Monday, May 7, 2012

Things that go Brrrrrrr in the nite

Last Tuesday nite I was rudely awakened by the sound of our freshwater pump running.  That's rare, but not completely unheard of.  For example, if it just so happened that the last use of water took the system pressure down to 0.001 psi above the pressure switch setting, it wouldn't take much leak-back thru the pump to cause the switch to trip and the pump to run.  So, I sort of noted it and fell back asleep.

And then it happened again.

Well, OK, this was not normal.  Just as I was groggily contemplating this, the bilge pump ran.  Even half asleep, I knew we had a fresh water leak.  I hopped (that's a euphemism) out of bed and shut down the fresh water pump and the water heater (don't want it to be on if it is empty...).  Then I went back to bed.

But not back to sleep.  My damn brain would not get out of problem-solving mode.  So when the alarm went off, I leaped out of bed (that's another euphemism), got a flashlight, and went looking.

The first compartment I opened (under the setee, where the water heater is) was
drenched.  Got it in one.

I had to go to work on Wednesday morning, so only triage was in order.  I got the things out of the compartment and put the dehumidifier in there to dry it out (have I mentioned how nice it is to have a dehumidifier on board?).  Thankfully, the espresso maker already had enough water in it for the morning's coffee.

Wednesday nite I crawled into the compartment with a flashlight.  After asking Jane to briefly turn on the pump, the location of the leak was obvious, but the cause was not.  That may seem obtuse, but it is accurate.  The water was coming out of the fitting above, right from where the hose met the body of the fitting.

First guess?  Loose hose clamp.  Tightened it.  Nope - same leak.

Second guess?  Split hose or pinhole in the hose.  Pulled the hose, cut off an inch, and reattached.  Nope.

Third guess?  Fitting broken/cracked.  Pulled the hose and then the fitting.  Looked carefully at the joint between the hose barb section and the body of the fitting - looked good.  Put it all back together... and the leak was in a slightly different location.  (That's a hint...)

Then I bumped the hose while there was still some pressure in the system - *big* gusher, obviously coming from the fitting.  Took it all apart again, and got the fitting out into the light where I could scrutinize it.

In the picture above, I carefully posed the fitting in contrasting light to highlight the failure.  In normal light, it is not at all obvious; with a flashlight and wedged into the compartment under the settee, it is invisible.  But see the light-colored discoloration?  That is actually a crack - the entire hose barb section is about to split off.

Thankfully, my plumbing box had enough spare fittings that I was able to put the system back together again.  But I had to use another nylon fitting.  Since the last nylon fitting failed, in cold water service, with just the weight of a foot of 1/2" hose pulling on it, I consider the repair to be a temporary fix, only until I can get a brass equivalent fitting to install.

Lesson learned:  Beware nylon fittings - they will keep you up at nite!
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