Sunday, May 13, 2012

What's That Hissing Sound?

Last night as we were going to bed, completely exhausted, I passed the bedroom closet and heard a strange "PSSSSSSSSS" sound.  I mentioned it to Bob knowing that he would not be able to hear it - he has tinnitus and it really messes with his hearing. In my heart I knew that whatever it was, it was not good. I just wanted to go to bed.
  So first he threw out all the stuff in the closet blocking the way to the water tank and then he removed the drywall to get to the hot water heater. Upon inspection my husband found a small pinhole leak in the copper flexible pipe that attaches the hot water heater to the PVC plumbing installed in the trailer.
This occurs quite commonly, so if this were to happen to you, here's what you do. (Until last night I would have been clueless! Thank God for husbands who know and can fix these things!)

If you determine that your hot water tank has a leak, it cannot be fixed while the tank is pressurized, so the first step would be to turn off the ball valve that supplies the house with water. This is found out by your pressure tank and your well pump. Of course, this is in the country.  In the city you would have city water and a supply valve / water meter that could be turned off.

In the country, having a valve to isolate your home's water system is invaluable. It is something you should have installed if you don't have one now. The valve allows you to isolate the house from the hoses and the pump which gives you the ability to care for your animals while you work on the water supply in your house.
  This type of leak happens more often in the country due to pure water from the aquafer.  Because there is little to no calcium or metals in the water, the metals in the pipes leach slowly into the water system. It is in such small amounts that it doesn't affect the water. Erosion occurs evenly on the inside of the pipes so the thinnest part of the pipe will be worn away first and cause a pinhole. In the city, the particulate matter is very high and there is a constant buildup of calcification and metal on the inside of the pipes so erosion does not occur.
Picture a clogged artery after 20 years of buildup.

After the water is turned off, turn on the bathtub spigot to release the water pressure in the tank.

Use a pipe thread sealer or teflon tape to attach all your pipe fittings to prevent leaking.
Most standard hot water heaters use 3/4 inch threaded pipe.

 Assemble the fittings

and attach the replacement flexible pipe (of the proper length) to the hot water heater.

Tighten well.

If the parts assemble properly then you're ready to cut the old pipe away. Up until this point you can always reattach the old pipe if something on your new assembly goes wrong, such as: cross threads, stripped threads, poor casting, wrong size, etc. etc. Use PVC cutters to cut the plastic house plumbing pipe. This leaves a clean, straight cut for the attachment of the assembly which will prevent leaks later.

Slide the adapter onto the plastic pipe.

I have not attached the the hose to the hot water heater (as I instructed above) so that you can see the attachment of the pipe more clearly. It is a slip on fitting - very ingenious in design. It uses O-Rings and some teeth to bite into the plastic pipe to make a perfect fitting every time using no tools - hence the name "Shark Bite".

You should now be ready to turn the water back on.

Note: This is not a typical Mother's Day post, but emergencies like these almost always happen during holidays, late at night, or during times that the appropriate hardware store / professional are unavailable. It's nice to know you can do it yourself.

Have a wonderful Mother's Day!

1 comment:

  1. He is a gift from heaven for you. :) Happy Mother's Day, and thank G-d for water in the house again! :)