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This Old Crack House

From log house to farmhouse. Farmhouse to townhouse. Townhouse to apartment house. Apartment house to crack house. Crack house to our house. Our house to our home.

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Friday, July 20, 2007

If at First You Don't succeed.....

Use a bigger hammer!

When asked, I describe myself as a ten of all trades. Not good enough to be a Jack. This is true for my plumbing skills. Especially when I am using 1" copper pipe. I'm sure you are aware of the saga of my basement plumbing. If not then just let me say the pipes froze over winter ( for the 3rd time) all the way back to the shut off valve. Even after I had drained them. I dreaded the day that the water would be turned on because I knew what would happen. When the meter was installed this week and the water was turned on there appeared to be no leaks before the shut off valve. The moment I went to the basement to check my pipes and walked up to the spot where the water line enters the house I heard a Pfft and then a pssssss as a thin stream of water jetted at one of the walls. After several trips to the street to turn the water off at the meter I was able to reduce this to a drip every 5 minutes, which I can live with because it should seal itself with scale build up in a few days. Next was to open the valve and allow water to pass about 10 inches to the 2nd shut off valve which was installed after a boiler drain. "Pftt! Psssss!" one leak. So I say to myself "OK. Lets get this over with." Then the big moment. Water to the rest of the basement and the first floor. I open the 2nd valve. "Pfft! Pfft! Pfft! Pssssssss!" Three more leaks. Which isn't really bad since I had to solder 33 joints before the hot water heater. I guess I'm 88% efficient, which is better than some appliances I own. To date I have reduced the four leaks down to two stubborn ones that may require me to replace the joints because it will be faster than sitting for 20 minutes melting solder over them. Now many people might say "Thats no big deal" but this is 1 inch pipe and one spot near the shut off retains a small amount of water. This means it takes 20 minutes to get the joint hot enough to just melt solder in one spot yet alone the entire joint. The spot where it leaks is against the wall and I can't get the blow torch to it! It will be easier to cut the pipe and fix this in a vice, then solder two coupling seams when putting the pipe back. I hope after a trip or five to Lowes for the correct plumbing parts I should have this fixed by tonight AND we will have hot water for the first time in 6 years! I really doubt thats going to happen though. Then I get to open the valves to the upper floors. Oh Joyous day!

Next I get to tell you about lining chimneys and how much fun that is!


At 7/20/2007 11:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Gary-

I suspect from reading your recent plumbing post that you may be using a propane torch instead of a mapp gas torch. The mapp gas comes in the yellow bottle and burns hotter. It should save you some time, and allow for better solder joints....

Good luck

At 7/20/2007 1:32 PM, Blogger Gary said...

No, I'm using Mapp Gas. I even bought an extra canister. When I cut the pipes this morning a bunch of water came out. They aren't draining completely. I fixed what I could with what I had and now I am off to Lowes for the parts I need. I hope I can do it in ONE trip!

At 8/03/2007 12:01 PM, Blogger Marc said...

Perhaps it's time to bite the copper bullet and replumb with PEX. We did this--actually hired a pro--just recently in our 1830's house. I highly recommend it. The final straw for me was when I replaced a toilet last year--cracked a connection inside a plaster wall, caused a slow leak, and the wall downstairs was ruined over the next several months. PEX is easy to run and less expensive than copper. And it's easier to cusomize: we added a hot water recirculator on a timer, so the guests don't have to wait 2 minutes for hot water. And Pex doesn't split when frozen--a big plus for you!


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