Mrs Plug the Plumber
Puffin Books, 1980 - 24 pages
We had the book. The title is stuck in my head. We finally got the plumbing sorted out, the waterfall has dried up. It only took us four attempts. On Boxing day we heated up the connections and removed the pipe and the shut off valve. The new pipe was cut, we did a quick read-up of soldering copper water pipe on Google. The ends were cleaned, a new elbow added. The hardest part was cleaning the old solder out of the shut off valve so the pipe would fit in it. I did that while Larry went out to do the evening chores. Feeding Pride and the Old Ewe, collecting eggs, shutting in the chickens. While I was blasting that blow torch into the valve, and it was making weird noises, it suddenly dawned on me that I was probably destroying the rubber seal. Since it was now just after 5, and being Boxing Day the stores had closed early, I couldn't find a store open to go and purchase a new valve. We had to put the old one on. I'm happy to say that our soldered joints worked just fine. The valve was not fine though. It leaked like mad, and....the next piece of copper pipe, running horizontal just under the ceiling, had now developed a pin prick leak. We set up the waterfall, and then turned off the water overnight. The next morning the valve started to seal itself up. The drips went from two per second, eventually to one every ninety seconds. And then I said, I wonder if the shut off part will work. What good is a valve if you can't shut it off? So yeah, I had to turn it. No, of course it didn't shut the water off, it was squirting out through the tap part. When I opened the valve back up, the one drip per 90 seconds was now a steady stream. So I went out to pick up feed for the animals, and got another valve. We bailed the bucket out a few times, and turned the water off again overnight.
Yesterday morning we finally got at it again. Because this valve was not quite the same length as the previous one, we had to add another short length of pipe below the valve. The joints to solder had certainly grown in number. We got the new piece of horizontal pipe cut, everything fitted together, and started soldering. It all worked fine except for a leak at the last joint we did. So heat it again to take that joint apart, clean all the old solder off (that is the hardest part) and try again. Thought it was working, but saw the pipe actually push apart. Then it dawned on us that there was a bit of residual water in that horizontal pipe, which had turned to steam and was blasting out through that last joint. Fortunately the pipe was only about a foot long, so we used a knitting needle to shove a narrow piece of rag down it numerous times to mop up all the water. Cleaned off the flipping pipe and inside the connector yet again (did I already say that was the worst part), and finally our last attempt worked. Of course a lot of it was in an awkward position. Working an inch from the ceiling gets hard on the shoulders. So what did we learn from this? Well first of all, make very sure that all the water is out of the pipe. It's easier to buy a new valve than try to clean all the solder out of the old one. Use heat and a cloth to wipe out the old solder before the final sanding if trying to reuse a fitting.
I don't think I'll add 'Plumber' to my resume just yet.