Sunday, July 11, 2010

New best friend

My new best friend is this stuff. Self-fusing silicone repair tape. The why is a somewhat long story.

See, A's house has been landscaped, at least in front, with way too much "xeric dirt" and we set out to change that. At one time, long, long ago, the front yard had a sprinkler system. In keeping with the lower water use that we in the Southwest should all be practicing, I set out to put in a drip irrigation system for various soon-to-be-installed native and low-water-use shrubs. Digging out the four sprinkler on/off valves, I found a 2 or 3 inch galvanized line coming in and a tangled mass of corroded galvanized 1 inch pipe going out.

Too much for my (lack of) skills. We talked to a plumber who agreed that, yeah, the big line coming in probably tied into the main line into the house and he could tie to that with a backflow prevention device and a pressure reducer. Now, with the summer rains coming, we set out to get the new stuff in the ground during the cooler, wetter time so that it'd have a chance to get established for the winter and a good start next spring.

We plotted out and dug trenches for the irrigation lines, bought risers, manifolds, emitters and pvc and put the whole thing together. This past Friday, that was all taken care of and we were ready for a plumber to tie into the old stuff and we'd be off planting and other fun stuff. The original guy who'd looked at it wasn't available, though, so we talked to another outfit. They took one look at the original pipe and said that no, they couldn't fasten to that and they'd recommend replacing the main line from the house to the meter.

They further opined that, while we could get someone to try to fasten to the old stuff, and we might get lucky that doing so would not engender any leaks, we'd be living on borrowed time. So far as we know, the original line is nearly seventy years old or so.

The quoted price was about our original budget for the project but, we talked it over and then got to digging out a deeper trench to get the water line to the house, including digging out everything up to the meter including under the sidewalk. That was Saturday, plumbers due this morning.

After much patient digging to get to the meter, ginger excavation premised upon the truly rotten condition of the water line, I managed to whack that pipe with a shovel about two p.m. on Saturday afternoon (Not that hard! Really! It was a tap!). Water began blasting out across the yard, I began cursing and sprinting for the key to turn off the water at the meter. Geyser subdued, it was off to the local hardware store. I was thinking of a couple of big pipe clamps and some thick-ish rubber sheeting but the guy at the store recommended trying a ten-dollar roll of "Rescue Tape". Self-fusing silicone wonder tape in hand, I returned home and cleaned some of the scale (not too much, it's about all that's holding things together) off the pipe and laid in a couple of layers of tape. It's funky stuff. You stretch it to activate it so that it'll stick and it gets hot as you do so (and smells funny- I don't really want to think about what those chemicals might do). The harder you stretch it, the faster and tighter it fuses. One hard part is just stretching the section you're trying to lay down- stretch further up the roll, it'll fold onto itself and immediately become permanently useless (of course, I'm doing all this two feet down in dirt and mud, so nice even wraps are a bit of a challenge). Two courses of tape did not stop the leak and blew out. Approximately five courses of tape, the whole roll, did. Dry as a bone-40 psi nicely contained. Ten dollars. No call to an emergency plumber. A shower that evening. Water in the dog's bowl. I love that stuff.

A roll is going in the truck, another in the house, and one might even get into my daypack.


Terry Scoville said...

That is great tape. I have used it for my "bow" grip and plenty of other repairs that good old duct tape wasn't able to. I keep a roll in my gunning box as well. Don't know if BP is aware if it or not. (lol)

mdmnm said...

That's good to know. I see they have a wide version of the tape available from the web site. I think that's the type I'll be ordering for keeping in the truck.

Chad Love said...

I think in that situation my new best friend would be...the plumber.

But I may have to get some of that tape...

mdmnm said...

Well, a Saturday plumber is an expensive beast. The Monday plumber cost more than any gun I've ever bought. Heck, the tape was only one trip to the hardware store. I had another trip or two in me before it started getting dark and I had to call a pro (of course, that's easy to say now).