I am sure everyone has heard the story of the little hero, Hans Brinker, (well everyone in my generation anyway) and how little Has saved the people of Holland by sticking his finger in the leaking dike. (Where was he when New Orleans needed him?)
One thing I learned while researching this post, was that the story was a “made-up” story that is part of the book, The Silver Skates, by American author Mary Mapes Dodge, published in 1865. Regardless, sitting all night long with his finger in the dike—holding back the salty North Sea—-must have resulted in a wicked case of “prune finger.”
If you haven’t read the book, I strongly encourage reading it. It is all about how sometimes the things we are “forced to do” (due to things beyond our control) prepare us more for what we “want to do” than if we had been able to do what we wanted to do all along.
At a recent inspection, I found a wooden plug driven into a hole in the cast iron drain and I got to thinking about poor Hans and how lucky he was that Mary Mapes Dodge wasn’t a plumber. If she had been a plumber poor Hans might have had something less pleasant to stick his finger in. Even so, for Han’s sake, I wish Ms. Dodge knew a little bit more about hypothermia and just how cold the North Sea actually is—–no matter what time of year it is.
I gave the little wooden plug a tug only to have it break off due to its being rotten. I don’t have any idea how the hole got in the pipe to begin with, but I do know that a wooden stick is not the proper fix. It won’t likely be a deal-killer fix for the plumber, but I won’t be playing Hans Brinker until it is fixed.
Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector
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