There are some repair projects that you start and you wish you hadn’t. For me, those projects always involve plumbing. Usually, I don’t do any home repair project without at least three visits to the hardware store. But plumbing projects should earn me hardware store frequent flyer miles … and a couple extra bags of the free popcorn.
This, by the way, wasn’t my first plumbing rodeo. I’ve done the sink, the toilet, and now—the sprinklers.
Sprinklers look so easy—that’s what gets you. PVC is like Tinker Toys and Water Works, all in one. Just cut and glue a few pipes to fix the broken bits. No big deal, right? Wrong. After six sets of soaked clothes and a half-dozen trips to the hardware store, my sprinklers finally work again.
Somewhere around replacing the 15th “T”, I thought about ripping up the whole system and starting fresh. No more fighting with 15-year-old pipes. No more digging up knotted roots to find breaks. It was so tempting. PVC is so cheap. But you can’t allow yourself to be beaten by plastic piping.
Also, I did some Googling, and looked at how PVC is made. It’s pretty recyclable, but PVC is a petroleum product. Plus, it has chloride right in the name. Neither of these substances make top ten lists for sustainable manufacturing. There aren’t a lot of other environmentally-friendly piping options (at least ones that are within my budget)—so I rolled up my sleeves and fixed the old pipes instead of buying new pipes.
I replaced every broken joint and section I could. I retained as much of the original pipe and reused pieces I had cut off.
And to tell you the truth, I was proud. I was soaked, but I was proud. We live in a world that doesn’t always have easy, cut-and-dry answers—but it feels good to do something. To know I made a better choice, even if it wasn’t perfect. I have to believe small steps will get us there, one wrench at a time. Plus, I’ll waste less water now that my sprinkler system actually holds water.
Oh, and if you’re wondering what I learned about working on sprinklers, here’s my top ten tips: