Doesn’t it always work like this?

Sunday morning, a neighbor down the block called the fire department for what was apparently a minor fire. I saw FDNY parked down the street as I returned from walking the dogs. One of the firefighters was flushing out the hydrant as another rolled up the hose. They weren’t there long.

The water pipes in the street here are very old and they also supply those hydrants. Whenever one of those hydrants gets flushed the houses on the block get brown water for hours afterward. I don’t mean rusty looking water. There are literally flakes of rust and (for lack of a better term) quasi-organic spooge floating in the water — stuff you definitely don’t want to swallow. That’s why most of the houses here have water filters.

It was a hot morning and the dogs were dehydrated so I used the sink’s filtered water dispenser to fill their bowl. But the sediment was so heavy that morning that the water was down to a trickle before the bowl was half full. I was way overdue for a filter change.

Back in 2000, I bought this dual cartridge water filter unit, an OmniFilter OT32, from Home Depot. The last time I stocked up on filters was probably 2005. Bottom line, HD no longer carries OmniFilter. Neither does Lowes nor the local plumbing supplier. This market appears to be owned by GE and Whirlpool now.

I bought a couple of filters that looked the same but when I installed them I got a Bellagio water show under the sink.

So I took the filters back and bought a pair of GE filters. Same results: an in-cabinet water park.

I gave the gaskets a quick check and they looked okay. Anyway, in my snorting and cursing efforts to finish this simple homeowner task, I caused a leak in the ‘T’ fitting that feeds the ice dispenser on my refrigerator. Fortunately I had a replacement fitting for that — and at last I managed to actually fix something. But then it was back to the issue of the incompatible water filters.

I couldn’t see any alternative. If I couldn’t buy water filters for the unit I had, I would need to replace the unit itself. So I bought a brand new water filtration unit, a GE, for $120. Water definitely ain’t free.

But right out of the box I knew I had problems. First, the fitting for the water supply is designed to fit between the cold water supply and the fixture shut off valve. In other words, there is no dedicated water shut-off for the filter. How cheap ‘n cheezy is that? Every time I needed to change the filters I would have to shut off the house supply. This is the kind of box store price cutting that annoys the hell out of me. Someday I’ll write about the bag of 100 BX connectors I got from a Home Depot which had set screws about 1/8″ too short to get a decent bite on the cable.

Second, it was all Pex tubing. Somehow, I would have to find a way to tap my refrigerator’s copper water feed into it. But NYC’s plumbing code hasn’t even caught up to the 1970s yet so finding a Pex->copper fitting was going to be a tedious quest.

Before ripping it out, I decided to take one last try at the old filter unit, beginning with a closer inspection of the containers for a possible crack. Under bright light I saw what the problem was. A thin, recessed gasket had rolled over on itself. I fixed it, installed a new filter, snugged up the shell… presto. No leaks.

Total time to replace filters 5 minutes Cost of filters $29
Total time wasted on bullshit 6 hours Total additional cash outlay $150



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Welcome to Brooklyn Row House

This blog is about the challenges of renovating an old (1903) Brooklyn, New York row house.

My last major renovation project was the master bedroom, most of which is about finish carpentry. You’ll find other completed home improvement projects in the Projects submenu at the top of this page.

I’m not a professional builder and don’t pretend to be. I’m just an experienced amateur raised in a family of committed DIYers. I try to closely follow local and national building codes but don’t mistake anything on this site to be professional or even accurate advice! Your mileage may and definitely will vary.

This is the third iteration of, from scratch-built to Drupal and now Wordpress. I hope you enjoy your time here.