DIY Home Renovation–the plumbing |For what it's worth

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DIY Home Renovation–the plumbing

When you purchase an old home that has been sitting vacant for many years you expect lots of problems.  We tackled the biggest electric problems in the 1956 Fixer Upper first and moved to the plumbing.  The city inspectors insured us the water is fine on their side of the water meter.  Isn’t that always the story?  They did help out by digging up their meter to be absolutely sure and what they found is that the pipe exiting the meter on our side appeared to be corroded and barely any space inside the pipe for water to flow.  They also noted a 90 degree turn in the pipe probably wasn’t helping.  That would explain the tiny trickle of water coming out of the faucets.  Fortunately for us our son worked several years for a city water supply and has a great deal of knowledge about laying new pipe.  I contacted the 411 Dig people to mark the various underground wires and pipes so we wouldn’t add to our problems by an accidental cutting of gas pipes or cable wires.
Texas sunset
DIY Home Renovation, plumbing, trenching, water supply lines
We made a 45 mile trip to a larger town where we rented a trencher and began the task of putting in new pipes to the house.  Once we located the turn on valve at the house the trenching began.  It took most of the day slowly inching across the expanse of our front yard two feet deep.  There is a well built concrete flower bed border along the front fence that had to be dug under to reach the city meter.  The dirt here is really HARD!  

Once the trench was created the 1 1/2" PVC pipes were laid out along the trench.  Each was fit together using PVC connectors, a pipe cleaning solution and plumbers glue.  The day progressed and by the time I enjoyed a beautiful Texas plains sunset, we had water running in the house.
My son instructed me to turn on all the faucets in the house starting at the opposite end.  I went to bathroom number 3 and turned on the shower then tried to turn on the faucet.  It is a weird old faucet with instructions on the end of the faucet nozzle that says “pull on” and “push off”.   I pulled…nothing.   I pulled again…nothing.  I pushed and pulled a third time and POP… the nozzle came off in my hand and water sprayed full force in my face.  It was like a scene I have seen on prank shows.  Squeezing my eyes shut, gasping for air,pull on I tried desperately to push the nozzle back in place.  The force of the water made it very hard so I shielded my face deflecting the water as best I could and tried to turn it off under the sink.  I couldn’t reach the right handle so I went back to pushing the nozzle back on.  I finally got it back in place and went through the house completing my task of turning on all the water outlets.  Hubs and my son doubled over in laughter when I emerged like a drenched rat explaining what happened.
Several visits from the plumber cleaning out the water heater and relighting the gas pilot later, I enjoyed a long shower.  By the way, we are getting to know the plumber pretty well.  Two days of glorious water pressure later, the sewer started backing up.  First, in bath #3, the potty didn’t want to flush, then we tried to use the washing machine for the first time and discovered an extra large load uses about 20 gallons of water.  We know that because after sweeping and vacuuming out the first load, hubs fiddled with the drain and tried again which flooded the laundry room again.  The third try was a smaller load that he manually drained the water into buckets and finally ran a hose out the window.  What a site that was.  Meanwhile we called the plumber because the 2nd bath didn’t want to drain either- and the kitchen sink drain slowed waaaaaaay down.  The plumber spent three days clearing pipes in every room with plumbing even working through the vent pipe located on the roof.  The wash room was extremely difficult but using yet another kind of rotor rooter, he finally got it cleared and working.  He just left again today because the AC unit is located inside a closet and the condensation line was leaking all over the floor.  Geesh. I invited him to Thanksgiving dinner. I’ll tell you how he fixed the AC tomorrow.


  1. Oh boy, all that must been hard! Hope you won't get any unhoped surprises!

  2. Oh my! That's terrible, Jeannie. I guess it can't be helped with an old house, but still, it's unfortunate that such issues are present, especially when you were out to experience a new adventure. I hope everything has been solved by now, though. Your son offered really helpful advice regarding plumbing. All the best! :)

    Traci Romero @ Harris Plumbing


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