Water Works

We were called to troubleshoot the sprinkler water flow alarm at an old mill complex, dating back to the early 1900s. Verifying that the alarm pressure switch did not operate after opening the correct test valve, my partner proceeded to climb in among the web of piping to access the switch. After removing it, it was obvious the switch inlet and piping were solidly clogged with years of accumulation. While I readied a new switch, he proceeded to clear some of the clog from the piping. Suddenly, the relative quiet in the mill was shattered by yelling. He had managed to break the clog free but put himself in the path of all the accumulation and 100-plus pounds of water pressure behind it. He had forgotten to close the test valve and now could not extricate himself from the piping to turn it off. After a minute or two, I managed to close the valve and help him out of the mess. I'll never forget the very unique odor of the old stagnant sprinkler water. Although the water was harmless, he had to put up with soaking wet, very dirty, and peculiar smelling clothes (and hair) all the way home.
John Sleights
Southbury, Conn.

Springing Into Action

A few years ago, we were wiring a large development, and the job went on for a few years. As we roughed-in units, people were already living in one part of the complex by the end of the project. On occasion, we would do extra work in the occupied units. One day, an apprentice showed up in the unit I was working in, asking me to come help right away because he had a “situation.” When we arrived at the unit he was working in, he explained to me that he was adding an outlet that required him to drill a hole from the basement up to the first floor. He was using one of those large “nail eater” bits, and it was stuck. Whenever he put the drill in reverse, it would just pull him up — like the drill was in the “forward” position. I decided it was time to check things out on the first floor. After looking around for a few minutes, I was quite surprised to find the bit was nowhere near the wall he was trying to drill up into. He had drilled on such a great angle that the bit had come up right through the floor and up into the customer's couch! The drill bit would not pull out because it was completely wrapped around the coils of the couch.
George Tornroth
South Plainfield, N.J.

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