January 2010: D.I.Y. Diary

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January 2010: D.I.Y. Diary

The trench in which we buried the two conduits.

One of the silliest projects we ever took on was also a somewhat involuntary one. We needed to run four lengths of 3/4" tubing through a pair of underground conduits between our outdoor furnace and our basement. These would carry water back and forth to power our heat system. Months earlier, we’d buried the two conduits 3′ underground, snaking rope through each one to act as a lead for the tubing. 

The “involuntary” aspect arose when we tried to pull out the slack in the lead ropes and found that one of them had been chewed clean through by a rat. Rats! Now we only had one conduit to work with. We bundled the tubing all together. Wrapped in reflective insulation, the bundle looked like a big silver snake, which would barely fit through the conduit. 
 
Or, as it turned out, not at all. Pushing from one end and pulling from the other could not persuade the beast to slide through. We tried everything: eliminating one tube, staggering the tube ends, covering them with the round top from a soda bottle, even greasing with vegetable oil. Nothing worked. At one point, we were both pushing from one end and the snake suddenly started to move—fast—and we tasted sweet victory before we looked up and realized the bundle hadn’t been going into the conduit but had popped up out of the ground outside the basement. So that’s why it was moving so easily! 
 
We were finally saved by a tool called a sewer rod that allowed us to reclaim the second conduit. This meant we could break the big snake into two baby snakes. All became smoother from there. It had only taken us four or five nights after work to learn the lesson: Never bury the conduit first.  
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