by Charlene Burgi
The year was 1993. Temperatures sank into the 20s in Marin County for over a week. I remember our 8-foot-deep pool froze over in Novato. I also recall watching my mare, Lucky, standing outside her stall peering into the barn door for hours before I went out to investigate. My findings? Lucky was fascinated by the water spraying all over her stall. A PVC pipe supplying water to her automatic water feeder broke with the freezing temperature. While she found this display entertaining, I could only think of the misery of working in cold water when the temperatures were below freezing!
These memories came back to haunt me this week in Lassen. Garden hoses froze solid, so I was unable to fill the heated water troughs for the horses. In order to thaw out the hoses, I thought to place them in a heated insulated wooden structure that houses the bunkhouse water heater. The next morning, as I yanked out the hoses, I noticed a pipe lying on the ground but was intent on getting water troughs filled while the hoses were pliable. That afternoon, water no longer flowed from the well. I walked down to the pump house and all seemed functional there, but, alas, there wasn't water coming up to the barn and house. It didn't take long to find the break as I walked into the barn to feed the horses. The back of the barn had a river pouring through. The point of origin was the wooden insulated box. In hastily pulling out the hoses, I had broken the pipe!
| Pipe repair
What to do! Gathering my wits about me, I saw the shut-off valve behind the broken pipe. Try as I might, it wouldn't budge. Did I mention it was freezing cold out? Pipe wrench and hammer in hand, I managed to dissuade the errant valve from its open position. I stared down at the 1 1/2 inch pipe that led to nothing at this time. The portion of broken pipe had been capped off in the past. Bolstered by this easy fix, I scouted out a new end cap, pipe glue, sand paper, and pipe cutters. I was thankful for the years of teaching irrigation, working with landscape professionals, and a well-equipped shop.
If you ever have a broken PVC pipe, the recipe for repair can be very simple or complex depending on the break and its location. First, cutting the pipe straight is imperative. Wipe the pipe clean of burrs and lightly sandpaper the edges. Depending on the type of pipe glue you have, swab primer evenly around the outside edge of the pipe and (in this specific case) the inside of the end cap. Follow the primer with pipe glue making certain to apply an even coat around the entire surface of the pipe and the interior surface of the end cap. Or if you have pipe glue that contains primer, swab the primer/glue evenly around the exterior pipe and interior cap and slide the two units together, wiping any excess glue from the pipe. Wait the recommended time indicated on your can of pipe glue before turning on the water.
This process becomes more complicated if the break is in the middle of the pipe. There is a product called a slip fix that can marry the two ends of the broken pipe together. Again, cut the broken ends and measure for the allowed space to insert the purchased slip fix between the two ends. Make certain the slip fix is the same diameter as the broken pipe. Glue the pipe as mentioned above on one side of the slip fix. Slide the other end of the slip fix to fill the breach and into the opposite end of the broken pipe. Glue that end together to form one solid pipe again. Or, you can call a Qualified Water Efficient Landscaper
who can repair the pipe in short order!
My takeaway lesson is: Haste makes waste!