Watering the Plants

Sep 06, 1996

RAY: Our friend Ronnie was asked by his brother to take care of his house while he was on vacation. He said, "I'm going to be gone for a couple of weeks. Go water the plants and make sure no one has broken into the house." And he says, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, don't worry." So his brother takes off for vacation, and he goes over the first day and he checks it out. And while he's there he waters the plants. They look all right. And he's on his way out when he says to himself, oops, a haircut is in need. So he goes to the bathroom and then leaves. He returns to the house about 11 days later to water the plants.

TOM: Which are now dead.

RAY: And he enters the house, waters the plants, and as he's getting ready to leave he hears water running. And he says I wonder where that is coming from. And he finally goes to that bathroom. And, indeed, the toilet has been running all that time. Running for 11 days. And he flicks the handle a few times and, of course, everything is fixed. And, again, he's ready to leave when he notices that there is water on the floor.

TOM: On the floor?

RAY: On the floor. The toilet has been leaking. In fact, he estimated there were several gallons on the floor. But after his examination of the premises, he was unable to determine what was wrong with the toilet. Now his brother calls the plumber, and he determines that there was nothing wrong with the toilet or the plumbing whatsoever. Where did the three-plus gallons of water come from?


RAY: My brother figured this out.

TOM: Well, I actually did, but you had to give me a hint. Because I said "condensation" and you said, "What do you mean? You have condensation on your toilet and you don't have three plus gallons of water on your floor."

RAY: That's when you were stymied.

TOM: No, no, you had to point that out to me and then I said, "Ah ha! Cold water!"

RAY: When the handle is stuck like that, you have a constantly renewed supply of cold water coming into the tank, which serves as a fresh vessel, so to speak (no pun intended) for condensation. Because it was summer and the air in the house was hot, and moisture from the room would continually condense.

TOM: Whereas if you had just filled up the tank and it doesn't keep getting refreshed...

RAY: It would reach equilibrium with the room. And there would be no more condensation, and the few drops of water that had been on it would have fallen on the floor and dried up and disappeared. They would have joined the moisture in the rest of the room. But with the thing stuck and the water going "shurshhhhh"--that tank was icy cold, baby!

TOM: Wow!

RAY: Pretty good, huh?

TOM: Excellent.

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