Saturday, October 17, 2015

Plumbing is for magicians.


Well, winter is almost here.  It can no longer be denied even by those of us who wish differently.  I managed to put off doing any plumbing all summer long.  The real problem is last year I said I would install the frost free outside spigot/hydrant in the front yard.  I had the hole dug and did not do it.  I had to fill the hole with straw to prevent the main house supply from freezing.  I then had to install a cap to the backyard spigot and then apply heat tape and insulation to keep it from freezing. I was again approached by the lovely wife to actually get the two frost free spigots installed this year.  To this end I paid my nephew to dig the back line up and redig the front spigot hole, as it had gotten partially filled in.  This was done by midsummer.  The holes sat there as stark reminders that I should actually do something about them.  I ignored them.  The backyard one is kinda in the way to get to the new deck area.  It is possible to drive the tractor past without actually ending up in the hole.  Wednesday was the day of plumbing.  I had everything I thought I needed already and decided that I would need all day to do this magical task.  I can do a lot of things, and some of them very well but plumbing just seems to elude me.  I have not done a single plumbing task correctly on the first try, EVER!  There is just something about it that I just don't get.  I now plan on simple tasks taking a day or two because nothing is going to go right and I will need to redo the project at least once. 

I wanted to remove this 18 inch section of pipe that actually had a threaded joint and a slip on joint.  I was going to add the hydrant to this section so if there was a problem I would be able to easily replace a small section of pipe and could take it out of the hole to work on.  It sounded like a good plan except I could not screw the pipe joint apart.  It was PVC pipe and it would not unscrew.  I finally resorted to a metal pipe wrench on both parts but still could not get it to unscrew.  I did however notice that I was stressing the joint and wondered if that would come back to haunt me later. I had all the needed parts so I attempted to glue the parts together.  No biggie as I had lots of old cans of PVC glue out in the shed, two from last year.  I tossed out four cans of dessicated and hardened glue.  I had to run to the local hardware store and thankfully they had some PVC glue.  I came back to the house and glued in the T piece and let it sit outside the hole for a few hours.  I then went to replace the backyard hydrant.  I needed to remove a four foot long piece of galvanized metal.  It would not budge!  I tried some WD-40 on the joint but to no avail.  I found a four foot chunk of pipe to slip over the handle of the pipe wrench.  This makes for some serious leverage, but after the few metal things I have broken this summer I went easy on the power and tried more finesse and steady pressure instead of reefing and swearing at it.  The pipe came out and I screwed the hydrant in without any complications.  Five minutes once I had the cheater pipe.  All plumbing jobs should be this easy.  I then went to town that afternoon to get all the PVC parts to do the job one more time.  I had plans to apply water pressure that evening but if there were any complications I would not be able to go to the hardware store and would have to wait.  The $10 was cheap insurance.  That evening I installed the PVC pipe and got it all tightened down and ready to go.  I called my mother-in law to start the pump.  Both our houses are on the same pump and there is no isolation valve so if one of us has a leak we both lose water.  She fired it up and all my joints I added held wonderfully.  It was pure magic, except for the large stream of water shooting out from the old joint I stressed with my large metal pipe wrench.  It had a jet of water leaking by a one inch section.  I had to call and quickly get the water turned off before the hole filled up with water.  I ended up having to dig the hole a little bigger to allow me access with a hack saw to cut the pipe.  I had no simple end to end glue joints.  I glued a hole new section together with parts of the one I just removed and let it dry in the house.


Then I remembered I had not checked on the backyard hydrant.  The entire hole was filled to the top with water!  The main pipe at the bottom of the hole has a 3/4 inch valve and a 90 degree elbow and a reduction joint.  I was not certain where the leak was at.  I am sure my gentle application of pressure with a four foot cheater bar had broken a piece of the 80+ year old pipe buried in the ground.  There was so much water that it was just going to have to wait until morning, plus it was starting to get dark.  I smelled like pipe glue and primer so Annmarie made me go to my mother's house and shower.  Plumbing is always painful, never easy and done twice at a bare minimum.