epoxy tank patch
Thursday, May 14 2020
It was a mostly-sunny day and warm enough not to even bother with a fire in the woodstove. This afternoon, found myself adding yet more fluid (in this case, just water) to the solar panel's hydronic loop, and it had me wondering if maybe it had developed a leak somewhere. But I couldn't find any on the roof or anywhere in the pipes leading to the basement. There was, however, a disturbing amount of water under the well's 50 or 60 gallon fiberglass pressure tank, something I'd noticed (and ignored) some weeks ago. Today I smelled (and even tasted) that water, and it was clearly just regular water, not hydronic fluid. Where could it be coming from? It didn't take long to find a tiny leak high on the pressure tank. The water was dribbling out at a very slow and steady rate, creating a shiny trickle mark down the tank. The leak wasn't associated with any plumbing perforations. It was just a failure in the fiberglass. So I decided to repair it. First I closed the valve to the household plumbing and killed the circuit breaker to the well. Then I used a long hose to drain the tank into the bathtub, though almost nothing drained out (suggesting the air bladder against which the well pump pushes may have failed). From a piece of two-by-four scrap, I cut a wedge that fit perfectly between the pinhole leak and a little shelf I built above the pressure tank to facilitate my maintenance of the solar plumbing (which is complicated and in an otherwise hard-to-reach space near the ceiling). After vigorously sanding around the site of the leak, I mixed up some half-hour epoxy and slathered it over that spot. I then embedded two layers of fiberglass mesh. The epoxy solidified more slowly than expected, taking more than a half hour. This was probably a good thing; I've noticed that the slower the cure time, the stronger the epoxy.
Meanwhile Gretchen and Powerful had been to Target, into which they'd tried to take the dogs (until accosted by a masked employee wanting to know if they were service dogs; for some reason Gretchen forgot to lie). Despite the lack of running water, Gretchen managed to make a delicious Mexican meal using things like shredded broccoli stems (in the absence of cabbage) and faux meat from the Herbiverous Butcher in Minneapolis.
After dinner, I washed the dishes in the yard using gravity-fed water from the barrel that collects rain from the roof of the woodshed. I'd been monitoring the state of the epoxy on the pressure tank with the piece of cardboard I'd mixed it on (which I had up in the library). After about four hours, it seemed solid enough to risk re-pressurizing the tank. Before doing that, though, I first inserted that wedge between the leak and the shelf above it and then used a bottle jack to force the shelf down hard on the wedge. When I turned the household water back on, there were no leaks. I'd been planning in case I needed to have the water turned off all night, and had filled buckets in case toilet needed to be flushed and even set up a five gallon potable-water tank on an old water cooler stand (one I used to use to make hot water in the laboratory).
This evening at 9:45pm EDT, the usual Mercy For Animals diaspora gang got together in a Google Hangout for one of our occasional happy hours. One of the topics of discussion was Roberto Esquivel Cabrera, the man with the world's largest penis. Cameron posted a picture in our Slack channel, and we explored the subject in detail.
Happy hour tonight, with Dan and a Coors Light doing the talking. Click to enlarge.
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