Thursday, August 21, 2014

Water Leak

We have known for some months that we had a leak in our water line. Every month our water bill had a big blue stamp across it saying, "Customer Leak Detected". We even knew where it probably was, since there was always a muddy patch up near the front gate.

So with nothing else better to do (I say jokingly), Guv'nor decided he'd tackle the leak by himself. This was yet again a time when we wished we had a few young farm hands to help out.

He decided he'd work on it, as it happens, on the morning that Daughter and I were out delivering Meals on Wheels. He had collected all the tools and parts he needed and thought he would be able to repair it while we were gone. So the water was off when we got home and he was out in the field. We thought, no problem, we can manage without water for a few minutes.

Little did we know.

Guv'nor had managed to dig a hole and find the leak. He managed to cut out the joint that was cracked and leaking. He even managed to fit the new section in place. But every time (and there were several times) he turned the water back on, the pressure on the line caused the new joint to "explode" (Guv'nor's words).

Fast forward a few hours, a few explosions, and a few trips to the hardware store. I'll spare you the gory details.

As it was getting dark, Neighbor came over to see if he could help. So they went again (third time's the charm) to town to get yet another part. And in the dark, with Daughter holding flashlights, Guv'nor fit the newest joint with all hopefulness that this one would work.

Sadly, it blew as well, and we were without water for awhile longer.

Thankfully, I had a few gallons of water stored up for such times as this. And even more thankfully, Neighbors had kindly offered to let Guv'nor shower over at their place, otherwise I'm not sure what he would have done. So we managed through the night.

Guv'nor was up early the next morning and made another trip to town -  different hardware store, different part - and very thankful that it was a big enough part to hold under the water pressure. So by midday (a little over 24 hours), the water was back on.

Here are a few things we learned:
  1. Fill up sinks, tubs, buckets, jugs, bottles before turning off the water.
  2. You use a lot more water than you think you do. One gallon per person per day is the bare minimum.
  3. Store extra water containers for emergencies. One gallon milk bottles work well. Don't forget to store extra water for animals.
  4. Water is heavy. Have you tried to pick up a 7 gallon water container? Use one gallon bottles instead.
  5. If you have a sink full of water, scoop out water and pour over dirty hands rather than submerge dirty hands into a sink of clean water. Wet paper towels also come in handy.
  6. Have a separate source for drinking water. A stand alone water filter works well.
  7. Have a few ready made meals in reserve that only need to be heated up.
  8. Don't let your trash and dirty dishes pile up - at least rinse and stack them. Use paper plates instead.
  9. Lay down plastic sheeting over muddy areas you plan to lie down on.
  10. We can save a plumber's bill if we don't mind being without water a day and are prepared to make a few trips into town for parts.
  11. It is possible to survive longer than 24 hours without taking a shower. 
  12. No matter how hard you try not to, you still will instinctively flush the toilet.
  13. Make friends with your neighbors. You never know when you might need to take a shower at their place.

We've known about the leak since January.

We found the leak by the wet patch in the grass.

Guv'nor dug up an area around the wet patch.

We have sticky black gumbo dirt.

The leak was up near the front gate.

The water cut off valve was about 20 yards away by the fence.

The leak was in a section of 2" pipe.

Here's the leaky section that was cut out.

The joint used on the first attempt was, in hindsight, rather feeble.

The final joint was expandable and monitored a few days for leaks before filling in the hole.

This 7 gallon water container is very useful but very heavy.

I prefer storing water in half gallon, 1 liter, and 1 gallon bottles.

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