Friday, October 12, 2012

Plumbing From the Outside

Back when we first moved into our new place, I set up my daughters swimming pool and went to fill it from the outside spigot by the walkout doors of our basement. I heard the water running but nothing was coming out the end of the hose and investigation showed that instead it was pouring out the side of my house about a foot off the ground. I had a busted spigot.

Normally replacing an outdoor spigot is a easy affair and I have done it a couple times over the course of my life but this one was much harder. Instead of the extension running through the wall into the interior of the house where the heat keeps it from freezing, it runs parallel between the siding and the fireplace brick on the inside of the wall. The only way to access the spigot was to rip off the siding of the house, the sheathing and any insulation in the way.

I have put the project off for nearly two months because I knew what it would involve. It would involve several trips to the hardware store because I wouldn't get everything I needed the first time along with dozens of trips up and around the house to the garage to ferry needed tools back and forth. Plus since I have copper piping, I was going to have to learn how to solder, something I had never done before.

With the recent bout of cold weather, I decided that I needed to get the spigot replaced before winter because I suspected that the water that had wetted the inside of the wall cavity had destroyed the insulation and leaving the copper pipe behind the valve joint vulnerable to rupturing. When the latter ruptures, the water to the house would have to be shut off until the problem was fixed and that is not something I wanted to do when the weather was below freezing.

So on Tuesday, I started right in on the project by removing the bottom two courses of the masonite siding which was pretty easy since it was rotted out from the water damage. Behind that was old felt board which is about the most useless stuff ever designed in my opinion. It too was rotted out from previous water damage. I didn't have to worry about any insulation because the water had caused it to disintegrate into a pile of dust at the bottom of the cavity. The spigot has split the pipe about two inches ahead of the valve seat.

I went to the local hardware store and got everything I thought I needed to complete the project. As it turned out, I turned in a stellar performance because I didn't have to make any other trips to finish. With my newly purchased compact copper tube cutter, I soon had the old ruptured spigot removed and the new one in place with fluxed copper tubing and fittings in place. Soldering copper tubing turned out to be remarkably easy and I soon had the joints soldered and the water turned back on. No leaks.

I had about two feet of three different stud bays exposed and put new insulation in the two bays that didn't contain the spigot. I wasn't sure what to do about the bay with the spigot. I could see by the numerous splices to the copper tubing and the patch in the sheathing that it had been repaired at least twice before. Obviously the installation wasn't ideal which makes keeping it warm enough to prevent freezing a challenge. The actual spigot was only about an inch behind the sheathing meaning any fiberglass bat insulation would be compressed or very thin at best. So I decided to try something else. I put on the sheathing and then filled up the cavity with expanding foam. I hope that it surrounds the pipe better providing better insulation.

Since I don't plan to leave any hoses hooked up to the spigot through the winter which is the most common cause of spigots splitting, I don't think it would freeze. Never the less, once I find where the pipe enters into the house, I plan on adding a valve someplace handy so that I can shut off the water to the spigot and drain the line completely every winter. My only problem is that most of the basement ceiling where the pipe is located is dry walled. I've already removed quite a bit of it that had sustained water damage over the years from leaks, some of which had black mold on it. I plan to replace it with removable ceiling tiles in the future so if a leak should occur, I can replace the damaged tile with a new one and prevent any new mold from growing. But what I have removed has not contained a pipe. I need to do some more exploring yet to find it.

Since I plan on replacing the siding in the next couple years, I didn't add any wrap since there wasn't any wrap on the rest of the house anyway. I resided the area with primed hardboard since they don't make masonite anymore and caulked the whole works well. The next warmish sunny day I get, I need to go get some paint to cover my patch and probably to repaint the garage door which I patched up a couple weeks ago too.  All told, I made my dozen trips around the house to the garage to get various tools and to cut sheathing and siding to size but I only made one trip to the store. It wasn't quite as bad a chore as I thought it might be and it done for the year.

My list of outside work needing done before the snow flies is now down to the before mentioned painting and the removal of about a dozen dead trees on our property. I have helped lined up for Thursday to tackle the latter job so by the time you read this post, I will probably be ready for the snow to fly!


sage said...

To only have to make one trip to the hardware store is a dream job! Good work.

Ed said...

Sage - Nothing makes me procrastinate more than plumbing jobs because it always seems like I have to make multiple trips to get the right fittings. On my one trip this time, I did pick up some extra common fittings for 1/2" copper pipe so that I can do some basic stuff without even going to the store. The challenge will be putting those fittings somewhere where I can find them when the time comes!

Ron said...

I did a lot of sweat soldering in our old house. Eventually, I started buying the big packs of connectors anytime I needed something in order to save myself a lot of trips back and forth. There's nothing worse than having to go back to the store for a $0.39 part on a busy weekend...

roaringforties said...

(chuckle) I've lost the brass head of a snap-on garden hosepipe whilst trying to shift muck from the kitchen waste pipe, in the pipe. I was getting the very last of the gunk. Well hopefully I'll get the winter out of it before I'll need to hire a kango and disks to hack my way down to it.
To be honest you'd be better off crimping it off the tap someplace inside and run your own. Save the very world of fuss that way.

Woody said...

I hate plumbing. Except to use it.