Adventures in pipe replacement – part deux!

georgia My plumber arrived on time yesterday morning, apparently from Georgia (formerly part of the Soviet Union, not the state in which I live), and commenced working. However, based on a previous conversation I had with his office, I was under the impression that he would be using a pipe replacement technique in which they slide the new pipe inside the old pipe and then pull it all the way through, splitting the old pipe in the process. The idea here is that you can run a new line without ever having to fire up a trencher.

That was not to be the case.

By noon, I had a very circuitously trenched path from my water shut-off valve, down the hill, around my grass, through where some of my prized bushes were placed, under my sidewalk, and then through yet more bushes (flame creeper azaleas).

When I saw the path of death and destruction, I nearly cried. Me, a grown man.

The fellow doing the work, in broken English, explained why the “split and replace method” didn’t work and why he had to trench, and then I explained how he’d just destroyed about $300 worth of plants, not including the $600 Seiryu Japanese Maple that he laid his boring pipe against and rubbed off a 1.5″ strip of bark, right before WINTER!!!!

I was pretty upset.

By 4:30 p.m., he had the pipe in the ground and was just letting the PVC set before turning the water on and I began the arduous task of getting my plants back in the ground. Unfortunately, he put the pipe right under three of them, which meant, despite his having buried the pipe 13″, I still had to raise the mounds up where I put the plants just so I could cover the existing roots.

I fumed. I “huffed.” I made very annoyed screeching sounds when I talked. It was not my finest moment, but this was like having someone come into your house and write all over your walls with pink magic marker and then having the paint store tell you that they don’t sell your particular color anymore!

In the end, he helped me put everything back and I watered it in as best I could. I surveyed the damage again this morning and it looks like most of my big stuff will make it, though I lost an entire section of Creeping Jenny and probably two Flame Creeper Azaleas.

Here’s a before and after:

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It’s hard to tell the difference here, but there is one. If nothing else, the difference is in my psyche!

But we have water now. I washed dishes, I cleaned, I wiped things down, I FLUSHED! (repeatedly). It’s a great feeling. Honestly, I don’t know what people did before modern plumbing. I really don’t!

As if the gas shortage isn’t bad enough

Our old house had polybutylene pipes. If you’re not familiar, they are a plasty-crap invention from the 80s that have since become one of the biggest homeowner liabilities in the industry. Apparently, the chlorine in the water eats away at the pipes until they just burst.

Ours finally burst over our kitchen in the old house, flooding two floors. We ripped all the poly out and replaced it with copper, replaced all the sheetrock and then promptly moved!

Here’s some pics from that little joy:

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When we moved, another of our criteria (in addition to sidewalks) was a house with copper pipes. Our current house has copper pipes on the inside, but a poly line running from the main to the house. One of my first orders of business when we moved in, was to get it replaced.

But, I never did.

I woke up this morning after CareerMom had left for a 6 a.m. aerobics class and heard the sound of running water through the pipes. Wondering where it could possibly be coming from since no one else was awake (and with a sense of pending doom in my chest), I slowly walked from bathroom to bathroom checking for a  flowing toilet, or a running faucet that perhaps the kids left on. Nothing.

I checked the basement, fearing a foot of water and ruined collectibles…nothing.

I went outside to the faucet where the main line comes in…NIAGARA FALLS!

So, we’re unlucky in that our water main burst last night, but lucky in that there was zero damage to the inside of the house. I called and left CareerMom a message on her cell to pick up some water on her way home, and then I left a message with one of the plumbers who gave me an estimate for the work.

Hopefully, they’ll come right out, but I have my doubts. Could be a sucky coupla days around here.

UPDATE: Due to the hazard of digging and possibly hitting another utility line, we won’t be able to get it fixed till tomorrow. So, looks like showering at the gym; baths at grammas, and dining out! Oh, and begging the neighbors for water to flush the toilets.
Ah, deeeeep cleansing breaths. Happy happy joy joy thoughts.