It was bad enough that the hole had steamy, brown-grey water in the bottom in the near 100°F temperatures. There were wasps using it for their watering hole, too. What was wrong with where they had been getting water before?! All the joy I had felt at having successfully pieced together the necessary section of pipe dissipated rapidly. However, I had an irrational desire to follow through with my learning experience, and water my acre, that was just sufficient to overcome my horror of the mud pit.
After my husband had come home, he had shown me how to put teflon pipe tape over the threads of the drain valve adapter and where part of the metal union joint would go on. That tape is slick and hard to get started! I was informed that it should be wound in the same direction as the threads, so it wouldn’t unscrew when attaching the other piece of pipe. The last step before the mud pit, was to put the rubber gasket on the end of the upper, PVC union joint. That was nicely easy.
I stepped down into the murky water with a sense of being put in solitary confinement. Except that my husband was right at the rim, smiling and offering me kind words of instruction. I’m obviously a wimp. He said it would be best to attach the metal union first, since the PVC union had more give to it. This may sound straightforward, but you have to realize that I am perpetually confused about which way to screw things on. I can be working the wrench, then need to move it so that the handle goes another way, and I can’t remember which way is on or off. Have me step up out of the hole to fetch something, then back down, I am again disoriented. It’s hard to make progress getting anything tightened with this going on.
Part of the problem is that just this past spring I was introduced to the concept of a “turnbuckle.” My mind hasn’t been the same since. The idea of the “union” is the same only… different. And if I have to screw one side of the union on in a certain direction (I’m told it’s counterclockwise), somehow, when I face the other way to screw the other side of the union on, my reasoning abilities are stuck somewhere between a turnbuckle and an alternate universe. It is hard to retrieve me from that state of mind.
And I’m not all that impressed with pipe wrenches. Usually I come away from using a new tool with a sense of awe. There is definitely room for improvement with pipe wrenches. Someone, please? Who is the Bill Gates of pipe wrenches? For some reason, all this plumbing seemed to require two pipe wrenches on a regular basis. So, there you have me, already directionally challenged, trying to put pressure on two wrenches in opposite directions. I am not ready to fly solo.
The PVC union might have more give in it to be able to pull everything together, but it was temperamental about getting it’s threads on straight. After several attempts at screwing and unscrewing, and trying to see what my husband was saying about, “Can you see how the threads don’t look quite right?” I finally found the angle to hold the upper pipe at so that it went on like there had never been a problem.
Unfortunately, there was a leak when we turned everything on. It wasn’t the same leak, which is good. I hadn’t broken any PVC with all my random twisting efforts. My husband said, “Hmmm, we probably should have put some teflon tape on one other threaded section of the metal union.” He was willing to let me undo everything and try again myself, but I thought of the fishing trip that he was all dressed for. If he waited for me to do it alone, he might not be available for fishing until midnight. Without straining his injured arm, he once again demonstrated that he, with one arm, is still pretty spectacular.
Now, I have water to my yard and I know a lot more about irrigation plumbing. There is nothing quite like a hands-on lesson, while the yard wilts, to help remember things. We left the hole open (it is fenced off) so that we can observe the pipes for a few days before filling things back in. This being the third year that the hole has had to be dug for different problems, we may decide to do something to maintain easier access to the pipes. Meanwhile, I find myself subconsciously practicing in my mind which direction to screw and unscrew things. Even there, I’m doing it backwards half the time, but maybe I’ll get better at it.