Plumbing Magic?

What should have been a straightforward job left this plumber puzzled.

It was a sunshine-filled Saturday morning. My son Mason, myself and my wife Azure, were just finishing up our pancake breakfast. “Alright everyone, let’s get washed up and dressed. We don't want to be late for the festival,” Azure said. 

Mason ran down the hallway and began opening and closing all of his dresser drawers, flinging each article of clothing over his left shoulder. 

“No, not this one, this one itches me,” he said to himself. 

“Mason! I hope you’re not throwing all of your clothes on the floor again,” my wife shouted from the kitchen as she was cleaning up the dishes. “Sean, would you mind going in there to help him get dressed, please?” she asked me. 

So I did, and 15 minutes later after much debating and negotiating, we were able to find the perfect outfit for the afternoon. Eventually, we were all set and on our way to the festival. We arrived and got some tasty food in our bellies and some adult cocktails for the wife and me. 

“Ladies and gentlemen, please have all the children begin to make their way to the back of the tent. We are getting ready for the magic show,” a voice from the tent echoed. 

“Magic show? I would love to see this!” I said to myself.


“Mama! Look they have a pool! I want to go swimming,” Mason shouted. 

I tried to convince Mason that we should watch the magic show first and then go swimming, but I didn't have much success. 

“I'll take him, Sean. Why don't you go and watch the show,” Azure said. She could tell I really wanted to see the show by the disappointing look I had on my face. So I quickly went to the keg in the corner and refilled my beer, grabbed popcorn and made my way to the table just off to the right of the stage. 

The show began, and I loved every minute of it. The magician was simply incredible! 

“Okay, ladies and gentlemen, I will need one last volunteer for my final trick,” the magician said. 

Standing next to me was a good friend of mine who yelled out, “Over here! Over here!” as he yelled and pointed to me. 

“Perfect! Come on up here young man!” The magician shouted. I shot my friend a look and made my way up to the stage. “Okay, Mr. McCormack. I need you to do me a favor and hold this empty box in your hands.” He then began to open the box, both front and back, to reveal that it was empty. He repeated this several times and even had me put my arm through the box to show that there nothing was blocking either side. “Now, young man, I need you to hold still and don't let the box drop. Can you do that for me?” he asked. 

I nodded and said, “Yes sir!” 

He then took his magic wand and tapped on the box in my hands three times. Next, he opened the box and there it was, a huge black and white rabbit. He pulled the rabbit out and raised it high in the sky as the crowd erupted in applause.

Well, we all know that in our line of work, there is certainly no magic in waving a screwdriver in the air like a wand. The old boiler is removed and the new one is installed. 

I'm not going to share with you some kind of magic trick here, however, I will share a moment I had on a job that certainly had me thinking some kind of magic was being performed. 

It was a late Friday afternoon when I got a call from a very loyal customer of ours. The call was to replace a solenoid value for their refrigerator. Seems pretty straightforward, right? Not quite. I arrived at the house and made my way into the kitchen to find the refrigerator. I began to pull the appliance out from the wall expecting to see a shutoff behind the fridge, but of course there wasn't! Why would there be, especially on a Friday afternoon! 

So, I went outside and around the back of the house to get into the trap door, which led to the boiler room. I began to descend into the cobweb infested pit and quickly found where the main water supply was entering, which lead to a ball valve. I shut off the first ball valve before the regulator and the meter. “Alrighty, so far so good,” I thought to myself. 

I made my way back into the house and began to undo the piping from behind the refrigerator because they needed an isolation valve for future repairs. Well, as soon I cracked open the 3/8 coupling, I was sprayed with what seemed to be full pressure. I quickly tightened the nut back up and figured maybe I had just back pressure because I forgot to open up a few faucets. So I opened up the kitchen faucet and the same thing happened. Full bore pressure! 

“What is going on here?” I wondered to myself. I made my way back down into the pit to triple check the ball valve I had shut off. “Could the ball valve be faulty?” I thought to myself. 

So just to eliminate that option, I shut the ball valve on the other side of the meter. I checked the kitchen faucet again, and still, full bore pressure. I left the kitchen faucet running and then went to check if the meter was spinning. Sure enough the needle wasn't moving at all! Was it magic? 

“How could this be?” I wondered.

I call on you, my audience, to see if you can figure out this water pressure magic dilemma. We all know that there's no magic in plumbing, but I'm curious to see what my fellow plumbers think happened on that call. Hint: No rabbits were involved! 

Sean McCormack is co-owner of BMC Plumbing and Heating Inc. He can be reached by Email at; Phone 845-596-7770; Twitter @seantheplumber1; and Periscope @seantheplumber. Visit

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