Tuesday, June 18, 2019

More dirt and sod for the back yard

We finished the back yard, but over time, the soil has subsided.  It is most noticeable along the sidewalk, going from the Iris bed all the way to the raised garden.  At places it is more than 3 to 4 inches down from the sidewalk.

So I brought in more dirt to raise it back up to even with the sidewalk -- 1.5 cubic yards from Whittlesey Landscape ($85.67).  I spread it all along the sidewalk, and also out in the yard around the sprinkler heads.  I've had to replace at least two sprinkler heads that stuck up too far from the soil, and then broke when run over by the lawn mower.  The lawn mower didn't hit them, but when the tires went directly over the head, apparently the pressure was too much on the region where it screws into the PVC feeder lines, about 8 inches underground.  Sometimes it is the base of the sprinkler that breaks; sometimes it is the riser that connects the two that breaks.

The new dirt extended out from the sidewalk to taper it into the yard.

Then I ordered more sod.  Specifically one pallet of Zoysia Palisades from the Grass Outlet ($211.09).  This had to be ordered, and was finally available for pick up on June 17, 2019.

Having a full pallet of sod was really more than I needed, but the grass between the back deck and the pecan tree (#2), and the seam between the first half of the back yard (irrigation zone 4) and the second half (irrigation zone 2) has not done well, so we got another 1.5 cubic yards of Professional Mix and spread it in these areas, and then put the extra sod down on top of that.

Now we just need to keep things watered and alive until it can take root.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Moving the Gas Line in the Front Yard

I think I pretty much finished the digging for the new gas line.  The wall is built, at least most of it, and the path cleared.  So time for the Gas Company (Texas Gas Service) to come actually move the line.

I had talked to an inspector back in September, before starting this, and he had said to call customer service.  From the phone tree, it seems I want a "yard line", although the phone tree only talks about a "new" yard line.  The first call, they said I couldn't do that, without inspections and permits, and they would have the permit department and inspection department call me.  After a couple of days, hearing nothing, I called again, and this time the guy said I need to fill out a "YARD LINE AGREEMENT", which he e-mailed to me, I filled out and e-mailed it back to him.  He said it would take 2 to 3 weeks for the crew to show up.

After 4 weeks, I called to check if there was a schedule.  I called repeatedly over the next weeks.  Each time, I was told that job had been let to a subcontractor, and they could not get ahold of them right then, but they would, and would call me back.  No one ever did.

Finally after about 6 weeks, we see a couple of pickups with a trailer and a back-hoe on it in the cove when we get up.  But by the time I can put on my shoes to go out, they are gone.  Follow-up calls seem to suggest that they came, they looked, and they left because they were expecting to did everything up themselves (hence the back-hoe), and were not prepared to see it already dug up.

Weeks more of calling, and I finally get told to talk to a specific inspector -- the same guy I talked to last Sept.  But it turns out his phone had died, but I got his supervisor's phone number and was able to get that they would be out on Friday.  When Friday came and went, another call gave that they would be out on Saturday.  Then Monday.  Finally, they came out today, Tuesday.

They got there around 8AM, and I went out to talk to them, explaining how I thought we could run the new line thru a 4 inch PVC conduit to make it safer (I would know when I got to the gas line in any further digging), and maybe easier for them to replace in the future.  They were okay with that -- they called the conduit a "sleeve" -- and started work.

I had pieced together most of the PVC, but not the three corners, where it changed direction, just in case there were issues with running the new gas line.

The crew disconnected the old gas line, and started removing it.  Then they started piecing together the PVC pipe and running the new gas line thru it.  The new gas line is a yellow plastic line.  They attached a metal fitting at the end near the house.

Down at the street end, they needed to dig out the area where the old line meet the main supply line.  They needed to put a new connection into it for the new line, and the new line had to be at least a foot from the old line.

Two more guys showed up who were the welders.  They got down in the newly enlarged hole and created a new connection in the main line.

They attached the newly run plastic line to the new welded connection.  The plastic lines at both ends were cut and welded to connectors by using a special tool to get the cuts just right and then a special heater that got them up to 450 degrees to melt the plastic ends and put them together.

During all this two inspectors showed up and kept an eye on everything.

While digging, I sometimes found a yellow plastic tape "Gas Line Below" as I dug.  Once the PVC was all in place, one guy took some of that tape and wrapped it around the PVC, barber-pole style.

They pressurized the line and let it sit for at least 15 minutes, spraying soapy water on all the joints, to see if anything leaked (it didn't).

Around this time, another guy showed up to hook up the meter -- the first crew just laid the line, and connected everything up to the house.  Then another guy came and installed the meter.  They brought a new meter and hooked it up, pressure tested it, and then hooked it into the house.

At that point me and the meter guy walked around the house and checked on the stove top, and the two hot water heaters.  The stove worked right away -- apparently they didn't even get air in the line in all the work.  The two hot water heaters needed to have their pilot lights restarted, but then they worked too.

During all this, another guy showed up with a trailer load of sand.  After everything was finished -- the line in place, the old line removed, the new meter installed, and gas flowing -- they poured the sand over the street end of the new line.  They said to be sure to keep 6 inches from the line in all directions protected by the sand.

They even poured some sand into the PVC at the house end, to support the pipe line and keep it in the middle of the PVC.

They put some dirt (from the pile) around the PVC in the trench, to hold it in place, and at the right height.

And with that they were done.  New meter, new gas pipeline, new connection into the gas main, and everything working.  They were done by 11:30.