Sunday, February 12, 2012

Plumbing Repairs

As most of you know, our house here on the Saros shore was built as a summer cottage. As there is little interest in summer cottages/houses in the winter, they tend to be hastily and sloppily constructed (there isn't a square wall in the place), poorly insulated (if at all), and the water and septic systems are often exposed to the elements.

This is perfectly reasonable as the summer time temps are in the mid 30s and the winter time lows rarely dip below freezing for more than a few days through the winter. This winter is often being described as colder than normal. There have been almost 3 weeks of below freezing temps here on the seashore. Add the North West wind and sloppy construction, the house is miserably cold when the wind blows across the water toward all the windows pointed toward the beautiful view.

Another nuance is that as a beachfront house, there is an outdoor shower so bathers can rinse off before coming back indoors. North American plumbing methods would allow for isolation and draining of the riser to the shower head during the fall and winter. As this is a summer house, there is no isolation valve, and there is no provision for frost prevention on the shower riser.

We had to return to Canada for a family emergency in January leaving the house vacant during the first and second week in January. Apparently, there was a cold snap while we were gone. I didn't think to turn off the water while we were gone. When I got back, I soon noticed there was no water in the house. Over the next few hours, I figured out why. The shower riser had frozen and burst. When the weather turned warmer, the piping thawed and water was spurting out the +/- 1/8" hole in the side of the plastic pipe below the valve. One of the neighbors had come into the yard and shut the water off to the whole house, thus stopping the leaking water. I removed the damaged part and installed a valve on top of the galvanized steel riser pipe to temporarily restore water service to the house.

As soon as I could, I got the burst pipe repaired at the local plumbing shop (with the help of a local translator) and replaced it thinking that having the plastic as a weak point would protect the steel riser which runs through the concrete fence and disappears below some paving tiles.

A couple weeks later, it turned cold again. The pipe burst and the repaired plastic section burst in the same place. During the process of getting the first one fixed, I found a plastic fuser machine for the plumbing fittings. For a mere 105 NTL (60$CAD), I got the machine and enough fittings to practice on ‘till I had made a replacement and 3 spares.

The pipe is interesting stuff. From the ISO number, 15874-2, printed on the side, it is, apparently polypropylene, something I've never worked with before. It has a relatively low melting/fusing point. The spec off the pipe says it is a FIRAT THERM BORU (white pipe) capable of 25 bar (350 psi) at 20C, 8.5 bar (123 psi) at 70 C for 50 years, yet it fuses at a heat setting of 250 (C?) Joints are a pin and socket type with a significant interference. The pin end seems to slide into the socket 3/8" or so to make the fused joint. A relatively quick process. After preheating the fuser machine, each joint takes a minute or less for 1/2" nominal pipe.

A neat exercise and not exorbitantly expensive. I did miss my shop though. It's just not the same working on the kitchen counter.

 The Ruptured Assembly
 The Replacements in Progress
 The Fuser Machine
 A Couple of the Spares
 The Outdoor Shower Fixed

No comments:

Post a Comment