The Other Half and the boys are away on holidays. They’re at Grandma and Grandad’s house, where they’re enjoying fizzy pop, sweets and trips to the cinema. If the OH is to be believed, my “holiday” is having a break from them. If so, my idea of relaxation is peculiar. I kneel, squat or sit on the dining room floor as I spend hours smacking a 3kg lump hammer against the striking face of a cold chisel. When I need a change, I switch to the sledgehammer. Yes, I’m spending my holiday time breaking rock and concrete. I’ve broken up and removed four large tubs of rubble so far.
I need to excavate enough of the incoming water pipe to clamp it before fitting a new stop cock. Water filters will go on the house side of the pipe. I can’t easily excavate and clamp the pipe outside the house as we don’t know its route, plus the section between the house and outbuildings is covered with 50mm of bitumen over concrete over compacted ballast. Further up the hill, towards the big header tank, the ground is soft but the pipe is laid at least four to five feet deep. I’m not going to work in the bottom of an unprotected trench in soft ground. So, I have to break granite blocks and concrete inside. On the plus side, there’s no wind or rain in the dining room.
As I chipped my way down towards the pipe, taking care not to puncture the pipe, I uncovered a second stop cock encased in concrete. I wasn’t sure if it was on the existing supply pipe or an older one. It could also have joined an older pipe to the blue pipe. I had to widen the hole further, hack down through the dark layer of concrete at the centre top of the photo and carefully break up the concrete over the valve. Today, I spent just over four hours smacking the hammer into the cold chisel, on top of several previous days involving a similar amount of work. It’s certainly good for my arms! The excavations would be faster if I could swing the pick but I can’t. I’d risk putting a hole or three in the ceiling. Obviously, it would be even faster if I had access to an 1800w jackhammer as Paul does when breaking stone but I’m neither as rickety nor as old as he is…
When I stopped work earlier this evening, just in time to feed the pigs, I’d fully uncovered the second stop cock and discovered it was on an old, dry pipe. I still have to take the excavation at least a foot wider to the right. After that, I have to cut a channel through the layers of concrete and wood behind the opening in the floor. The new stop cock will sit in the hole. A section of pipe will run through the channel and up the wall to the inlet side of the filters. The outlet pipe from the filters will connect to the existing stop cock. It will be easier to change filters if I can shut the water off on both sides of their housings and not have to drain the entire system first.