One Pipe a Bursting

Much like the Twelve Days of Christmas song, we had our own little version yesterday. Three Horns a freezing. Two stray cats. And a water pipe shattered in half. Or something like that. It sounded better in my head.

As I walked outside to take the recycling to the blue trash can a mere 15 feet down the stone path of our backyard, I didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary. Except that my hands and feet and nose all felt like they were going to freeze off from the 17 degree temperatures outside.

The next chore was to take the same path, this time holding the white plastic trash bag which goes in the gray container. I have to remind myself which is which often as there have been many times when the trash was put in blue.

During this same, frozen tundra trek, I heard a noise that sounded like water spewing. I looked to the first few stones, which were now underwater (soon to be under ice at this temperature). As I examined the house for this water dragon playing a fun little trick on me, I looked towards the air conditioner unit towards the fence. That silly water dragon was hosing it down along with the underside of the decking and leaking down the slope toward those same trashcans.

I approached my jolly foe cautiously, so as not to scare my little H20-breathed lizard flyer, when I realized it wasn’t a trick at all. Our water pipe leading to the outside faucet had broken in half.

Frantically I called out to Jessica who was inside, leaving out the fact that I thought it might have been a dragon, and we quickly took action. Thankfully, she knew the water shut off was on the side of the house. So after I handed her one of my last few “man cards” left, I followed her directions to the side of the house and pried open the cover with my bare, icicles of fingers.

The measuring dials were flying around the circles like a clock from Scrooge as one of the ghosts of Davey’s locker past was visiting me. The counter zoomed the numbers upward as my water-soaked dollars flew down the river. I reached in and turned the shutoff valve. It was rusted and nasty, but surprisingly turned with ease. And the dials slowed and the numbers ticked to nothing. No more water.

An immediate call to a plumber who said an extra $200 to come out on a Sunday or they could call us on Tuesday to come out. Another plumber quoted an extra $150 on a Monday after 10 PM appointment (yes, PM). That’s on top of whatever they charge to crawl under a house and fix a broken pipe. I can’t imagine what the bill would be.

So, we discussed our options. A hammer, some coveralls, a pipe-cutter, some towels, a PVC glue kit, a PVC pipe cap, and the replacement of some lattice work. Oh, and not to mention the possibility dying of hypothermia, the deck falling on me, fume inhalation from the glue, or the wife stabbing me after 2 days of no water. It was a frightening proposition all around.

Alas, we made a trip to Home Depot to get the remaining pieces of the above puzzle I needed to make the repair. Well, the temporary fix at least. Not a full on repair until the spring comes back around, I think.

I ripped off the lattice work with the hammer to gain access under the house after I couldn’t fit through the other opening that had ready access. I army crawled my way towards the foundation and used the pipe cutter to make the pipe cut evenly vertical from it’s previously jagged edge. Snip. Crumble. Shatter. Repeat. I nubbed the frozen PVC down to almost nothing before I realized I had better just glue it as is and not worry about getting the cut perfect.

I opened the purple side of the kit, applied the primer, opened the cement side, applied the cement and held the cap on for 30 seconds. It seemed to be sealed. It certainly wasn’t going anywhere, not that I could feel my hands well enough to give it a turn anyways.

Curing these things supposedly takes 2 hours in normal temperatures. We went to bed without water that night and let it cure about 11 hours.

That morning, I nervously approached the water meter again, having earned back half a “man card” for my PVC work, and gently eased the valve back to the “on” position. It worked! Second half of that “man card” earned! Thanks to YouTube and Home Depot, we spent $14.75. Of course, the real challenge will be coming in the spring. Stay tuned…

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