The bread trick
Pipes pointing into the utility room

This past weekend my parents visited, and we tried to keep them entertained by doing fun things like going to some waterfalls, and visiting a local winery. We were trying hard not to rope them into doing any work, but Saturday afternoon they made the mistake of asking us what projects we would be working on if they weren’t there, so we ran down the laundry list. So we ended up doing a little work, but we mostly stuck to having fun.

newly sweated pipe

Saturday afternoon my dad helped me get the blades off the riding lawn mower. I had already tried it once before by putting it up on cinder blocks and crawling underneath it, but I couldn’t get enough leverage. Our neighbor Vic Greenwell, who was the original owner of the mower, said that he had put the mower up on its back wheels and rested it against a wall. So we tried that. I ended up kind of holding it up instead of leaning it against the wall, and wedged a 2×4 in by the blade while my dad used the wrench to get the blades off. Now I just need to find the right replacement blades. (Walmart in town didn’t have the right ones)

Sunday morning we were thinking of what to do, since the winery didn’t open until 1 p.m. I convinced my dad to help me turn around the pipes to the washing machine. The washing machine pipes used to turn into the bathroom slightly, which is where the washing machine used to be. We moved the washing machine next door, and wanted to turn the pipes around so we can finish the drywall in the bathroom. I said it would only take an hour or so, and I was sort of right. After an hour, we had successfully cut the pipes, and sweated a coupling onto each pipe with the faucets now angled slightly into the utility room. To do so, we had to turn the house water off and drain the pipes. But we couldn’t get all the water out of the pipes, so we used the bread trick. Shove some bread down the pipe a little ways so the water doesn’t come all the way to the top of the pipe. If there is water where you are trying to sweat, the copper won’t get hot enough to melt the solder.

The bread trick worked just fine, except for the final part of turning the water back on and the bread coming out. After a minute or so the bread came out of the hot water pipe, but not the cold water pipe. I decided the best thing to do would be to wait awhile. We waited an hour or so. No luck. We went to the winery tour and tasted some nice wine. When we got back 4 hours later, we tried again. No luck. We started brainstorming different ideas. We tried sticking a coat hanger in it, but couldn’t get it past the first bend in the faucet. We tried backflushing it by hooking up the hot water to the cold water through a laundry hose. All no luck. I decided to wait longer.

the faucets now face the other way

Monday. No luck. I was starting to think it would never come out and I would have to re-cut and sweat the pipe, so I asked Clare to buy some more couplings. I also decided to ask Rich Dibble, Dave’s brother, who taught us the trick in the first place. He gave some similar suggestions. Dave suggested trying to put some acid in the pipe or something. Tonight I decided to fix it once and for all. I tried turning the water on and off a couple times, and tried back-flushing it. I also tried putting some vinegar in the pipe through the hose. None of this seemed to help. On Sunday my dad had mentioned that he thought that the faucet might not be working. I had disregarded this possibility as having an extremely low probability, since it had been working fine right before we started the project. He suspected that the faucet was not opening correctly. It turns out he was on the right track. I did not want to take the faucet apart on Sunday evening, because I feared that we might end up with a leaky faucet or worse yet a faucet that wouldn’t stop at all, and we would have to turn the water off to the whole house, instead of simply not having a washer for a few days. Today however, I decided to try taking off the faucet. I had the water turned on as I started taking it off, and this weird brown goo started coming out. I quickly turned off the water to the house, then continued taking the faucet off of the pipe, and grabbed a bucket. Finally the bread came out. It had been clogged up in the faucet. I got out the coat hanger and cleaned out some of the bread, then hooked it back up and flushed it out with the water back on. I did one more cycle of turning the water off and on, and put some teflon tape on the faucet. Then I hooked the washer back up and re-leveled it, and it seems to be working fine. I am happy that it worked out, but feel a little stupid that I didn’t try taking off the faucet on Sunday. Oh well. What is that saying about things ending well?