Monday, May 14, 2007

Broken Water Pipe in Chacala

As usual, you never know what’s going to happen next in Chacala. Especially with infrastructure issues. Like water and power and topes/speed bumbs.

For the last few days I had noticed some peculiar things going on with the water at this house. Little signs of impending doom, which I could have probably made sense of if I had focused on what was going on. But I am so tired of dealing with stupid water stuff at the house, that I just put it out of mind mind. Just another of the many Mysteries of Chacala.

This morning the tinacho, the roof water tank was empty. It seemed to have been full yesterday. At least I couldn’t hear the sounds the water makes when the tinacho is filling. When it’s quiet while the water is flowing into the tank, that generally means it’s full.However, in this case it meant there was a large leak in the line that leads from the street to the tinacho. Because the garden hose faucet is between the street and the tank, and the leak was after the facuet. I was still getting garden and patio water. But the tinacho was empty.
My ex-landlady/neighbor came over and we found where the leak was, under the cement right under the front edge of the house. We could see the water bubbling. We went back over to her house and tried to call someone who’s pretty good at plumbing stuff. But he was still out fishing, or at the muelle.

So I started walking down to my current landlady’s restaurant, to update her and get permisson to make repairs, etc. But I ran into Guillermo and his helper while I was walking along. They decided the worker would take a look. And we went back up to the house.

We broke away the cement and looked at the broken plastic tee. Some person in the past had a jammed a the sharp edge of a brick into the plastic pipe. I think the brick was for decorative purposes. A brick edging. But it finally broke the pipe. There had been symptoms for awhile. Mainly changes in the sound of the water flowing there. I can’t quite figure out where all the water went, but I think I made a channel underground, down to the street.

Anyway, I get down to Dona Lupe’s to get permission to arrange for repairs, and then back up to the house. Julio wentto get some pipe fittings and tools. Then I realized I had better fill the tinacho with the hose before the repairs started. Because he said you have to let the plastic glue dry overnight.

So I pieced together enough pieces of garden hose to reach from the garden spigot to to top of the tinaco. And then I went over and borrowed a ladder to climb up and stick the pipe into the top of the tinaco.My neighbor came back with me, helping me carry the ladder. Over my loud objections she climbed up the ladder with the hose and stuck it into the top of the tinaco. While another neighbor held the bottom of the ladder securely. Being older than most people around here has some advantages, but it feels funny to be "too old" to stuff I can do. And it feels good that people are willing to help me.I ran down to the street and turned the water on. And the tank started filling. It filled in about 45 minutes. Then I filled all my water containers on the patio, and went down and watered all the plants. Then I turned the water off. And emptied the water out of the hole where the leak is. And dug a hole out around the crack with my trowel.

When the worker came back we agreed we should each have lunch, and he would come back after lunch to work on replacing the cracked piece. I didn’t think he quite realized how difficult it going to be to replace the piece. But workers are really creative around here, so we’ll see.

Well, I think the worker DID now it might be hard to fix the line, because he didn't come back. About 5pm I was fooling around with pick, trying to figure how how to fix the pipe, when I saw my nice new Canadian neighbors walking up the road. He'sm, the man of the house, is known for being able to fix and build and create things. So I asked him how he thought I could repair the situation. He looked the setup over carefully, and explained exactly what to buy and how to fix the water line. And, of course, it was really simple. Even I could do it.

I walked over to the hardware place, and bought two elbows, a connector, a meter and a half of plastic pipe, some glue, and a hacksaw blade. 50 pesos. $4.50US. Went home and sawed off the broken elbow (two cuts). And then I cut the two two straight pieces to length. And sawed off the other piece of pipe. I did all five cuts with the hacksaw blade wrapped in a rag. It worked okay but it was hard to saw straight lines. Got all the piece in place, and got nervous about glueing the thing together.

So I went up and asked the neighbors to come back down and help me, which they were planning to do anyway, after a meeting with their builder. We toured their beautiful new house. Their builder, Martine, seems to be doing a really good job. And very quickly. I am very impressed.

Anyway, we went back to my place and he re-sawed a couple of my crooked cuts and glued everything together. The town water was off for the night, so the big test will be tomorrow morning. I am crossing my fingers for no leaks in the four new connections. It's an open system, with no pressure, so I am not expecting an leaks. But still...... It feels like this was a good day. I started to get tense and anxious feeling about the water situation, and then just relaxed and things worked out fine. At least I hope so. It there's no leaks I will cover the pipe with some cement to try to protect it from idle boots. I'll "borrow" the cement from the closest construction project.

At least I have a full tinacho of water, for toilet flushing and showering, so I am content for the moment.

No leaks, but the leak apparently wasn´t the real problem. Water still is still not getting up to the tinacho. The pipe is buried in cement under the house and up two stories, so who knows. I assumed there is a block somewhere. There is enough pressure for the garden hose to fill the tank, so I don´t think it´s a water pressure problem.

For now I arrange a section of house to be permenantly hanging from the tinacho down to the second floor, my floor. So I can connect up my garden hose and fill the tank. Plus I added a float thingie so I can tell how full the tank is. It´s okay for now and

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to hear about your water troubles and hope that a permanent solution has been found. Are the owners of rental properties in Chacala responsible for the cost of repairs when something like this happens? Just asking as I am considering renting there in the future. My email address is or you can answer here if you like.
Good luck!