On the Job: Plumbers Strike Gold

Bathroom renovation uncovers $50,000 cellphone-size brick under Jacuzzi tub; kitten rescued from sump pump drain pipe.
On the Job: Plumbers Strike Gold
Alif Babul, owner of Perfection Plumbing & Gas in Canada, and apprentice Dean Materi. Photo courtesy Alif Babul.

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Who has $50,000 worth of gold in their bathroom? Better yet, who stashes a one-kilogram bar under their Jacuzzi?

That’s what Alif Babul, owner of Perfection Plumbing & Gas in Canada, and his apprentice of two days, Dean Materi, were wondering after uncovering a cellphone-sized brick while renovating a bathroom in a Calgary home.

They had just ripped out the tub when they spotted something shiny.

At first, Materi thought the shimmery object might be a copper light fixture and was about to toss it in the trash. But when he went to shovel it up, it seemed heavy. That’s when the plumbers realized it was gold.

As per company policy, Babul returned the brick to the owners of the house, who had lost track of its whereabouts.

The plumbers believe the gold bar was placed next to the Jacuzzi and buried by the vibration of the motor.

“Who stores gold bars underneath their tub, right? Kinda crazy,” Babul told CBC Radio-Canada.

Babul says he’s stumbled across many oddities in his 12 years as a plumber, but this easily tops them all.

Pour drainage

Significantly less spectacular was the object Frank DeMara, a journeyman plumber with Reddi Industries in Wichita, Kansas, found lodged in a sewer line.

“The customer had sewage backed up in the basement,” he says. “One of our techs ran a cable machine in the basement and hit a very hard blockage and thought he had found a broken line.”

DeMara took a hammer and began tapping on the line in the basement. That’s when a chunk of cement fell out of the pipe.

“It was like 2.5 pounds, maybe 3 pounds,” he says. “It took up about a foot of pipe that was 2.5 inches in diameter, closing off flow to a 4-inch line.”

When making repairs, DeMara found two holes in the pipe at the foundation wall.

“It looks like the concrete pour just dropped through the pipe and formed up into one big piece of concrete in the line.”

DeMara says this wasn’t the first time he’s found concrete in a pipe.

“Mostly in new construction,” he says.

Here, kitty, kitty

And then there were the plumbers in Austintown, Ohio, who rescued a kitten trapped in a drain line. The 6-month-old kitten had been missing for 10 days when family members heard a noise in the basement.

The cat had crawled into a sump pump and became trapped in a footer drain.

Christopher Graham, an employee of Mr. Rooter in Youngstown, and his co-worker, Joe Kijowski, used an inspection camera to search for the pet, breaking apart the basement floor as they went.

“Once we got the pipe exposed, we cut the pipe open,” Graham told WKBN 27 in Youngstown. “We kept working back by 10-inch increments and finally got at the cat’s tail. … He backed straight out.”

Kijowski told the family there would be no charge for the service.

The female kitten now goes by the name Mr. Rooter.

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