Wednesday, March 24, 2004

General complaints

Not writing about LV today, but about problems, and some people in general.
As mentioned before, I've converted most of the yard from grass to low water desert landscaping. That doesn't mean no water, just a lot less than grass takes. As part of the conversion I've pulled out all of the lawn sprinklers, and am installing drip irrigation. Drip irrigation provides a slow flow of water directly to the plant roots.
I've got several types, one is a long brown pvc hose, half inch in diameter, with drip outlets every twelve inches. Each outlet puts out a half gallon of water an hour. This pipe wraps around our big trees in circles. So far we've got to large olive trees that were here when we moved in, and just put in about sixteen new trees.
You can almost see the water dripping off to the right.
Another type is a similar black plastic hose, but solid and I have to put in drip emitters whereve I want to, rather than having them continuously along the pipe. This plastic hose runs all over the yard, and I put emitters wherever I put in plants. This is more for the shrubs and flowers. We've got a lot of purple sage and the yellow broom and an assortment of grasses.
Anyway, I've got quite a few water zones so that I can put down the water each type of plant requires. I was installing a new valve in order to water the almond tree - it's off by itself surrounded by concrete. In addition to an electronic sprinkler valve, there is also a filter so the drip emitters don't plug up, and a pressure regulator. After cutting pipe, gluing it all together and waiting for it to dry I turned it on to test it, and was greeted by a shower of water coming from the valve.
I found that the valve wasn't put together properly. Tightenin it up I tried again. Another shower, but from the backflow preventer.

In my hand is a little flapper valve that moves to close off the backflow exit, then when water is turned off moves to permit water to drain. The black ring is a rubber gasket that seals the opening. When I took apart this valve I found that the rubber gasket was missing. Apparently someone had opened the box in the store and taken the gasket, then screwed it back together incorrectly. This was the reason that I was showered two times! And I then had to drive back to Home Depot to get another gasket. And Home Depot does not just sell gaskets, I had to buy a whole new valve, take it apart, and fix the one I had installed. Home Depot said to return the bad one for a refund, but I would rather just get a new two cent gasket (which they don't sell). So not only did I waste time figuring out what was wrong and getting wet, but I had to make another trip back to the store and then had to fix my 'new' valve unit.
I'm not mad at Home Depot - I'm mad at the idiot that had to open the box in the store and steal the gasket - THANKS BUDDY!!!!! If HD did sell replacement gaskets I'm sure this guy would still steal one anyway.
What a way to kill an afternoon.
Back to the drips - I installed this type of valve because it's what I was used to installing in California. I find that in Las Vegas people use a flat style valve that is usually mounted in a box underground.

Here's a picture of my valve on the left, with the valve, filter, and pressure regulator all mounted together - it makes a stack about a foot high. Next to it, covered with dirt, is the 'Vegas' type flat valve. I mount mine vertical to take up less room - if I put the filter and regulator on the flat valve then the assembly would be a foot long laying down, and I could never find a nice box to cover it up. However, the flat one is used here because it gets cold, and outdoor pipes do freeze some winters. This year was warm (no real cold for a long time) but I've been told that most years it does get cold enough to freeze the pipes for several nights. So I guess I have to build some type of box to cover the pipes and keep them from freezing.
The vertical valves are also nice in that they come apart in the middle, as in the top photo, and can be easily replaced without cutting any pipes. When the flat valves go bad, and none of them last forever, you have to dig up quite a lot of pipe in order to cut the fittings, take out the old one, and squeeze a new one with fittings back in. This is almost impossible if plant roots have grown around the valves, and usually you have four or six valves together, which means there is a lot of pipe right there getting in the way.
No, it doesn't get cold enough to freeze the ground, which is why the flat ones are used and either buried or covered with a landscaping box. Even if it does get cold at night, it still gets up over 50 during the day, so the pipes would then defrost and produce fountains in the yard.
So, glad I didn't write this last night after putting in all of those hours working on something that should have gone in OK the first time.
Sorry for the complaints here, after all this talk I think I should at least give you a Vegas photo -

This is a street near our house. Some developer put in a batch of houses a few years ago, and lined the street for four blocks with these trees that bloom white. In full bloom now, soon to be green, they are pretty.
Oh, I drove by the water catch basin and the burlap is off of the cactus.