Sunday, July 13, 2014

Leaky Pipes

The cold water supply pipe sprung a leak Friday. I immediately bought one of those pipe wrap clamps to stop the leak. Everyone with old galvanized pipe should have one or two of these in their emergency tools/parts.


The following day I bought the necessary fittings and pipe to fix the leak and re-plumb the entire cold water plumbing.  As I started working, gathering supplies and tools Toly (age 7) asked Whatcha? I asked him if he wanted to help. He gleefully said sure.

Crawling under our house is not as bad as some crawl spaces I have been in. Working on hands and knees makes for slow grueling work. Toly was instrumental in helping gather, transport tools and supplies to the further reaches of the crawl space. I explained exactly what we were doing and he really really helped. I had him trace the cold line and put tape on all the cold pipes as a marker. We didn't want to cut any of the hot water supply lines or, God forbid, any of the gas lines. It is a tangled mess of pipe doubling back and forth of hot, cold and gas lines. Together we sized up the entire cold supply to all the fixtures in the baths, kitchen, utility/laundry room, outside spigots and water heater supply. We formed a plan to logically and efficiently re-route all the cold water plumbing.

We did as much prep work as possible while the dishwasher and laundry machine finished their cycles. When it came time to start cutting on the pipe we needed buckets to catch the residual water. Toly scampered from under the house and retrieved some buckets. Water still got everywhere regardless of our efforts to the contrary. Luckily the entire crawl-space is covered in billboard tarp. Otherwise we would have been more than soggy. We would have been covered in mud and watery filth.

I showed Toly how to clean pipe and fittings. I taught him the different sizes that we were using and the different names for the fittings. We referenced shapes and angles from his everyday life. He really paid attention and I could see several leaps in understanding in his brain as they occurred. We were under there for a few hours my knees were killing me and my legs were cramping. He had been helping all this time without any promise of reward or special favor.

As I rested in a dryish spot I explained to him how helpful he was being to me and that the deserves a special treat. He is still undecided what it will be as yet. After we cleaned, fluxed and fit together the pipe we braced it  and I showed Toly how to solder the fittings together. Melting metal fascinated him. The tiny droplets of excessive solder were an especially big hit. We used a few sharkbite fittings in places were it is impossible to safely use a torch. Sharkbite fittings are way too expensive to use everywhere but sometimes necessary.

Here is some of the pipe that we removed we left an entire abandoned 50 foot section attached to the rafters because it can wait until next time.


 It feels so good to have re-plumbed all the cold supply lines in copper. No more drinking water from old galvanized pipe. A major leap forward in making our home "RIGHT"

The next step will be to replace all the hot water pipe. Even though there are fewer hot water fixtures re-plumbing the hot water pipe will be at least equally as complicated because I want to install a recirculating loop to the water heater so that we don't continue to waste water while waiting for it to get hot.
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