September 26, 2013

It really started out pretty innocently: ahead of the guys coming on Monday to plant the new palms I wanted to test out my station 5 and 6 lines to make sure there were no links to ward off any added costs if the planting crew found leaks or needed to make watering adjustments. (I knew they were approved by the town for a Monday dig because some guy wearing a hard hat and armed with some spray paint cans painted heiroglyphics in orange, red, and yellow all around my front yard – you definitely get your $20 digging fee’s worth here in Gilbert, Arizona!)

I put station 5 on for fifteen minutes and checked the area out – everything seemed solid. I did the same thing to station 6 and checked the area out – very dry. So far, so good. It was then I noticed water coming out along the bricks lining the grass area smack dab in the center of the backyard. I’d seen water there before but had always figured it was because after running station 5 for an extended time (to water our center queen palm), the station 6 lines watering adjacent bushes created saturation that resulted in some excess water.

But when I saw the station 6 water after only ten minutes of running station 5 I knew I had another leak. Hence a repeat of activities I’ve become all too familiar with these past two weeks: rake the rocks that cover the dirt, get my shovel and spade out and carefully scrape the wet dirt away from the problem area until you see water moving, use hands to carefully part the mud until you see the source of the leak, then (hopefully) plug it with a replacement drip.

I knew I was in trouble as soon as I found the source of the leak: an open drip line that disappeared under the red yucca it was supposed to water. And there wasn’t a whole lot of line to play with: about three inches worth. I was pissed. I mean, who in their right mind would plant anything on top of a drip line? I mean, that’s stupid! Whoever did that ought to be sampling Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s new vegetarian menu for inmates at Maricopa County lockups.

Studying the situation carefully, I knew there were only three options available to me: 1) try and cap the line that was available to me; 2) dig the whole plant and the line up, then cap it; or 3) dig around the plant, hopefully find the line exiting on the other side, then pull the line out and cap it. Option three seemed the easiest, since I could see the direction the line went, but after 40 minutes of careful digging and root pruning I still couldn’t find the damned line. I then attempted option one (putting a replacement drip on the line I had to work with) but the line is an older style with an opening too small to take the newer-sized drips. I tried using a small screwdriver to pry open a larger opening that the new drip styles would fit, but the line developed a new leak about an inch of the way in.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, around thus time, a dust storm rolled into the area, leaving me with rocks spread everywhere, deep holes around the yucca, and dust blowing everywhere. I decided to snap a picture of the seemingly hopeless situation for posterity:

My last chance of avoiding having to dig up the plant – something I really wanted to avoid – was to clamp the leak without a cap. What I needed to do was fold the remaining line over itself, hope the brittle line didn’t split (leaving me nothing to work with), and fashion some kind of clamp that would stem the leak. I grabbed a couple of twist ties from the kitchen, folded the line over itself, and fastened the twist ties to hold it in place. Turning station 6 on, I was grateful to see that the line wasn’t leaking. Now, what to do about a permanent solution? After all, in the ground and subject to dampness and roots that twist tie would probably all of a few months, and I doubt even the ground around it would hold the fold-over in place.

I then thought about the Discovery Channel show “Trauma: Life In The ER”. It was a great show where you always saw trauma surgeons thinking outside the box. Surely, I could rig up something that would serve as a reliable clamp. I went to the garage looking for something that would slide over the folded line and hold it in place, and that’s when I saw the picture-hanging kit with that doohickey you nail into the wall in order to lay the hanging wire into the groove. Studying it in the dusty light I knew I could make it work. I basically pulled the piece apart so it was just a circle of metal, placed it around the folded over line, then used pliers to clamp it shut. I felt like a ER surgeon taking emergency measure to stop a patient’s bleeding.

I turned on the water again and was pleased to see the solution work – no water at all! And I just saved himself around $200 worth of landscaping service costs – even better! I then wrapped some duct tape around it so it would stand out if someone dug around that area again, then peeled off my muddy clothes and dove into 80-degree pool water to scrub the mud off of my skin. It was refreshing, just barely. Pool season is very close to being over!

So that’s three leaks fixed in the course of a week’s time. All I can say is, my water bill better be lower next month than it was last month! At least then there would be some satisfaction in knowing our house is using precious water resources as efficiently as possible. But excuse me for being sick and tired of seeing rocks and dirt being moved around.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 21:31 | Comments (2)
  1. at least you are not replacing rabbit chewed up baseboards in an apartment.

    Comment by jana — September 27, 2013 @ 5:09 am

  2. Been there, done that!

    Comment by The Great White Shank — September 28, 2013 @ 3:41 am

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