December 23, 2006

The Water Saga (part 2)

(continued from part 1)

Ok, so I've tried to drain the hot water heater by running hose out the window and starting a siphon with my mouth. Which was dumb, but what can you do? I will say that based on later discoveries, the only water that touched my mouth was whatever had been in the garden hose before we started, which is a little less gross, I guess.

Anyway, more running around to try to figure out what to do. All of a sudden I have this major epiphany: the water can't drain out of the system until air can enter itómeaning not just opening the valves connecting the HWH to the house, but actually opening a faucet somewhere. So I turn on the laundry sink faucet. And, thinking further, I should probably do this upstairs to actually let the water drain out of the system and not just keep dripping (or whooshing out later as enough air eventually works its way in)....

I just go ahead and do this, wandering to the upstairs bathroom and turning the faucet and shutoff valve. I'm rewarded with a coughing, sucking sound as air flows into the system and (downstairs) water flows out. Success!

At this point, I pile up the whole garden hose inside the house, with the end of it draining into the sink. Turning on the HWH drain valve, I'm rewarded with a rush of clear water, then black gooky water, then clear again. At this point, I (keeping the end of the hose in the sink) feed the middle part of the hose out the window, then cap the hose with my hand and throw the end out. Siphon successful! I report in to Kudi that the HWH is draining. This takes longer than you might think, and brings us more or less to the end of the work day.

So then the task becomes removal of the HWH and laundry sink, first thing on Thursday (day 3). There had been talk of using a hacksaw, but now that we had proper tools that looked unnecessary; the plumber's wrench made quick work of the pressure release pipe that drained through the floor, for instance. Someone else had removed the sink while I was off doing something else, and Kudi and I are easily able to unscrew the HWH connections with a crescent wrench. Time to remove the thing....

...Only, the dolly, one of the nice ones with inflatable tires, has a flat! This seems nearly inevitable in a piece of equipment regularly used on a gutting site, but nevertheless, puts a bit of a damper on the proceedings. So, I grab someone to help and we lug the sucker out by hand. Which is less bad than you might think: a drained hot water heater weighs a lot less than a full one!

But in the meantime, I've had a problematic revelation: the house's water has to come back on at the end of the day. Only one of the HWH pipes has a cutoff, and I'm not 100% convinced it's the inflow, but we're willing to gamble. But where the laundry sink was, there are now two bare pipes (three if you count the drain) open to the world, with no cutoffs to be seen anywhere. Kudi and Laura (the TLs) call a conference on what to do about this, and I'm called in as the local water expert (!), and the verdict is that after lunch we'll make a Home Depot run for some sort of shutoff valve we can screw on, or maybe just pipe caps to cover over the ends. Because we have to get something over them before we turn on the FEMA trailers' water supply when we leave....

Of course, what really should have happened is that the owners needed to get an extra garden hose, and divert the trailer water supply from the house's inflow, rather than from the outside tap. This would be trivial for a plumber and not hard for the homeowner; I'd've just done it, but this was technically outside our job description, I didn't have any Teflon tape, and if anything went wrong it might've been Bad.

But, during lunch, more epiphanies. Even without reinstalling the whole sink, surely we could just block the open water line the same way it was blocked before, viz the laundry sink's faucet? Brilliant! No Home Depot run required.

Of course, that's assuming everything fits right.... I still don't have any Teflon tape, and so at the end of the day when it comes time to reattach the thing, we just screw it back on and cross our fingers. The water comes on... "Stop stop stop!!!" Ok, so, water spraying all around the laundry room is less than ideal. Tightening the one that was spraying only gets it down to a slow drip... but the TLs say it's good enough and that they'll come back with one of the more experienced Hands On folks that evening to check it out.

Now I'm getting distracted by Christmasy things. Guess this'll have to be a three-part story!

Posted by blahedo at 11:53pm on 23 Dec 2006
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