Wednesday, November 16, 2011

They say we're mostly made of water. So how come we can't find the sea? (a.k.a. Well Done Broke part 10)

On Friday morning, after vacuuming out the underside of the tub, the wife and I made our grout bag. I used a heavy-duty contractor's garbage bag folded into what looked like a triangular piping bag shape and then reinforced with a layer of duct tape on the outside. It looked a lot like a wizard's hat, but my wife became annoyed with me when it told her she had been assigned to House Hufflepuff. We had too much going on for joking, and she always pictured herself more in Ravenclaw.

And since my morning shower had been a near trickle, I decided to at least investigate Dave's claim from earlier in the week that our filter might be at fault. I asked the wife to turn on the tap, then I switched our new filter onto its bypass setting. Instantly the water pressure returned to full force. It had been the filter.

Looking at it through the clear plastic housing, I could see that it was pretty grungy. I traded it out for a new one and our water remained at comfortable pressure. Dave had been right again.

Soon after, we gathered our mortar ingredients, including a bucket of water, cause Dave's impending arrival would likely see our water supply cut off for much of the day. Our plan was initially to do the mortaring before his arrival, so it could set up during the day. And maybe this was the better idea. But when Dave called with an ETA, I decided it would be better to wait until later. The tub would probably require both of us to work on it, and Dave would also need one of us to turn breaker switches on and off. No use fighting wars on two fronts, I said. The wife complained that if we didn't do the job now, we would manage not to get to it later. However, she was willing to defer to me on the matter.

Within an hour, Dave arrived in a truck the back of which contained a truly colossal water tank. We saw him pull in at the bottom of our driveway and the tank looked enormous from that distance. When he arrived at the top and we went out to meet him, it was far more intimidating.

"That's a big ass tank," I told him.

"Yep. A B.A.T. it is," he said.

There was some discussion about the ideal placement of the tank within the garage. I knew where I wanted it, but for a while it looked as though that wasn't going to be the most convenient place for the installation, due to it being some distance away from the existing well mechanics under the house. He wanted to place the tank in a more central location in the garage, which would mean a lot of rearranging and, also, having a tank in the middle of the back wall. Not terrible, but not ideal. The place I wanted it, however, was on the back side of our laundry room, which is built above a sub-crawlspace off of the main crawlspace that's terribly awkward to even get to, let alone enter and spend any amount of time within. I should know, I had to crawl in there to reattach the dryer hose to its outside vent. After a bit, though, Dave said he could see that we weren't going to be happy with it on the back wall and he would do what it took to put it where we needed it to be.

The readjusted plan for the big ass tank was to T into the existing water line from the well, run that through a spindown filter (which will collect the larger sediment from the well, saving the water filter from it) then the water will run into a standard water filter for the removal of smaller particles, then into the big ass water tank itself. From there the water would run via pipe to a smaller pressure pump which would send it into the house's water system via a T into the cold water input pipe for the hot water heater. A float switch within the big ass tank would automatically shut off the well pump ever time the tank filled to 500 gallons. Similarly, these systems would make the well's pump system stop pumping up water should the well run dry at any time during the process. If shut off in this manner, the pump would stay off for four hours, giving the well time to recharge around 48 gallons or so before it attempted to pump any more water into the tank. Once full, though, we would exist entirely off of the water in the big ass tank, supplemented by occasional refills from the well. In this way, we'll have a huge supply of water to use and, once full, won't ever have to tax our well. Meanwhile, if anything goes amiss, we have only to close one valve and we're back on our previous set up. Or, if we're ever without power for several days, we can run things off the 500 gallons of water pressure in the tank as well as having the ability to hook up a generator to it and still run the house. Sweet, no?

Dave and his assistant, Matt, started hooking things up. It was not a job without its problems, because the truck they had arrived with was not Dave's usual truck, which was stocked with all the parts he would need. That and some parts he did have, that arrived pre-faulty for our inconvenience, slowed things down. (Two of the pressure fit couplings came with their interior pressure fittings inserted backward, and our spin-down separator came sans filter.) Dave made the appropriate calls to arrange for replacements, but it appeared as though this would be a two day job because of the delays. Most of the initial work was to place the tank where we wanted it, and center it atop a thick layer of foam insulation. Soon enough, though, plumbing began and pump breakers were turned off and crawlspaces crawled into.

When it came to the job of crawling beneath our laundry room, I offered to be the guy to do that part of the job. From what I thought, it seemed like it would just involve me going in there and pulling pipe through a new hole in the block wall from the other side. None of the hookups to the existing plumbing would happen in there. But Dave declined the offer. I wish he hadn't, because as he drug himself across the earthen, plastic-covered floor of our crawlspace all the way over to the laundry room access gap, he gave off some pretty disturbing sounding moans of agony. It sounded like a guy with three broken ribs. The wife and I looked at each other in confusion and then sympathy for the man. Matt the assistant was having difficulty not cracking up, though, so we guessed this was normal. Eventually, though, I crawled beneath the house as well, if only so I could hear any requests for additional tools Dave might make, so he wouldn't have to crawl back for them. He spent quite a bit of time under the house, though, because even though he didn't have quite all the parts for the full tank install, he was able to wire and install the new control box for it all. By 7 p.m., he'd done all he could and left, vowing to return and finish the rest tomorrow.

(TO BE...)

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