Grit Blogs > Homesteading with Mrs D

Woman vs. Water Pipes

By Robyn Dolan

Tags: Water Pipes, Water Line, Frozen Pipes, Homestead Repairs, Robyn Dolan,

Homesteading with Mrs DThere’s no place like home, and I still consider my Arizona homestead my home base. It seems that every time I stop there for a couple of days, I have to fix the water line just to get water into the house. I guess that’s how it goes. Water pipes freeze and break in the winter when the weather gets cold. The way I have it set up for full-time living is not working for our stopovers, so I have to formulate a new plan of attack.

I had nearly all the parts on hand to make the repair, except for elbows. The elbows hadn’t burst in the prior two or three freezes. So since I had to get elbows anyway, I picked up some flex hose and clamps as well. I also got a couple of fittings to install another gate valve at the tank, so that when the house lines or water pump are down, we can at least still fill water jugs to bring in for washing and such.


The problem: The pipe is broken from the backflow valve to the elbow.

Since the 2,500-gallon water tank was empty, I considered it a good time to install the gate valve at the bottom of the tank where the threaded connection was located. That was fairly easy: wrap pipe tape on a threaded fitting, screw the gate valve into that and voila! Done. Now I could call for a load of water.

I figured it was easier to have it delivered all at once than to spend the rest of the day running back and forth to the water station 7 miles away, fill my 400-gallon hauling tank, pump into main tank and repeat. Success, no leaks. On to the next challenge.


The water tank.

As I was inspecting the breakage, deciding just where to cut off the broken pipe, I discovered that water was still slowly flowing into the pipe. That should not be happening with the flow shut off at the main tank. Went to the shut-off valve and turned it. Nothing. I pondered for a few moments and decided that it had to be the shut-off valve, so I got my gloves, which give my wimpy girl hands a lot more grip, and my handy pipe wrench and gave the valve a turn. It closed some more.

Went back and checked the pipe. The flow had slowed, but was still coming through. Gave the valve another turn, terrified of breaking it with a full load of 2,500 gallons of water in the tank. The valve finally seemed to reach its limit. Checked pipe, flow seemed to have stopped.


The new hose bib on the water tank.

After I cut off the broken pipe and disassembled the rest of the apparatus from the pump, I put the new backflow valve and pipes together for a dry run before gluing everything in place. It took me some time to work out how to install the flex hose, which I had to soften with a heat gun and I still did not get all the connections right, so I left it for next time, but I think I’m on the right track. I just need to investigate a better way to connect the hose to the backflow valve and give it another test.

My plan is to leave one connection unglued so that it can be removed and the pipes drained when we are gone, to eliminate breakage from freeze ups. This way we will also be able to detect a freeze and thaw it before turning the water back on. It will be far less labor intensive than repairing the entire connection every time we come home. Once I get the water flowing into the house again, I have another project that will need to be completed before winter: a new insulation box around the water pipes and pump.


Almost to the solution.

Until next time … I hope you will visit my website, Mrs. D's Traveling Homestead, for more updates on our mobile homesteading, roadschooling and simple living adventures. Please also check out my book: The Working Parent’s Guide To Homeschooling.