Saturday, May 17, 2008

The biggest honey-do list ever

I am not sure how many of you out there have bought a 10 yr. old monster house and revamped it to your lovely wifey's every whim. Talk about the ultimate honey-do list. Every weekend from Christmas till now has been a multitasking circus juggling act. But oddly enough I have enjoyed most of it.
My latest adventure had to do with the sprinkler system. It had been getting warmer over the last few weeks and the grass was beginning to look like the hair on the back of a Russian boar, so I thought I'll just run home after work and flip on the sprinklers and water the lawn for the first time after the winter, simple right? Ya really simple!
I open the valve for the sprinkler system and go in the garage to look at the program on the time clock. I set a zone and then walk around to the front of the house to see that it is being watered. That's strange no water streams dancing around the lawn spraying life back into the grass. Not even a hiss or sound, huh? ... guess I'll go check the clock again, huh?.... looks good to me, guess I'll go check the valve....! holy Krakatowa! I came around the corner and there was a mud geyser in my back yard. I rush over and shut off the valve for the sprinkler system in the valve box confident that would stem the deluge, no such luck, it kept on pumping and the hole in my yard was growing by the second. Last resort shut of the pump in the well. Needless to say that worked. I was temporarily saved from a Noah's Ark situation. As a side note we only have two dogs so gathering the animals would have taken less time than poor old Noah.
Time for damage control. Sizing up the crater I can see first of all that there is about 2 yards of mud on the ground around the hole and on the front of the truck which was parked near by. So after an emergency phone consultation from the family plumber (my father in law), I grab a shovel and dig in. 1 hour later and 5 feet sub surface I find the source of the explosion. The system drain valve is broken clean off. Huh, how could that happen? But there is no question about it, the pipe is dripping water and even the valve is in the bottom of the hole but blown clear to the other side of the crater. So it was back to the phone for more plumbing advice, and after a few minutes of explanation I have a clear view of my objectives to wrap up this little speed bump in my road to watering the lawn.
2 things have to be said so that you can have a clear picture of how happy I was at this point. First, the muddy hole that I was climbing in and out of for the next 2 days was as deep as I am tall. The end of this metal pipe was at the bottom of the hole by my feet, I am thinking this should be easy enough just reach down and put a new valve on the end of the pipe. Simple enough right? Mmm not really. As soon as I hopped down in the hole, I came to the understanding that this would be one of those jobs where you have to contort and reach and work all those muscles that never get worked, in the most uncomfortable position you could think of. If you can imagine here is the position: I am in a muddy hole 5 feet deep reaching down to a pipe that is at my feet. The hole seemed wide enough before I dropped into it, but then I bent over to reach the pipe and soon realized that to reach it I had to press my arse on one side of the hole while pressing my bigger arse (head) on the other side. Let me remind you just a few hours earlier this hole was filled with mud.
Second: the end of the valve was broken off inside the pipe and I had to get it out to be able to put the new one on. The pipe was metal and the valve was plastic so the plumberly advice I had received was just "stick a knife in the end of the pipe and give it a couple twists and it should come right out". Hum...sounded easy enough, but after about 2 hours of twisting I had had enough for one day. 10pm and time to wash the mud out of all my secret spots.
Day two: I think the best advice anyone can give is "always bring a gun to a knife fight". I was not going to let this little situation get the best of me so during hours I should have been sleeping it was planning my attack. The big question was how to get the broken valve out of the threads of the other pipe, It had become very clear I was on my own, plumberly advice had failed, and there was no way I was crouching down in that muddy hell to do one more twist with a knife. Then it came to me, Like a light coming on in a dark refrigerator while getting a midnight snack, I figured out my solution.
The next day I came home armed with a gun for my "knife fight" and I knew I was gong to win this little bout. A word of advice, If you run across a problem you cant solve, just burn it.
It worked for me.
I stuck a torch on the end of that pipe got it cherry red and with in 15 minutes I had a new valve on the end and the hole buried up like none of it had ever happened. I flipped on the sprinklers and strutted into the house like a rooster into the hen house, and nonchalantly said to Challis whats that out in the yard? (like I was seeing the neighbors lap dog leave a turd in the grass) she looked out and said "what"? "Oh you got the sprinklers fixed, good job honey." and walked off.
Superman did a lot of things that didn't make the morning paper also. So I guess I'll count the whole deal was a personal victory.