Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Bane of All Old House Owners...PART 1

Plumbing!!! Though I’m sure Electrical runs a close second. When we looked at the sidewalk in front of our house on Sunday on our way out, we noticed a puddle of water. I dismissed it thinking that it was just runoff from a late night of watering the lawn (in which I fell asleep during for a few hours). So when we returned at the end of the day, the puddle was now a little spring, and water was now running down the gutter. I opened up the water meter box only to watch the number go whizzing by. Now either someone was taking a shower and doing the laundry while we were out, or we had ourselves a serious leak.


So I go and fill as many pitchers (for drinking) and buckets (for flushing) as I can find before I go and shut off the main. The sun had set and there was nothing to do about it until the morning. After a frantic end-of-Mothers’ Day call to my parents, I coerced them into coming to our rescue.

To The Rescue

As good parents skilled in Home Repair do, they came. All Monday morning we traced down the water line from the box to the house. We dug it up near the house, at the end of the lawn before the slope down to the street, and at the retaining wall at the foot of the stairs. Let me first say this: Digging amidst the ivy is no fun; hacking away at it with an ax, however, is. “Die, ivy! Die!” I kept thinking. The stuff never seems to go away, and it only keeps spreading. You may wonder why I hate ivy so, and I would tell you that rodents make homes in ivy, and transients park empty bottles (broken and half-empty) inside. As an aside, my Father-in-law, likes the ivy, and went to the trouble of purchasing and planting more ivy where we had previously made a bald spot! ...as if it wouldn't grow back on it's own.

In this photo, the pipe is marked by the screwdriver and the line roughlt followed the tape measure, flagged by sticks. A nice long screwdriver makes a good probe, btw. Now I will also admit that I was blaming the lawn crew whom I thought two weeks earlier had nicked the line with their rototill. The pipe is as shallow as 6” under. But as we flagged the pipe along the way, no where else did there seem any evidence of a leak other than close to the main box by the street. Digging out to the pipe elbows at the retaining wall to sidewalk was no fun either and took some time. It was deep and the soil was not only a dense clay, but also packed with softball sized rocks (presumably to protect the water pipe).

Locating the Leak

With the pipe elbows exposed, from the turn up from under the sidewalk to the turns from the retaining wall to the upslope, we turned the water back on. And we waited until the water would show. It appeared inside the box and on the other side of the retaining wall simultaneously (see topmost photo). The leak was somewhere in between the two, which means under the sidewalk on our side of the meter. This is our problem. This is a problem that will have to addressed on the next day as this day was nearly over. But at least we know where it is within 4'. Stay Tuned....because we are STILL without water!!!

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