December 10, 2006

The Water Saga (as promised), part 1

On the first day, Kudi (one of our Team Leaders) asked the group if there was anyone who knew anything about plumbing and water heaters, because they were going to need to remove one. I sort of tentatively raised my hand, because I knew a little bit, but I figured that the TLs would have more experience than me, right? And they sort of did, but what I had was more information in my head, because anytime I run into anything with my house, I read up on it.

So anyway, the gut proceeds for a while, and then later that day they ask for me and Mack (who also professed some experience) over to the side of the house, where they've had problems turning off the water. Turns out, they've found the curbside water cutoff, and they turned it off with the T-bar, but when that valve is shut off, it starts spraying water everywhere. So, plan B. I suggested that there must be a customer shutoff inside the house---but I'd look for it in the basement, and this being New Orleans, there is no basement. The house is basically up on stilts, and there's a crawlspace underneath.

Several of us get on our knees and peer around; no valves in evidence, but we can certainly see the pipes. They appear to branch before they get anywhere, which seems strange because there must be some way to shut it off, right? We go through the house, and there's really nothing. Argh. Since the city water people will have to eventually fix the curb shutoff anyway, we figure we'll call them.

After lunch, a guy from the city shows up, and it turns out I was right: there was a customer shutoff, but it was just buried a little bit! We were able to dig that out and shut it off. Problem solved, right?

Then we start looking at the hot water heater and trying to figure out how to dismantle it. Kudi is arguing for using a hacksaw, but that seems extreme. Unfortunately we don't have a plumber's wrench, or even a big crescent wrench, so we decide to put it off to the second day.

The morning of the second day, we made a new discovery. One of the trailer residents out back came out and said she was getting ready for work, and could we turn the water on? It turns out that to plumb the trailers, they put in a splitter on the back garden hose faucet, with hoses running to each trailer. Which meant that we couldn't shut off water to the house without shutting it off to the trailers as well. Problem! We turned it back on and figured out what to do next.

After the resident left, we went back to work, but we told everybody to be super careful, because we were going to have to turn it back on every night before we left! Meanwhile we set about draining the HWH: screwed in a garden hose and... oh, wait, the back security screen is locked and we can't run the hose out that way. So I suggest running it out the window---this would require starting a siphon. I tried doing it the old-fashioned way, with my mouth; although this ended up not working, it caused Kudi to nominate me as a Stud at that night's community meeting, which required me to then stand up and announce "I am a stud" to the gathered group, and let me tell you, I haven't heard the end of that yet.

Gotta go! More later.

(continued in part 2)

Posted by blahedo at 12:53pm on 10 Dec 2006
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