During the process of setting up the sand blaster I heard a strange hissing noise at the corner of the house. Upon closer inspection I found a steady stream of water rolling out from under the wood paneling that covers the outside of the home. I went inside and found a big wet patch of drywall (kind of oxymoronic, eh?) and a puddle forming on the floor. Just what I needed.... a leak inside of the wall.
I grabbed my sheetrock hole-saw from my truck and cut out a nice square patch around the wet spot and was immediately greeted by a jet of water gushing from a hole in the copper pipe. It was the hot water return line leaking, so we should have been able to at least have cold water for coffee making and toilet flushing while I worked on repairing the bad pipe. Hah. Fat chance. The freakin' cheap valve that they put on the inlet refused to turn completely off..... the water would have to be shut off at the meter.* (I really hate those cheap valves. Hate them!)
So I gathered up the wife and kids and it was off to Lowe's. I really like Lowe's :)
Since I had enough 1/2" pipe in the shop, all I really needed were a pair of couplings. But I figured that as long as the water was off, I should go ahead and replace the cheap valve with a nice ball valve that will outlast the water heater, and perhaps even the house itself. I didn't have any 3/4" pipe or fittings on hand, so I ended up spending about $40 total for two 1/2" couplings, four 3/4" elbows, a 24" length of 3/4" copper pipe and some emery cloth for cleaning all of the connections for soldering. Everything else I needed I already had.
Next step- cut the offending valve out of the line and drain enough water from the heater to make sure it wasn't in the way of the soldering. I also vacuumed out the lower pipes with the shop vacuum before I started working with the heat. If you don't have adequate space between any water in the line and the heat source steam is created which will absolutely prevent a solid solder joint from being able to form. I cut and dry fit all parts, then pulled them out and cleaned / fluxed everything before putting it back together. Fifteen minutes later it was time to turn on the water main and check for leaks.
No leaks! None! ~happy dance~ Disaster averted, and I'm figuring that since it's Sunday if I had called a plumber the bill would have come in at roughly $230 give or take a few.
I like not spending money I don't have to :)
*The funny thing here? A couple of weeks ago I spent a few hours in the shop making a big wrench for turning off the water main. Yes, you can buy them for next to nothing, but I enjoyed making it. When I showed it to the wife she says "What would you possibly need a water wrench for?". I reminded her of that today :)