One of the joys of having a nearly 15 year old camping trailer is that things break often. Recently, we discovered a minor drip from the interior water system. The drip was from a section of plumbing that was replaced just last year, so I was well familiar with the process. Or so I thought. This is the story of how many trips to the hardware it took to fix one drip!
The Broken Part
Near the hot water tank in most RVs, there's a whole series of valves and connections. This is so that you can bypass the hot water heater when it comes time to get things prepared for winter. Last spring, several sections of pipes and valves broke. This included the supply line into the water heater.
We replaced it with PEX piping and new valves, most of which are called Sharkbite. These are cool. It allows you to push the PEX in without clamping or crimping. When you want to disconnect it, you have a small tool that pushes a lip over the ‘shark' teeth, and the piping can be removed. Easy peasy, right? We'll see!
Last year, because there were a few sections involved, it took a few hours.
However, this year, I noticed a drip in the supply line into the water heater. It was just a minor drip but enough to form a puddle, so it needed to be fixed.
So, how many trips did it take?
First Trip – The One Crimped Valve
As I said above, we used mostly Sharkbite valves. These don't require any crimping. But, the one section that goes into the heater requires a crimped pipe. So, I decided to get this taken care of. I had some leftover PEX, and drove over to the nearby hardware. This is an old time hardware, and I love it. It's small but they seem to have everything. Plus, they know their stuff!
I explained what I needed, picked out the valve, and was on my way in about 10 minutes.
At this point, I thought we had everything we needed. I was wrong.
Second Trip – The Sharkbite That Wouldn't Let Go
Sharkbite pulls apart pretty easily. I tried it last year when I was putting it together. I was smart. You know how? I even kept the tool right there with the pipe in the event I would need it. So when I did, I was proud that the tool was right there.
Except it didn't work.
We were trying to remove pipe from an elbow, and it wouldn't come loose. I probably had pushed the pipe in too far into the elbow, and it just wouldn't budge. (Pushing this in too far was probably the cause of the leak, as is my best guess).
After about 15 minutes and some near damaged fingers, we decided to get a new elbow.
Off to the hardware we went.
This time, the salesman showed me a different version that he thought might work. It was a couple bucks cheaper, and at first glance, would do the trick. I decided to get it and took it home to see if it would work.
Guess what? It wouldn't work.
There's an electrical box that sticks out just enough that it was in the way. My father-in-law and I had both forgotten about it.
Third Trip – The Original Elbow
So, off we went to get the replacement for the original elbow we should have gotten all along.
This was a pretty quick trip in and out. I thought we had it straightened out.
Except. We didn't.
Fourth Trip – The Wrong Right Angle
Once we got back and started getting to work on cutting, my father-in-law noticed a problem. Remember back in the First Trip when I got the part crimped to the pipe. Turns out, I'd gotten the wrong one. I got a valve that came out and then bent at a 90-degree angle before it was crimped.
It was supposed to be straight.
By this time, I was getting frantic. It was 5:50 and the hardware closed at 6:00.
Lucky, it's only a few minutes away and we made it in by 5:55. They were laughing by now.
After getting the right piece and getting it crimped, we were out by 6:01.
I made a joke that the credit card company would start declining the purchase. He said that they wouldn't, because they would be coded as Plumbing purchases. And he then said that the average number of trips for any plumbing project was 3.5. He said that there was always three, plus usually one thing you remember in the parking lot for the ‘half'.
I guess I was only off by a half.
Install – A Breeze!
All of that took us about 1 hour and 45 minutes. This was a lot longer than I'd anticipated. Once we got back, cutting and installing the pipe took about 15 minutes.
Yep, it took about 7 times longer just to gather the materials than it did for the actual install.
I guess that sounds about right, too!
In the end, the leak is no more. For now. Let's hope that it doesn't return. And, if it does, well at least I know what to expect!
Readers, what's been your highest trip count to the hardware for a simple project? Tell me some of your favorite DIY stories in the comments. Thanks for reading.