Shitty Plumbing & Murphy’s Law

Posted by Nick  | 18 Mar 2015  | 6 comments

There’s a particular time that rolls around, usually annually, where everything starts breaking. I’m sure it’s like this for everyone, right? Planned obsolescence aside, it appears that Murphy’s Law is abound this time of year. Our lawn mower (a hand-me-down from my grandmother) recently kicked the bucket, and because we do a lot of mowing here (read hundred-metre bush strip), it was urgent that we replace it. Thankfully, our new modern one works a treat; starts with a single pull and purrs like a kitten. When it comes to mowing, there’s nothing more frustrating than spending half the time getting the contraption to start.

Mowers are not cheap, especially ones with bigger engines to handle the amount of work we need one for. You know what else doesn’t come cheap? House pumps. Yep, our half-a-century-old one that came with this place recently sprang a leak.

Let me say this: I have very little experience with plumbing or pumps (I have minimal understanding of how they even work). This ignorance resulted in an amusing, but at the time frightening, mishap.

Deciding to take the old pump to a service centre to be inspected, I had to figure out how to decouple the pipes. Do you see that (very retro) mustard coloured tank on top of the pump? That’s where the water is pressurised to provide the house taps with, you guessed it, pressure. This contains about, oh I don’t know, ten litres of water. Pressurised water. Explosively pressurised water.

My mistake was not decompressing this tank first. I did turn off the inlet valve, thinking that would suffice, but I should have run a tap until the pressure tank had emptied. I did not, however, so when I went to decouple the outlet pipe from the pump – BOOM! I was instantly saturated from head to foot in an explosion of water. Ten litres of water evacuated a twenty millimetre hole instantaneously. The explosion was ear-ringing and blew me backwards.

Fright. Of. My. Life.

For more than a few moments I couldn’t understand why in the world all my clothes and even my shoes were wet. Where had all this water come from? When I understood what had happened and realised I was unharmed, just shaken, I burst out laughing. As soon as Char saw me she burst out laughing too.

In a fresh set of dry clothes, my visit to the local service centre revealed that it would cost half the price of a new pump to repair the old one. How about nope. I think forty years or so is a decent lifespan for a pump, and it would only end up causing us future strife, so we opted for getting a new one. Here’s that shiny new bad boy:

Figuring out how to hook it all up was actually pretty easy – there was no reason to be overwhelmed at the prospect, as I was. The old external laundry/tool shed where the pump lives will be taken down in the foreseeable future, so for now our new pump sits temporarily on a cinder block inside.

Less than a couple of days after installing the new pump, another plumbing mishap occurred which can only be described as horrifying to us green country-folk who are short on water. We lost an entire tank’s worth overnight – gone – emptied onto the lawn. The reason for this: Shitty plumbing.

It’s obvious this old cottage has likely never been scrutinised by a building inspector. Everything – the plumbing, wiring, even parts of the structure – seems retrofitted and thrown together with whatever was lying around. Take, for instance, this maze of plumbing under the house with all its superfluous joiners and odd shortcuts:

I’m a stickler for tidiness, so this really bothers me. The “that’ll do” attitude for permanent solutions makes me squirm. Also, these laundry taps… they’re just… wrong:

So because our sexy new pump is a bit stronger than its predecessor, the multitude of excessive joints in the plumbing began springing leaks of their own. Then one morning we were rudely awoken to find the entirety of our house water tank had been emptied onto the lawn, thanks solely to a poorly fitted pipe.

There’s the culprit. Someone hadn’t bothered to tighten the nut on the pipe properly because, I’m guessing, it was too annoying pressed up to the wood post like that. So yeah, without any secure mechanism to stop the flow, our new pump powered through fifteen thousand litres of rain water overnight, which we’d just recently caught in an unexpected, and much needed, downpour. Losing that much water in the middle of summer is, well… I won’t make an attempt at dry humour here.

Had Murphy not been running his errands this time of year, this might have happened during the daytime when we would have noticed it, rather than when we bloody slept!

I recall now that it wasn’t actually that long before that we had a similar incident happen with the laundry toilet. Luckily, Char noticed the plumbing had come loose before we lost any significant amount of water. That should have clued us on to checking other connections about the place. As you can see, this particular toilet’s plumbing includes a length of, yep, GARDEN HOSE:

Good job, mate. Ah well, in retrospect it’s all a bit of a laugh. Looking forward to redoing this forsaken plumbing – the whole lot. And mark my words, it’ll be a god-damn masterpiece.

6 comments Leave a comment

Lynda Miller
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Glad you’re ok, and sympathy for the plumbing problems. We are lucky here, our plumbing mishaps have only left us with a huge water bill as we are on city water, not thirsty as yours could. We’ve had waterfalls running through the basement, waterfalls near the meter, and ice fountains in winter. Lovely blue poly water line, please stay intact until we find out how to rent a device to dig under the driveway and replace you, patching you isn’t helping. Is there a way to put in a well where you live? We have considered it. Hang in there.


Haha, thanks Lynda. Yep, no harm done. Lesson learned!

Gosh, our plumbing problems seem to pale in comparison to yours. It makes me glad we don’t live in freezing winter temperatures. Though ice fountains sound pretty fun 😉

We don’t need a well; two new rain tanks will suffice. It’s just the old makeshift plumbing that’s the problem here. Everything seems intact for the moment, so no worries 🙂

Hope you find an affordable solution to your pipe problem before next winter!

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oh Char, I love this post, reminds me of being on the farm with Paul and the old farmhouse we used to live in. The country life eh!!


Our house now is very much like the old farmhouse – it’s old and very much been patched together over the years but we so love living here!

George Shears
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I greatly enjoyed this modern-day version of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Nick. By virtue of your persistent can-do attitude, you prevailed without even needing to be rescued by the Wizard. Through courageously navigating the course of trial-by-ordeal, you are rapidly earning the appellation of “True Farmer.” Keep up the good work!


Haha, thanks George, though this simple plumbing is hardly wizardry. I admit, however, that the initial prospect of repairing it and installing the pump was quite overwhelming. Appreciate your thoughtful comments 🙂

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