Pipe dreams

Principle 4: Apply self-regulation and accept feedback

There's nothing quite like an earth moving machine to find a pipe - especially when you don't want it to...

It seems to me that the bigger machine you use, the easier it is to stuff something up, badly. Not that I stuffed anything up too badly, but it's real easy to. We dug through the original sewer line (just nicking it) when we were excavating for the cellar. I assumed that the toilet line would run to the sewer line along the laneway, the closest connection point, but I was wrong. I contacted the water authority and got a copy of the original sewer plan. I really should have done that before we began digging.

Original Sewer Plan, installed in June 1967. The house was built in the early 50's, I assume that the sewage was collected from the laneway (ROW) by truck or horse and cart before the plumbing was installed.

I decided to replace the existing sewer line after consulting with my plumber. The old terracotta pipes are prone to root invasion and need to be cleaned regularly. Modern PVC pipes are completley sealed, so there should be no leaks or blockages from roots. We needed to connect into the sewer line at the same point as the original one, so I used this plan to help find it. It was very accurate, 38 feet 6 inches from the corner boundary, 3 foot 6 inches down.

On reflection I think that we should have repaired, cleaned, extended and connected into the exisiting line - as I want to try and use all greywater and compost all manure on site. This would make the sewer line obsolete. However, having the new sewer line in place gives more options with less maintenance - at a greater cost.

Dave digging the new sewer line

To be safe, I marked the new line to be one metre from where the stumps were to be dug. I used a laser level to ensure that Dave was digging to the right depth. We needed a 100mm fall every 6 metres.

We managed to dig up the new electricity lines that I put in for the cellar and shed, so I used tiles over the replacement cables to reduce the chance of digging them up again

Savva, the plumber, pressure tests the new sewer line - to ensure there are no leaks

I got Tony, the local 'Kanga' operator to help with some more delicate earth moving. He used three different attachments: the three-way bucket for filling in the trench and cleaning up the site; the trencher for creating a trench for the water tank line; and the 350mm auger for digging post holes. All in less than two and a half hours. A great small, and not so slow solution to earthmoving in confined spaces.

Half an hour on the Kanga saved many hours with a shovel

Making light work of a 20m long trench, which will connect the two water tanks

39 post holes - with one of them finding the cool cupboard pipe, damn! Can't lose concentration for a second when directing machines - no matter how big they are

Quent fixing up the cool cupboard pipe after the 350mm auger went straight through the middle of it.


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