Two Wheels - Six Strings

Random news and thoughts about various two-wheeled projects and music, especially my band, Skull Full Of Blues.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Could I Have Some Cheese To Go With My Whine...?

"So," you thought,"what's with the whiny post about how hard life has been for Jon, this past week?'

Well, here's a pretty good-sized piece of that puzzle:

My little house was built in 1935, and it constantly amazes me that it is still standing.  I can only think that it was originally built as a "temporary" structure, which has just survived past where its builders expected.

I've had a bit of a drip on the hot water tap in my kitchen sink, for quite a while, so I decided to fix it, last Sunday.  I had spent the previous three days sick in bed (nice timing, since I had a 4-day weekend), and just felt like I needed to do something constructive.  So, I went down to Ace Hardware and got a new core for the faucet, turned the water off under the sink, and replaced the leaky piece.  When I turned the water back on, I noticed that there a little water-hammer (air in the line compressing and rebounding as the pressure comes back on).

No big deal.  It's pretty common for that to happen if you turn the water back on with the faucet valve closed.

The faucet was no longer leaking, so I celebrated by washing some dishes.  As I washed the dishes, I noticed that I wasn't getting full flow, or pressure, on the hot water.  Could it be that I did something wrong?

I checked the faucet.  It was all put together correctly.  So, I checked the bathroom sink.  It had full flow.  But, the hot water on the tub was also running slow.  I had a sinking feeling, when I saw that.

The way the hot water is plumbed, the bathroom sink is first in line from the hot water heater, then the pipe goes under the house and tees, going to the opposite ends of the house and feeding the kitchen sink on one end, the tub on the other.  I figured that something had happened at that tee, when I saw the water-hammer occur.

I moved the couch and opened the trap door I cut into the floor, a few years ago, so that I could get under the house.  This is what I saw:

 I had a nice little artesian spring washing the soil out from under my foundation.  So, I turned the water off where it enters the hot water heater, and closed the trap door.

My theory was that the tee must have popped loose when the pipe hammered, and I knew that it was probably buried pretty deeply.  So, at 5:00 PM on a Sunday, I didn't think it was a good time to try and fix it.

The pipe is located under the floor of the bathroom (luckily not the part I re-floored).  So, I knew I'd have to cut another hole in the floor to even get to the point where I could start digging.

I spent the week heating water on the stove so that I could take a bath.  I did take a shower at work, one day, just to get the "whole-body" wash.  I was going through some pretty difficult training, at work, and didn't want to get into a project at night, when I had to get up and go to work the next morning.

Yesterday, I got the tools together and started in on it.  I cut a hole in the floor, above where the water was coming up, and started digging.

Here's an example of why I think this house was built as a temporary structure:  The floor joist is a 2x4, with the long side horizontal!  Note the 2x4 support jammed under it to hold it up.

I dug down to the pipe, following the soft wet dirt where water would surface when I turned the water on.  I finally found it, 39 inches below floor-level.  I was really disappointed to see that not only was the leak not at a joint, but it was a hole rusted into galvanized steel pipe.

Had it been copper, I could have cut it and sweated on a sleeve to fix it.  With galvanized, the only real good way to fix it is to replace it.  But, since it was 39 inches down, and probably 20 feet long, pulling the pipe out was not an option.

So, Mark and I went to the hardware store, to see what we could find to fix it.  What we came up with was a repair kit consisting of a clamp and rubber patch to cover the hole.

Bottom's up!

So, into the hole I went, supporting myself with my elbows as I tried to bolt this thing down with both hands busy.  It was...uncomfortable.

All told, I spent about an hour  upside-down, 10 or 15 minutes at a time.  Unfortunately, once the patch was in place, another (smaller) leak showed itself.  So, back to Ace Hardware, for an epoxy/tape patch kit.

After letting the epoxy set, the pipe was still leaking, slightly.

By 9:30 PM, I was done.  I had epoxied the pipe, supported that with the pipe-sealing tape, and clamped over that with two clamps.  And...I still have a tiny little (1/2-gallon/hour?) leak.
At least I can turn the water heater inlet off when I'm not using it, and turn it on to take a shower or wash dishes.  That will have to do until next weekend, when I go to Plan B...

Today, I am sore like I've been hit by a truck, and I'm covered up with scrapes and bruises from lying on the floor, draped over sharp edges with my weight bearing on spots where the skin is thin.

I'm not looking forward to the next time.



At 3:31 PM , Blogger Apertome said...

Man, what a pain (literally)! I'm impressed that you know how to do this stuff, though, I'd be clueless.

At 4:07 PM , Blogger Oldfool said...

Heh, heh life goes on like this for a while then you die.

At 6:16 PM , Blogger Big Oak said...

Oh man, I thought that kind of stuff happened only to me.

You may want to consult a plumber about how to best fix that leak. Also, if the pipe has developed a leak, it might just be a matter of time before it leaks somewhere else. A plumber may be able to give you a good idea about an alternative service entry that's not buried under 3' of dirt.

I've been battling my furnace since September. I think I've won the latest battle. At least I didn't have to insert myself head-down into a tiny hole.

Good luck, I hope you get the leak stopped without too much more effort. I feel your pain.

Those kinds of projects (problems) suck the joy out of life for a while.

At 2:43 PM , Blogger Rat Trap Press said...

I know how you feel, that kind of stuff happens to us all the time, usually at about 5:00 PM on a Friday. Like Apertome said, at least you're pretty handy, I would have had to pay somebody, which makes it doubly painful. I hope you get things worked out.


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