Who’s that Pipe?


Mystery Pipe

I was working on some of the plumbing in the butcher shop and ran across an unknown pipe opening. I couldn’t remember what that was for. Examining my floor plans I couldn’t find that pipe. I finally found a photograph of the pipe in question during installation which led me to look in a different layer of my floor plans. Low and behold, there it was!

This emphasizes how important it is to keep good records. As we work I have taken thousands of photos showing how we did things, where things were, the lay of the conduit and pipes, etc so that I can find them later. Then before each pour of concrete I get actual real world measurements of where everything is and log them into my floor plans.

The thing that tripped me up here was that this pipe is part of the lung system of the refrigerated section of the building and not part of the waste water plumbing (DWV). These two systems are in different layers of my floor plans and never the twain shall meet. They have different functionality. One carries waste water away and the other, the lungs, is used to dehumidify and drain the air gap and pink foam below the reefer so we won’t ever get water logged insulation which is a major failure mode for refrigeration systems.

I’m glad to have figured what was the function of that mystery pipe. Keeping good records helped.

Outdoors: 14°F/4°F 8″ Snow
Tiny Cottage: 64°F/58°F

Daily Spark: Optimism is preventative medicine for Depression.

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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10 Responses to Who’s that Pipe?

  1. David lloyd Sutton says:

    Gaaah!
    At one point, I had a wife who had a Dodge Dart, which was blowing white smoke. My Father-in- law convinced me to repair it over Easter Break. I discovered that a Dodge Dart, with a V-6, had a tendency to align the slots in the rings. Could have been cured w/ a screwdriver realigning the slots, instead of dropping the pan, hoisting out the engine, etc. (remember I was a USMC radio tech, w/ No automotive experience, and desperately in need of a rest.) It wasn’t the fact I wasted a week finding a non-existent problem, it was the three pound coffee can of left-over parts when I’d reassembled the nimro-designed thing. You’re lucky having only the occasional GAAH moment!!

  2. Angie says:

    My brain hurts just looking at all those pipes :/

  3. Cary says:

    I used to be an art director with Disney and it brought back memories when you mentioned taking real world measurements and adjusting the plans. We called them “As Built” plans. There were always tweaks made in the field so there were architects whose main job was to document the site and make adjustments to the plans. Even then when I was on EuroDisney some of the site people lost a water pipe used for watering plants. Another art director and I joked about using dowsing rods to find it. I had an uncle that could do it and as a kid I can say I watched him do it and even the local airport hired him once to find a pipe. Just hearing you talk about updating plans gave me theme park flashbacks. At the time EuroDisney was the second largest construction site in the world, the largest was nearby, The Channel Tunnel.

  4. CarolG. says:

    I was wondering if there isn’t a reason to color code the pipes (maybe with just a stripe) so you or anyone with the code could identify the purpose of the pipe in a hurry? Perhaps not so important for stuff that is to be buried, but I have definitely found it useful in my house.

    • A good idea. I do color code as I’m laying them out and in our house the exposed pipes are thus marked but in this case the pipes are buried in concrete and only the socket of the rim and inside of the pipe is visible since the exterior of the pipes are now all in concrete. At the time I made a map so I knew I would figure it out later. The problem here was I was looking at the wrong map. :) Oops!

  5. This reminds me of some of the worse debugging exercises I’ve been through in my career. The plumbing in this case is metaphorical, but even more elusive.

    I wanted to check in to make sure Nemo didn’t hurt you all, seems like Vermont got the milder part of it.

    • Nemo? Are you’re referring to the snow storm? I didn’t realize it had a name. We got around 10″ total spread out over a few days. It was fairly mild in these parts. We’re comparatively low on snow this year, not as low as last year but a bit lower than most years. The good news is that saves time not having to plow as much.

      Aye, doing conduit and plumbing work is rather like coding in many ways.

      • I’m glad to hear it was mild in your area, one farm I know in CT had damage to several greenhouses. You always try to hedge or anticipate those nasty losses in farming but there’s no preparing for freak snowstorms/hurricanes… which seem to be happening more frequently in recent years.

        Like you, I generally prefer to be inland among the hills, seems like a long-term less volatile place.

        • Actually, snow storms are pretty prepare-able. Basically you clean up so things won’t get buried of fly around in the winds, batten down, get feed out to all the livestock, get wood in for the fire, double check the pantry, double check the tractor for plowing and then hunker down for the duration. All this should be done days ahead – storms have a long warning time. Animals still need tending but that is an on-foot task. Don’t go out on the roads as that is where there is the greatest danger. We don’t deliver to stores or take to the butcher in such times. We state that explicitly on our order form – we don’t drive in bad weather.

          Both hurricanes and snow storms are quite predictable and people who deal with them a lot do this. It is people who live in areas that don’t usually get intense storms that have a harder time because they’re not used to dealing with it, aren’t setup for it, the woods aren’t cleared out yet by high winds and they don’t have the life skills for the storm. They think life carries on as usual and don’t realize what they need to do is just sit it out. A blizzard in CT is far worse than the same blizzard here for this reason.

          As to frequency, the storms are any more frequent or intense than in the past. If you study history over the past thousands of years this bears out what I am saying. People are making a bigger deal about the storms but things really haven’t changed much in nature. What has changed is there is a lot more of monetary value being destroyed because there are larger concentrations of value due to urban areas getting larger. Urban areas are inherently more expensive and more fragile than dispersed rural areas.

          Just wait it out. Remember: This too shall pass.

  6. David Lloyd Sutton says:

    Cary:
    “Dowsing” for pipes is a different matter than dowsing for water, I think. My father did the pipe location thing and taught both my brother and myself, young, how to do it. He used sections of rabbit skin stretchers, steel about 1/4″ in diameter, and made a right angle bend for a handle section, an arm of about 20″, and ran the handles through a hole, big enough to allow free rotation, in thick wooden doweling . One walks along, slowly, and the arms will rotate to parallel either flowing water or ferrous pipe which has long carried water. Obviously a manifestation of magnetism, as H2O is a polar molecule and polarizes susceptable material in it’s passage. (Hold a horse shoe magnet next the stream from your faucet. The stream will bend toward the magnet.)
    I have never figured out why the dowsing instruments invariably point away from each other. Any ideas out there? Walter, I can hear your brain clicking from here . . .

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