Derek of the mole people

Last weekend, a small thing got bigger and I ended up tearing out the master shower, at which point I discovered that (as I’d suspected) the people who did the last bit of work in there did a really horrible job. I did what I could tearing down the master, and then got through the week without it, working a little bit after work — the fiberglass insulation was moldy, so that had to go, and so on.

Pretty soon, I was tearing out the plumbing. Starting Friday after work, I started to go through and fix stuff. Hall hot water pressure’s always been pretty bad. I found it’s because the pipe was 90% clogged with corrosion.

And as I went down, I got angrier and angrier. Like this.

Things going on here:
– on the right, that white thing is a CPVC pipe, a hot water run. I don’t know when it went in, but it’s super fragile and breaks easily. I would later crack my head on that very joint, and it came apart, dumping water all over me. So I had to re-do the CPVC run. I did not use CPVC. No one uses CPVC.
– the rest of those pipes are the old steel pipes that have rusted. You can see they’re leaking corrosion at the joints
– the joint in the center there is, on the left, held together by electrical tape. At some point in this house’s history, someone went down there, saw a leak, and made a decision that they wouldn’t fix it. You can see that it’s dripping there.
– behind that piece, you can also see that there’s a different pipe run (cold) that comes in, hits a T, one leg of which continues, takes a 90 degree turn up to another T. All of those fittings were rusty and leaky

Or check out this piece of work:

On the left, a badly-done union. Note that it is leaking rust-heavy water.
On the right, that’s a 1/2 inch copper run from the master shower (which I tore out) to the cold water line. Note that it’s directly connected. Two different kinds of metals. This leads to all kinds of corrosion problems. This apparently didn’t occur to whoever did the conversion.

Anyway, my point is that in going through and making all these repairs at once, it’s good, but it’s essentially a re-piping job. Once I’ve replaced a broken CPVC run and the corroded fittings it’s attached to, I’ve broken the next run of rusted-out steel piping, and repairing that…

So my week’s run:
Friday: get home, plumb
Saturday: plumb (several hours of discussing plumbing while not doing plumbing)
Sunday: plumb
Mon-Wed: vacation
Thurs: plumb

I spent ~7 hours under my house today, which is down from Sunday’s 15. We’re four fittings away from being done, but the problem with plumbing – heh – is that getting those fittings working

Here’s what gets my goat, though. Every time I have to use a Sawzall to pull out a pipe or a set of fittings, I think “Someone made a decision to leave this for me, and I hate them”. And it’s true. Whoever welded those copper runs directly in either didn’t care enough to find out the right way to do that or didn’t care that it was wrong. And it goes all the way back — someone made the design decision to build this place with piping that would rust, even though they were laying it into interior walls.

And working all day in a crawlspace because someone didn’t want to put the time and effort in before me, well, that’s not the kind of situation that leads to happy thoughts about those who came before me.

Still, I have high hopes that the water pressure will finally leap back up when I’m finished. Here’s hoping.

2 thoughts on “Derek of the mole people

  1. Danno

    Dude, your water pressure is most dependent upon the size of your main supply line in from the street. If you have less than a 1/2 ” supply, you won’t get alot of improvement no matter what you do past the supply line.
    I am no plumber, just a self taught carpenter who has had to deal with plumbing to get it done.
    You are on the right track, do it all now, you will not have to go back down there.
    I am not plugging anyone, but if you go to Morgan Plumbing in Ballard they have everything. Home Depot and Loewes do not. You can probably find that 1/2 to 3/8 compression copper adapter that you need.
    Do it all in copper, do not allow unlike metals to be installed in contact with each other, use the special adapter.
    Old iron pipes were all there were back in the day. They do rust eventually but they could be screwed together in about any configuration, and you did not have to paly with fire.
    The new thing is Pex, which they use for in-floor heating and can basically be crimped in about any configuration, it is flexible, and I believe Loewes actually has the special crimper.

    Good Luck, Go M’s.

  2. jwb

    Every time I have to use a Sawzall to pull out a pipe or a set of fittings, I think “Someone made a decision to leave this for me, and I hate them”.

    Sawzalls can be used for many things. Thinking about some of them might help you feel better.

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