What a drip!

The old basement is the heart of the plumbing in this house. It’s where all the pumps and tanks are, plus we have a couple of sets of taps; one for the laundry sink, and one for where the washing machined to be, and pipes with shut off valves leading to the taps outside.

Until the plumber added a shut off valve to the hot water tank, those were pretty much the only shut off valves in the system. Otherwise, there is a main shut off valve at the well pump that shuts water off to the entire house.

One of the things my brother did was install a pool filter to the septic pump system. It has a filter basket that catches larger bits before they get into the pump and sent on to the outflow. It has to be cleaned out every now and then, so he got an extra basket, so one can be quickly switched out for the other, and the pump can be back in action right away, rather than having to stay off while the filter basket gets cleaned. Which is a big deal, since it basically turns black and needs time to soak in a detergent solution after the grit and odd bits of straw that fell into the tank while it was being emptied are cleaned out.

Handily, the laundry sink is right there, and that’s where I wash out the filter basket.

It is also where we shock our hot water tank with hydrogen peroxide every now and then, when the water develops a rotten egg smell. This is done using siphon action by attaching a short hose to the tap. After shutting water off to the hot water tank, then allowing it to drain until the vacuum created prevents more water from draining out, we can put the hose end into a container of hydrogen peroxide, turn on the hot water tap, and the peroxide gets sucked into the hot water tank. Unfortunately, the threads on the hot water tap are damaged, so instead of being able to screw on a short length of hose directly to the tap, we’ve had to use Gorilla tape and a length of aquarium hose. It doesn’t seal as well, but it works.

Those are pretty much the only times that sink gets used.

When I’d switched out the filter baskets at the septic pump, I noticed that the hot water tap had developed a drip. I have no idea how long it’s been dripping, but as I used the hot water to do a rough clean on the filter basket, then set it in a container to soak, it started to drop more. Last night, I switched out the soaking water, and the slow drip because a fast drip.

We already needed to replace both the hot and cold water taps, but until now, that wasn’t much of a priority.

Here, you can see the hot water tap, with the tape holding the bit of aquarium hose. The cold water tap has a length of hose screwed on – without the hose, the water sprays all over. The piece of hose across both taps is what I’d tried to screw onto the hot water tap, only to discover the threads were damaged.

This morning, I headed into town to hit the hardware store, just as it opened. After showing the photo to one of the staff, he found the right size replacement taps for me (I plan to take advantage of the situation and replace both taps). Unfortunately, these taps are soldered on. Which means, to change them out, I need to heat them with a torch, remove the taps, clean the pipes, then solder on the replacement taps.

We don’t have the tools to do that. Even if I wanted to cut the old tap off and put a new one on the remaining length of pipe, I’d still need a soldering gun – and I don’t want to shorten the distance of the taps over the sink, anyhow.

Of course, there are no shut off valves between these taps and the pumps. To work on it means, at the very least, shutting off the water to the hot water tank. To work on the cold water tap means shutting off water to the entire house.

So I picked up a couple of Shark Bite shut off valves.

We have what we need to cut pipe, so we can install the shut off valves ourselves. That will allow us to shut water off to the taps and stop the drip, until we can replace the taps themselves.

I’ve already been able to talk to my brother about this, as he has the tools needed to replace the taps. As for the shut off valves, he had it in his mind to install them in the vertical pipes leading to the taps, but I am thinking of installing them in the horizontal pipes running along the ceiling, so that they will shut off water to the other set of taps as well. Those have never been used since the washing machine was moved upstairs, but considering how old they are, I can see needing to replace them in the future, too.

My daughters are still on “night shift”, though, so I don’t want to start any of this until after they’ve gotten up and had their showers. For now, I just want to install the shut off valve on the hot water pipe, but – as unlikely as it is – if something goes wrong during the install, we wouldn’t be able to turn the hot water back on until it’s fixed, and who knows how long that would be. It’s really a simple job, but I know how easily simple jobs can become major problems, in this place!! Hope for the best, plan for the worst!

One of the considerations for installing the shut off valves; unless we cut out about 3 inches of pipe, they will add to the length of the pipe. That would mean the taps would need to be shifted over by the same distance. Which I wouldn’t have a problem doing, except that parts of the copper pipe have been painted over.

Including the clamps and screws holding the pipes in place. Which is going to make loosening the screws a pain in the butt!


Still, it needs to be done, regardless. We’ve had issues with a loud noise that would start after the well pump kicks in to refill the pressure tank. It is very loud, and I can actually feel the floor vibrating under my feet when I am at my computer. It rather freaked me out because, at first, I thought the noise was coming from the well pump, and we’re already on borrowed time with that thing. Eventually, I was able to trace the noise to the pipes. The pipes run under the exposed floor joists, and have a mishmash of supports attached to the joists, holding them in place. In a couple of spots, there is a pipe that has a 90 degree turn and runs under the pipe it had been parallel to. One of those spots is the hot water pipe that runs from the hot water tank to the laundry sink. What seems to have happened is that, as the house has shifted, those pipes no longer have any sort of gap between them. When the pump starts running, it causes vibrations in the pipes, and with these two pipes now hard against each other, that results in the noise and vibrations I can actually feel in my feet. Right now, the vertical pipes are clamped so tight against the wall – with painted over screws – that there is no give at all. So while we are working on the taps and valves, I want to see if I can adjust the hot water pipe downwards a bit, so that they are no longer touching. Hopefully, I’m right that this is the cause of the noise, and it will stop.

If it doesn’t, and we still get the noise in this location, I’m at a loss as to what else the cause might be!

So we’ve got our work cut out for us this afternoon, just to be able to stop the drip until we can replace the tap itself. Once that’s done, there is no longer any sort of urgency.

The Re-Farmer

8 thoughts on “What a drip!

  1. I only scanned this but want to share that I had one of those blue handle valves installed when the prior handle on the water main broke. It’s been years but I’m now afraid to turn the handle as it’s clearly going to break. The round knobs are more difficult to use but have better durability.

    Liked by 1 person

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