Helen woke me up out of a sound sleep a couple of nights ago screaming that a pipe had burst in the garage. It is NOT my preferred way to wake up. As it was, I was in a REALLY deep sleep and waking up was like rising out of the depths until I could actually understand what was being said.
We have water-to-air heat pumps (two), one for each side of the house. Now they are called geothermal heat pumps and they have been very efficient and have given us excellent service. Our heating and air conditioning bill is significantly lower than our friend who have a conventional system. In the summer, most systems have to cool the outside fins with air 95 degrees or higher. We cool with 73 degree water which is much more efficient. In the winter, the typical heat pump is trying to take heat out of cold air, quitting around 45 degrees when the very expensive resistance heater turns on. Our pumps get the heat from the same 73 degree water and neither pump has a back up resistance heat source. Many of our contemporaries have already replaced their A/C units due to the degradation of the outside unit. We have nothing outside and our system has not given us any trouble until now.
I have to confess that the source of our problem is due to a poor job I did when I installed the plumbing. Of course the first thing I had to do was stop the flow of water and I was almost able to do that by closing a valve. That slowed the leak to a slow but steady drip. When I looked at the fitting that had failed, I found that instead of engaging the PVC fittings all the way, in this case the connection was only a quarter inch. ME BAD!!!!
So, I made a visit to my local Lowe’s and procured the fittings and cement needed to repair the job. Fortunately, yesterday was a cool rainy day and the rear A/C unit was able to all our cooling needs. That was good because I was never able to get it fixed yesterday. I still had a little leak where a threaded PVC fitting mated with a brass valve. Giving up at last, I quit for the night.
First thing this morning I was back at Lowe's for more supplies. I decided to replace ALL the fittings and be done with it. Cut, fit, cement, fit, cut, fit, cement, fit. Soon I was done and all I had to do was give it time to set up before I opened the vale to pressurize the system. When the time finally came, I opened the valve, and I had THAT SAME LITTLE LEAK!!!!!
NOW I’M FURIOUS, and make ANOTHER trip to Lowe’s. This time, I also buy PVC unions so I will NOT have to hacksaw the parts apart again. I bought couplings by the bag, I bought elbows by the bag, and I bought more than enough unions. I also bought another valve to put in the line so I can isolate pressure before it gets to where I’m working. It works! There is no water leaking by and I can take my time and ensure perfection. I CAREFULLY assembled the whole thing and then went to my reading chair and finished a book I was reading, giving the system PLENTY of time to set.
After about an hour and a half, I opened the valves and voila……..there was still that damn little leak in the same damn spot!!!! Well, it was only a very small leak and the house is a bit warm as it’s not cool today as it was yesterday, so I figured that I’d run the air conditioning in the main side of the house and cool it off before I take it apart AGAIN. So I set up a container to catch the drip and let the A/C run for a while as I caught up with my daily on-line crossword and my email. SUDDENLY, Helen rushed in to tell me that the pipe has broken again and this time it had been broken for a spell before she found it because when I hit the button to open the garage door, it looked like a waterfall as the water flowed onto the driveway. At least I had that new emergency shut off valve and THAT worked perfectly.As I sit here writing, the system has NOT been fixed. I DO NOT have the patience to attend to the plumbing today and I’m going to make Helen take me out someplace to eat, Italian I hope. If I go back out there to work on those pipes again today, it will be with a sledge hammer and not a hacksaw and cement. And do you know what is really funny????? We can’t help but think how LUCKY we are!!!!! It is a royal pain, to be sure, but this could have happened a few weeks from now when we were on our vacation to Mexico. Can you imagine getting an email from a neighbor to tell us that water is cascading out from the garage and down the driveway? There, I’ve vented and put things in perspective. I WILL do better tomorrow.