What a field day for the heat
A thousand people in the street
Singing songs and carrying signs
Mostly saying, "hooray for our side"

Saturday, June 6, 2009

That's a way to spend the day

So, I had big plans for the day. I got up early (for a weekend) to get ahead of the curve.

But as you know, the universe has other plans. We have an outdoor (frost free) spigot in the garage and it decided it was going to leak. So we went out to find water on the garage floor and the strip of carpet we use in front of the door (so when we go out into the garage in the winter our little toe-sies don't freeze) was soaked. There went the day.

Now, it's done this before. Sometime when we use it a little grit gets in the valve and prevents it from closing. That wasn't the case this time. It seems that yesterday somebody banged into it. So I'm thinking cracked pipe or something in the stem. I did a quick google search and basically the way to repair the stem is to replace the whole damn spigot. Which means cutting and sweeting pipe. I've avoided that until now, but I guess I'll learn today.

Then I try to open the wall to see what I'm dealing with. The wall on the inside of the house is both wall-boarded over and behind the furnace. There's no room to even crawl back there. That means opening up the front side of the wall. Fortunately it's inside the garage, so it's not like I'm going to have an outside hole in the house.

I try my utility knife. No good. Then I try a wall-board saw. And I have trouble. After about half an hour with a funky stud sensor (yeah, I should get a better one now), I discover that most of the wall has wood behind it in weird places. I open up a few holes and discover I can't get close to the spigot line. Fortunately there's no water behind the wall.

That's when I realize I need professional help. Now this is the fourth time I've need plumbing help, and I've never gotten a recommendation form anybody I've asked. I must have rephrased my question because this time I get a recommendation, and a highly recommended recommendation. For somebody half and hour away. And someone who is very, very busy (which is a good sign). So I get on the waiting list (hopefully sometime this week is his expectation, but no promises), and the good advice about getting a hose cap to block off the leak.

What's left of the day includes cleaning the garage out, removing the wet stuff, mowing the lawn before the neighbor's party get too crowded (sorry Mike, I was going to get it done beforehand), and some small stuff. I needed to level the air-conditioner, which I didn't get done the way I planned, but it's stable and should be good until I can figure out how to do it properly (just a hint, even if they installer says, "Oh, no, you don't need to prepare a base, we've got this plastic thing that's work just a well," don't believe them. Prepare the site first, which I was going to do, but the installer convinced me not to, bastard). I reconditioned the stone base around the ramp to the shed. Experimented with the breaker bar to see if what I planned would work (yes it will, but since the party was still going on I didn't want to make all that noise). And then go through the food stores in the garage and get rid of what's beyond expiration. Well, Bette did that part. I helped with the compositing. Oh yeah, I also turned the compost piles.

After all that we didn't want to cook so we took the recycling out to the bins and had chinese in Middlefield.

Hopefully your day went better.


Jim Wright said...

I just had to replace an outside spigot that froze this winter, despite being an "Arctic" exterior fitting (something about -40 Alaskan winters). Fortunately for me the spigot in question is fed from a 5/8" pipe in the basement, so I had easy access. I dispensed with the whole arctic so-called "freeze proof" spigot and instead installed a shutoff valve 4 feet above a standard spigot, inside the house. This shut off valve has a vent. Next winter I'll close the valve, open the spigot and the vent and drain the bottom 4' of the feed line. That way there will be nothing to freeze. While I was at it I did the other three exterior spigots the same way. I used compression fitting, so if I ever have to replace the spigot I only have to sweat the bottom two elbows and the spigot itself (I.e. clean new copper, not the wet line which is a major pain the ass).

Some advice, Steve, if you sweat pipe, use MAPP gas (the yellow tank, vice the blue one) in your torch. Burns hotter and works a hell of a lot better. Use a good lead free solder, and new white paste flux. Don't try to sweat pipe that is wet inside, it will not work. If you must attach to pipe that you can't get dry (the existing feed line for example), use a compression fitting instead of trying to sweat a solder joint.

Anonymous said...

It always seems so simple: just open up a small hole or pull off that one shingle or etc. etc.

Next thing I know, burning down the house seems a cheaper alternative.

Steve Buchheit said...

Thanks Jim. I'll keep than in mind for when I do end up sweating pipe. I should take a picture of this. I couldn't get to the pipe to even make a change. Sure, I've got a reciprocating saw and could have gone through the cross 2x4 wood between the studs. But with where I would have to sweat pipe, it'll be close quarters and would require a flame shield. Since it involves structural (wall is a supporting wall) and fine (tight space) work, I'm willing to hire a pro to do it.

I can't get anywhere near the spigot open. I can feel a copper pipe back there (in the insulation), but it's 2", so I'm pretty sure that isn't for the spigot. Whoever did this had some wacked-out vision of plumbing. My guess is that they have the water going up to the second floor before an octopus connection to feed all the outlets, bringing the line to the spigot down from the ceiling (considering the main interior shutoff valve is less than four feet away diagonally, it seems strange that the plumber didn't come up from there).

And compression joints. Damn, I keep forgetting about them.

Steve Buchheit said...

Yeah, Todd, I started thinking, "Well, all I need to do is cut the nails to that cross piece and drop it out." And then I realize that right above this is the steel beam that forms the support of the second floor. So that part of the wall, at least, is structural. All I need to go is start cutting through things to have the beam sag of me.