Friday, December 4, 2009

The Water Leak

On March 20th I discovered something somewhat expected. What I mean is that when owning a house built in the 1940s there are bound to be some maintenance issues. How was I supposed to know it would be the worst case scenario? My water bill came, and it came with a vengeance. I had used 55,000 gallons of water. I really didn't know where it was leaking though. There was no clear evidence. No flowing river of water from a identifiable source. So, I had to hire a plumber to probe the ground listening for running water. It was discovered coming from the rental house, in back. I notified the tenant, Joel that there would be a possibility he would have to move out. He wasn't at all happy. I suggested to him that if we would be able to access the leak and repair it, he wouldn't have to move, if not, than a major renovation would probably be the result. I dug down next to the foundation, and a flood of water came rushing out. It had filled up the crawlspace. That explained why the floor was sinking, but the shower and toilet wasn't. I gave Joel a month's notice to vacate (fortunately he was on a month-to-month lease). For the next month I had to go to the curb in the morning, turn the water on for an hour, then turn it back off until evening, then go to the curb and do it all again. Once he had moved out, the renovations began with the water line. It was galvanized pipe from the curb to both houses. I saw no point in trying to salvage the elderly steel. I called the plumber again and asked for a bid to replace the line with PEX plastic piping. If I did the excavating it would cost me only $1000, otherwise it would be $4000. I figured I could run a ditch witch as well as anybody, especially if it saved me $3000. Little did I know I would be needing every penny I had. The first challenge was to move the 5 person jacuzzi tub. I figured that if the Egyptians could move giant rocks, I could move a jacuzzi. First I built a cart, welding it out of steel and using wheel barrow wheels. Then I used pipes under the tub to roll it onto the cart. Slowly we rolled it out of the yard, like a house mover. A few welds broke in the street as the result of trying to make too sharp of a turn, but I eventually got it into the side yard. The next task was to concrete saw the jacuzzi pad and jack hammer a section to allow the ditch witch a path. I ran the ditch witch for three days, parallel to the old water line for a total of about 80 feet. I then had to dig under my house foundation, and under the rental foundation by hand, so the new plumbing could be connected. The photos show the 30" deep trench with boards covering it up, so the dogs or Kristi wouldn't fall in them and break a leg. The trench was only about 6" wide after all.

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