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MMWD Blog: Think Blue Marin

Welcome to our blog! Written by staff at MMWD, “Think Blue Marin” explores all things water in south and central Marin—water supplies, conservation, new projects, watershed management, and more.

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Apr 01

A Break in the Line

Posted on April 1, 2016 at 9:28 AM by Emma Detwiler

by Charlene Burgi

How ironic that last week was Fix-A-Leak Week and I would need to fix a water pipe going to the bunkhouse bathroom before the grandchildren took up occupancy there for the weekend.

Friday's early closure of the local irrigation store in Lassen left me without the necessary parts to complete the project as it was designed before the break. The pipe size was an odd 1 1/4 inch Schedule 40 PVC. I had the right size end cap but gluing the end cap on the bit of exposed pipe, and how it was configured, would have prevented me from ever using the water coming from that pipe in the future. I knew I had to extend the pipe somehow before capping it off.

Luckily, there is a huge assortment of irrigation parts here at the ranch, but not the part I needed for a simple fix. One thing I learned over the years is irrigation parts are like putting together a project from an erector set. Different configurations, pieces and parts can get the job done. If you enjoy treasure hunts and putting puzzles together, this would classify as a delightful project.

The treasure hunt came in the form of finding something called a coupler to fit over the existing 1 1/4 inch pipe. A coupler is a short pipe fitting that slides over and glues to the existing pipe on one side and slides over another pipe on the opposite end of the coupler. These couplers are great for gluing long lengths of pipe together that allow pipe to traverse long distances without a break. I, however, only looked to gain another eight inches of insurance! Those eight inches would allow me to cut into the pipe for future connection if needed. Nonetheless, the concept is the same - pipe extension!

Fortunately, I found the right size coupler as well as another piece of 1 1/4 inch pipe to provide the needed length. It didn't take long to glue the coupler, new pipe and end cap into place.   The PVC pipe glue used contained a primer and all excess glue oozing from the coupler and end cap were wiped clean. After allowing the glue to set, the water was turned on and the kids were happy campers!

This project may sound simple since the pieces needed were available. However, I mentioned there could be a puzzle and that would come in the form of only finding pipe of a different size and would require looking for another pipe fitting called a reducer bushing. This pipe fitting would slide onto the existing pipe but require the opposite end of the coupling to fit the diameter of the pipe found to extend the length. I am certain that the landscape professionals reading this will have a dozen other methods for making this fix work by going through their existing irrigation boxes to see what they have on hand. It is a puzzle that can be fun and challenging!

If this project is fascinating to you, may I suggest taking a ride to an irrigation supply house and wander the many rows of parts. Pick up some parts that match the size pipes you have going to your irrigation system. You never know when a repair is needed.

Have a great weekend.

 Couplers, reducer bushings and pipe
 Couplers, reducer bushings, and pipe

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