Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Changing the Outside Water Cut-off Valves

Our work in the backyard is almost bound to break the irrigation water supply line. So we figured we needed to shut it off before we broke it. The cut-off valve is in the front of the house, near the water meter. Alas, when we went to turn off the irrigation water, the cut-off valves -- one before and one after some test ports -- were both frozen open with rust.

So we need to replace this cut-off valve. We called American Irrigation Repair, who had done such a good job just last June on repairing the two broken solenoid valves.

They came out and replaced the old cut-off with a brand new one.

They also provided a newer, bigger box, since there is an additional, easier to use cut-off at the very beginning -- with the yellow handle.

Throw some dirt around the box, and put the lid on, and this problem is taken care of.

Unfortunately, in doing this, they created a different problem. To replace the cut-off valve for the irrigation system, they had to shut off all the water to the house. But in trying to do that, that valve broke. So they replaced the main user water cut-off valve for the house.

The main water cut-off valve is just on this side of the meter. Notice that the city put two meters in this box -- one for me and one for my neighbor.

Just this side of the meter are then two cut-off valves -- one for me, and one for me neighbor. Each is in its own small hole. You have to reach down and turn the valve until the water is complete turned off. After talking with my neighbor, it seemed better to have one big box to access both cut-off valves, rather than two little ones, so I dug up both our cut-off and theirs, and got a box from Home Depot -- $20 -- for both cut-off valves. This should make it much easier to get to both my valve and his. Mine is on the left with the new red 90 degree cut-off handle; his is on the right with the turn, turn, turn handle.

Once the box is in place, put dirt around the outside, and slap the cover on.

This leaves us with two new valves in two new boxes. This should solve that problem for awhile. The old valves each lasted 25 years, so maybe these will last another 25.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Continuing to dig up the back yard, part 1

In continuing to dig up the back yard, the main difficulty is finding and protecting the communications and electrical lines while doing the digging. I called 811 to get them to mark where the lines were supposed to be, but ...

Working carefully from East to West, we first found the cable line. It was about 6 inches underground. I've wrapped a big section of it with yellow tape, to make it easier to see (and hopefully harder to cut accidentally).

Next we should have found the electric line, but so far, we haven't found it or an obvious trench that it could be in. We did find an underground white PVC sprinkler line. It was about 9 inches underground.

Finally, we found the telephone line. It was about 10 inches underground.

This is a triangle running parallel to the fence (about 5 feet away from it) up to the green electrical power transformer box and then back, parallel to the telephone line towards the house.

So far I'm only working on the part to the one side of the main irrigation water supply line which is about 7 inches under ground. The next section to work on will be on the house side of the main irrigation water supply line.

After about 3 weeks of digging, I have three areas exposed: (1) the big triangle to the East of the water supply line, (2) the triangle between the water supply line and the fence, and (3) the rectangle from the water supply line (on two sides) to the current patio.

This third area exposes the telephone landline and the cable line. The electrical line is still buried somewhere down in a trench that was cut into the limestone rock. In addition, this area has exposed some large rocks which I will need to break down to get out of the hole that has been dug to expose them.

The remaining section will be the neck of this area going along next to the patio over to where the various electrical, telephone and cable lines come up from the ground and attach to the wall.