atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#4924: I get to learn how to sweat pipes this weekend!

So, I was chatting with Og, and it was past my bedtime, so when he logged off I decided I'd do the same.

Before I could retire, I had to brush my teeth, and the bathroom sink has been clogged for a couple of days. It was worst today, barely draining at all, so this morning I resolved that I'd plunge it before bed. No problem.

So there was I, bravely plunging the sink, and it was quiet in the house because for the first time in months there were no fans running (low 60s outside, windows closed) and I could hear this odd sound.

Do you know what it sounds like when water runs on plastic sheeting? A thin stream like from a barely-open faucet? That's the sound I heard when water began draining from the sink.

Oh, dick.

Grabbed a flashlight, went downstairs, opened the bulkhead to the crawlspace--sure enough, there was a nice little trickle of water descending from the drain pipe.


Okay: 95% of the plumbing in the bunker is fifty years old; this is not entirely unexpected. Convenient, however, is another story. A quick gander at the plumbing let me suss out the piping: the toilet drains straight down into the sewer, and the sink and bathtub T into that big pipe. The leak is on the sink side; the tub side is hale and hearty.

So I went back upstairs and ran water in the tub, then went back down to look at the situation. Yes, water began trickling out of the pipe again, because why should it be just a matter of not using the sink?

But I'm nifty; I rapidly thought of a quick fix: I could take a piece of rubber hose and a couple of radiator hose clamps and apply a temporary patch to the pipe. That would keep the water--or most of it, anyway--from draining directly into the crawl space, and give me time to get paid (payday is Friday!) so I'd have money for materials, and to get some guidance from more knowledgeable sources. In other words, I won't have to call off work tomorrow to fix this shit so we have a working bathroom.

I assembled my tools and materials, then geared up: one of my mechanic shirts (leftover red polo from the Target days, already "distressed"), sweatpants, socks I didn't care about, my car work sneakers, and a hoodie as protection from spiderwebs. Two flashlights, my multi-tool, two hose clamps, nut driver for same, and a length of heater hose from my heater core flush kit.

The bulkhead is smaller than I remember it being. It was a snug fit, but the stepstool wasn't tall enough for me to get in; and while I was arranging for something with more height Mrs. Fungus came home with food. I explained the situation to her, ate dinner, and then resumed work.

Squeezed into the crawl space, eeled over to where the hole in the pipe was, and was able to sit upright indian-style and get to work. Cutting the hose was the hardest part; otherwise I was able to apply the patch and tighten it down without incident. Had Mrs. Fungus run some water in the tub, and all the thing did was drip slowly.

A vast improvement over the steady stream I got before when I ran the tub.

...because the hole in the pipe is about 2.5 inches long and half an inch wide. No I don't know how long it's been like this, but this hole is big enough that it did not form overnight. Now, I did put some Drano into the sink drain Sunday night, so it's just possible that the pipe had corroded severely and was already leaking, and the Drano merely put the finishing touches on it; but judging by the overall dampness and appearance of the affected area it's not the way to bet. It's probably been like this a while--possibly all summer, even.

In my defense: the sink does not drain fast--has not drained fast for quite some time--and as I said it was a mere trickle; and in summertime with the fans on you can't hear a pin drop or anything that's less loud than about the volume of normal conversation. The only reason I could hear this noise was because I was home alone and the house was dead quiet.

So this weekend, instead of doing anything mechanical on the Jeep, I'm going to be cutting the rotted section of pipe out and sweating in a new piece. I've never sweated a pipe joint before. It's not rocket science, of course, but it's still going to take some doing.

Plus side, I caught it before freezing weather, so the crawl space will have time to dry out before winter. I'm going to have to temporarily cordon off the basement (to keep the cats out of the crawl space) and put a fan in the bulkhead once the repair is done, so as to blow dry air in there to speed the drying process. Further, there's no mold or fungus smell in the crawl space beyond the musty smell you'd expect from a confined, unfinished space like that.

It shouldn't take much money to buy the materials, either, and I've already got a propane torch. (Come to think of it, this is the excuse I need to buy one of those nifty trigger-type torches! Hooray, new tools!)

Such a stimulating life I lead.

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