Two weekends ago we had serious chaos going on in the house. We planned to work on financial paperwork and ended up spending the entire weekend and part of the week dealing with blown sprinkler valves. We did learn a lot about plumbing along the way.
We've always had leaking sprinklers here and there. Truthfully we didn't think much of it. We've had bigger fish to fry with this house. Then D noticed one of the sprinkler valves was really leaking. He mentioned the leak a few times. I think he was hoping I'd fix it but plumbing and electrical are not my thing. I fear both. He finally went out and bought new valves and fixed it all......or so we thought.
Then the Saturday before last I heard a loud boom and water gushing but I thought it was D playing with P in the backyard. D ran annoyed through the house to turn off the water at the street. A valve blew. This happened two more times. To make a long story short the problem went from leaky valve to water pressure problem from street. D bought a regulator but we couldn't get it to regulate the pressure. Because we are novices at this we weren't sure if we had the gauge on the right spicket, or if we had installed the regulator incorrectly or if there was another issue all together.
In the mean time we couldn't turn on the house water. If we did without running the sprinklers, a specific combination of sprinklers, the same valves blew. We couldn't find a valve that shut off just the exterior sprinkler lines. Plus even if we could find it, our other concern was that the entire house had too much water pressure. Our water heater is in the center of the house. If it blows we're screwed. So we had the water turned off from Saturday until Tuesday! Thank God for neighbors!
We started off confident that we could fix this problem ourselves. Then it got to the point where we should have called a plumber but it would have been admitting defeat so we pressed on. Finally, Sunday late afternoon we were faced with the fact that we were smelly, dirty and D had to be at work the following morning. We decided we needed to call a plumber.
Then, of course, we couldn't find a plumber. We called three and no call backs by Monday at 10am. Finally got a hold of one. He was an hour late by the time I started making calls at 3pm. Finally got a hold of the plumber we really wanted. He showed up Tuesday at 8:30am and I was relieved! He was phenomenal.
Every project in this house comes with a "mystery factor". The contractor who did the remodel a while back was not too wise. We base our assumption on the concrete evidence he left behind. Whether it's wiring, plumbing, painting or tile work nothing was done to code or to the standard of the building industry. This project was no different.
The sprinkler system that was laid down during the remodel had a shut off valve but it was buried deep beside a water spicket near the front door. Shut off valves and regulators are not suppose to be below or near the ground. To avoid corrosion, and to be within code, they are placed a good 10-12" above ground with the pipes going up and back down in a square "U" shape. Both the sprinklers and house should have their own regulators. The house had one but the exterior water pipe had none. And lastly, the front bathroom which is just off to the right of the front door is connected to the main interior house water line except for the cold water faucet in the sink. That one faucet is on it's own separate line piped in before the regulator and with no shut off valve. Brilliant!
Here are the things I learned from the experience and the plumber:
- A water regulator must be changed or cleaned/serviced once a year.
- To get an accurate water reading you must turn off all faucets, etc.
- Water pressure readings are higher in the evenings.
- Water pressure should read 65psi for interior and 90psi for exterior lines.
- if you have a large yard or a pool (ie. you do a lot of exterior watering) you can separate your interior and exterior water lines so you don't pay for sewer service on the lawn and pool water. It will bring down your water bill. However, you do need a permit to have the city come out and put a meter on your exterior line alone.
Bert, the plumber, fixed all our problems. His price was very fair and he didn't try to create more work for himself. In this circumstance he very well could have. He also....and I LOVE this about him, took his shoes off as he walked through the house to get to the front or back yard! Oh, I loved him for that!!! Plus he had no plumber crack and was kind to my daughter and not smelly. All major bonuses for me. And of course, he was experienced and smart. If you live in the LA area and need a plumber I highly recommend Bert and you can email me or leave me a post for his number.
Regulator and shut off valve to the house water line. They should both be above ground.
This is what it should look like. The regular and shut off valve all above ground, in plain sight and away from moist soil. This is the kind of stuff I don't pay attention to until there is a problem.
And the sprinkler valves should be about a foot higher. They might have installed them properly and they sank as the house settles and moves throughout the year.