Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Catastrophe overcome

We interrupt our regularly scheduled agricultural and crafts programming with our unscheduled catastrophe. As with so many catastrophes, this one deals with plumbing. I have a well for water supply, with a pressure tank. I had noticed that the pump seemed to come on rather too often. I suspected a leak in the bathroom fixtures (which still may be there) but fortunately I planted potatoes very early this morning. A non sequitur? No. When I went down to the crawl space (can't call it a basement!) to get more potatoes I found water spurting all over the place. Go back up, get the flashlight (beautiful Mag-Lite Led job) and trace the leak. Ah, yes, the concertina type pipe that goes from the hot water heater outlet to the pipe. I do not think this is the correct technical term, but it is descriptive. A concertina pipe is flexible, so it can be bent.

My setup has a severe bend in it (put there, I may add, by a professional plumber) and it broke at the bend. So I shut off the water. All human beings should learn where the master water valve is, even if they don't intend to plumb. I could have called my friendly plumber. That is $140 for the call-out fee, plus a very reasonable labor charge, plus parts. Call it $200. Hmmm. Not a bagatelle. Looking at the thing there are two screwed connections. So I unscrewed them. Off came the concertina pipe.

The next step is, obviously, to buy a new one. Our little hardware store in Willow has, in a Darwinian mode, evolved to meet most bush emergencies. Sure enough, they had a concertina pipe ($13.45). I took it home and bent it into an approximate U-shape. Problem: Concertina pipe 18" (45cm) long. The distance it has to span is more than that. Hence, sharp bends. Murder on copper pipes. So I screwed and unscrewed and bent and rebent. All this in a dark basement, water all over the place, insulation falling down, in all a very Russian environment. KGB plumbing, that's all I need. Eventually, dripping sweat, I got both ends to screw on. To do this I had to do sharp bends. It will go someday.

The obvious remedy is to get a concertina pipe longer than 45cm. A half meter would be a huge improvement and 55 cm even better. Say 20". But in this country there is something called the plumbing code. It dictates things like max length of concertina pipes. I fear that nobody makes 20" concertina pipes. We will see.

I am reminded that plumbing comes from the Latin plumbus, meaning lead. The Romans made their pipes out of lead. Lead is not good for you. But water and waste disposal is a necessity of life. So we must learn to deal with these things, within reason. So far I am $200 ahead of the game. But I still have to overhaul the bathroom faucet washers, and possibly the toilet flapper valve. Stay tuned.

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