in their home because dad did it all. His projects turned out extremely well.

Time passes on and things change. It was time for that plumbing toolbox to be gone, but my parents’ needs have changed very little. They still love their home, so our common goal has been to keep them in it until they are ready for a change. It’s OK to reach a point in life where we rely on others more. It’s my turn to make sure their plumbing, heating, and air conditioning needs are handled well and they can concentrate on other things.

There are many reasons to hand over our “toolboxes”. A lack of time may be a reason. Another good reason is in knowing others can do the work better, more safely, and quicker.

Plumbing is a great example of a trade that can be risky if done improperly. It can cause health issues or death from things like the SARS virus that killed 774 people during the 2003 outbreak and made 8,098 sick.

Improper plumbing installations can also cause fires and property damage. One fire hazard I saw was PVC piping installed as a flue vent on a water heater. The piping had melted. The scariest repairs are the ones accomplished by the “creative” do-it-yourselfers that try to invent new ways to make repairs to save money.

Another nightmare I’ve seen was a natural gas water heater in the basement of a duplex that had no flue vent whatsoever. The tenants could easily have died from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Then there was the handyman that reduced a 2” PVC shower drain down to 1” PVC pipe for some reason; maybe it was to reduce costs by a few dollars. The shower flooded the room which had multiple other problems. The homeowner sued the handyman who of course had no insurance to cover this improper installation or money to reimburse the homeowner. The handyman walked away.

One creative do-it-yourselfer mixed black iron pipe and fittings with copper pipe and fittings when they hooked up water heater water piping. The water flowed through the piping for a short time until rust plugged things up.

Another service call resulted after a wife was tired of her husband working 3 days on the installation of a water heater and could not get the copper solder joints to quit leaking. It did little for their marriage. I fixed the leaks in 20 minutes and turned the water back on.

One homeowner had dumped multiple bottles of drain cleaner in a backed-up kitchen sink with the hope it would clear the plugged drain like it quickly does on TV. A side note is drain cleaners seldom work. Another important note is please tell the plumber you used drain cleaner. The drain cleaner felt kind of slick until the burning sensation kicked in!

I’ve seen many repairs through the years where it would have been better if the “plumbing toolbox” had been handed off and a qualified serviceman did the job.

Dad also gave me his tackle box. It’s in “too good of shape.” I interpret that as another life lesson of “do less service work and take more time to fish.” If all goes well I will go through a lot more tackle boxes before it’s time to give them away.

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