Brown Thumb #2

Here's page 2 of the Brown Thumb Saga and adventure tales. It's all true, unfortunately


I finally admit I don’t have one, BUT I do have a replacement valve. Simple, just unscrew the old one and install the new one. No big deal.

With pipe wrench in hand, I twist on the valve. Pretty tight, better get a bigger wrench. One good torque, and the valve is free, but NO! The pipe breaks off. Now I have to replace the pipe coming out of the wall! Off to the hardware store again for a replacement pipe, and a valve, because the one I have is the wrong size.  Didn’t notice that when I decided to replace the valve. Back. Now, get a tool called an easyout. It fits inside the broken pipe with teeth so I can use a wrench and unscrew it from the connection within the wall. I carefully twist. Feels like it’s moving! POP! I break off the soldered joint within the wall. UGH! This is getting serious.

After knocking a hole in the wall, I can see the broken joint using my one working flashlight. Back to the hardware store for a new solder fitting. Getting dark, so I gotta set up a light so I can solder the new joint on. This requires reaching back into the wall with the torch and heating the joint until the solder melts. But first, I have to get all the water out of the pipe within the wall (remember, the shutoff valve wasn’t completely closed) or it won’t get hot enough to melt the solder. The only way is to siphon the water out and solder it quickly before it fills. Reaching inside the wall, I put some plastic tubing into the pipe, and suck. The siphon starts. The question is how much time after the siphon tube is removed do I have before the water fills the pipe again? I heat the new joint and set it down while heating the one in the wall. OUCH the God Damn thing is hot! Now I have a real nice burn blister. Better get welding gloves. Reach in and… I think I’ve got it. Give the pipe a wiggle and NO! GDMF Repeat above without burning myself again. This time it holds. Now for the test. Turn on the water.

Back inside the hole near the street with my flashlight clasped in my teeth, I try to open the shutoff valve. The new handle spins. Is it open? I climb out and go to the house to see. Nope, just a dribble. Now we are past serious. I can’t turn the water to the house on! I’m worried. If I keep fiddling with the valve and break it from the rusty pipe coming from the main, it will flood the hole and I’ll have shut the water down for the neighborhood. Nothing more I can destroy do tonight. No water in the house. No shower, NO TOILETS!

Dry morning, Ugh. I do have enough bottled water for drinking, and Oh Thank God, coffee. I arrange with my neighbor to run a hose from her house to mine so I can backfill the house and we’ll have water. This requires running a hose across the road. Back to the hardware store for 200 feet of hose.  I run it across the road and voila! Water in the house. FLUSH THE TOILETS! Water smells like vinyl from the hose. No drinking.  But it’s water! Showers, dishes, laundry. Is there no end to the luxury? I look out at the road. Cars are running across the hose and it’s looking like one of those balloon toys that clowns make. Another car, and Thar she blows! Back to the hardware store for another hose and some boards to keep the cars from squashing the hose.

Now I call my friend (remember the antique car guy) and explain my woes. I tell him that the valve on the pipeline from the main has to be replaced. We have to dig the line up, and while we’re at it, I should replace the 50 year-old pipeline to the house. “No problems, Bro. I’ll get an excavator. Be over there tomorrow.”


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