Plumbing Loop – This Old House

I was sitting quietly working in the morning when I heard the house go bump.  It didn’t quite sound like someone knocking on the door, but I got up to go check anyway.  Halfway to the front door I heard my wife, who was taking a shower at the time, yell, “What happened to the water?”.

Ok… most likely one of the old hoses to the washing machine in the garage finally failed.  I put them in when I bought the first washing machine in 1983.  The machine was replaced a few years ago, and I “meant” to replace the hoses but I guess I never got around to it.  I didn’t even take time to look in the garage, since I was near the front door and the main water valve to the house. I just went outside and turned off the valve.  I could hear the freely flowing water come to a stop.

So now to the garage.  Water was everywhere, about 1/4 inch or so on the floor and sprayed all over things.  But the washing machine hoses looked just fine.  Maybe I have a pipe break somewhere.  Ah… there is water coming from the old water softener machine.  That must be it.

When I bought the house in 1983, it was advertised to come with a water softener.  Turned out, at selling time the machine was revealed to be broken, and the real estate agent offered to fix it.  I told him don’t worry about it, I would never use it anyway.  I don’t like the slippery water produced by those things.  The machine has a plastic valve that slides back and forth to route the water either through the machine, or bypass it and send water directly to the house.  In 1983 I pushed that valve to bypass, and it’s been like that for 30 years.

Well, until today when the plastic broke and one side of the valve popped out, with water following. Here’s a picture of the old thing, after I removed it:


Yep… we were getting a bit of rust in the water supply, but so what – a little rust and scum is good for you.  The white plug on the right is the part that flew out, leaving a clear path for the water to flow into the garage.  Here is a picture of the broken part:


After moving my daughter’s car out of the garage, I saw the broken part lying on the floor.  I put it back in place and used a long woodworking clamp to hold it temporarily.  That allowed me to turn the water back on and let my wife continue with her shower, even though there was a bit of leakage.

I needed to buy some pipe to route the old input pipe to the output in the garage.  I wanted to remove as much of the old pipe as possible and then reconnect using new, galvanized fittings.  I needed to make a loop, which I’m sure will get a laugh out of the next owner of this house.  Here’s a picture:


I first went to Home Depot, but can you believe it?  They had no 3/4 inch elbows.  Seems like a staple item that they should never run out of.  So off to Lowes and about $20 worth of parts and I had the stuff I needed for the loop.

Yes, I know I could have chopped the pipes off at the copper portion and soldered it together, but I just didn’t feel like doing that at the time.  Plus, leaving things like this will possibly make it easier for someone to install a new water softener, if that is ever needed.

I wonder how much this would have cost if I would have called a plumber?  I’m betting no less than $500.

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