Monday, May 4, 2009

Farm plumbing

Andrea was tearing around on the tractor yesterday and ran over one of the lawn hydrants. So I got to do a bit of remedial plumbing.

The lawn hydrant got bent in the center before the fitting at the pipe broke, about 3' under the surface. So I got to dig.

The nice thing is that I know exactly where the break is, the bad thing is that the water table is pretty high. So as I dig I'm getting an increasing amount of water. Drat.

So I have to dig an L shaped hole so I can get a bucket down lower than the pipe to bail the hole. So this is dig dig bail dig dig bail and so on . Wet sticky mud is hard to shovel. Wish I had a backhoe on my tractor.
Since the water shutoff is more than 1500' from this particular hydrant, and since there's some chance that it'll happen again, I decide to remove the old T fitting (seen at the top of the picture, above) and replace it with a T fitting and a shutoff valve. So I assemble the valve, measure it, and then cut the pipe in the hole to the correct length. If the hydrant leaks this means I can turn the water off right in the hole, which will be handle. Downstream from this hydrant are the outlets for the farrowing barn and greenhouse, so having a shutoff valve for a portion of the property will probably be handy.
Notice that I use two clamps on each barb fitting -- because I never want to see this fitting again, and it's pretty expensive to have a water leak. They're hard to find. Two clamps gives you some insurance. Each clamp is oriented opposite from the other. I also have wrapped the threads in teflon tape -- more insurance against leaks. Finally the whole thing is as tight as I can get it.

These blocks are to keep the hole open so I can access the shutoff valve. This is the cheapest way I've found to make a relatively stable hole. I've tried cutting the bottom off 5 gallon buckets and stacking them and they get crushed eventually. The first two blocks are on either side of the pipe -- so that if the blocks themselves get run over in the future they won't cut the pipe until they're depressed at least 8".

Pouring rain and wind while I was doing this today. Joy of farming.


Nels said...

Sounds like a lot of fun... The rain sure has been pourin' lately

Anonymous said...

I like the idea of using blocks to keep the hole open, but doesn't the open hole invite freezing air to reach the plumbing? I thought the idea of burying the pipe deep was to get it below the frost line and therefore freeze-proof.

Bruce King said...

The water table is pretty high; about 12" below the ground level. So the hole fills with water about 30" deep. Don't have to worry about it freezing. It's kinda cold and slimy to reach the cutoff valve though.