Such an option was presented to me just a few years ago. At this time my wife and I had both retired from our corporate positions in Sydney and moved back to Victoria to be closer to family. Our destination of choice was a farming property located in the very fertile Samaria Valley, just 25 kms south of Benalla.
We had updated the rainwater storage and reticulation system and had plans drawn up for an extension to the house. Whilst completing some basic plumbing maintenance it was noticed that the pressure pump was coming on at times, when there were no taps on in the house. This can sometimes be attributed to the hot water feed tank located in the ceiling, as it refills after the hot water has been used. However, the stop/start process continued, so it was possible that there was a leak somewhere in the system, however there were no obvious signs. The house being brick veneer had a number of steel vents located in the lower brick foundations to supply ventilation to the sub-floor area. A couple of these were carefully removed and it was discovered that there was in fact a small leak under the house.
It became apparent that when the main cold water distribution line was originally installed, it was in galvanised steel and had simply been laid along the ground, and not saddle clipped up under the floor bearers as normal. This resulted in the pipe being in contact with the ground, and over time it had rusted from the outside in, creating a small, but growing, leak. The options were to try and work within the very limited sub-floor space and attempt to remove the pipe, accessing it through the holes where the sub-floor vents were, or ripping up the floor to access the pipe. Option one was chosen, as my wife was not at all attracted to the idea of having the floorboards in the house lifted.
Now the sub-floor option would require some very strict planning, to ensure that the house was not without a water supply for more than a day. Prior to the leaking pipe being removed, there was a trip to Benalla to get high pressure PVC fittings and lengths of pipe to the dimensions of the pipe to be removed. The vents were removed and in one location a couple of extra bricks were also removed to allow access to a pipe junction which had to be unscrewed. Fortunately, the take-off points were located near where the vents had been positioned. The removal of the vents allowed my arm, up to my upper arm, to enter the subfloor cavity and unscrew the copper take-off pipes and slide the length of leaking galvanised pipe out from under the house. Once removed, the steel pipe was laid out on the ground and the PVC pipe assembled to the same dimensions, with the take-offs matching the original positions.
Next came the subsequent set of options. Whilst assembling the replacement PVC pipe, I looked over towards the house to see the tail of a black snake disappearing through the vent hole into the sub-floor area.
Whilst contemplating what the next move would be, I completed the assembly of the reticulation pipes ready for reinstallation. Now my thought process was not assisted by the request from my wife, on what the time limit would be before water was restored.
My options were, to take my chances with the snake during the underfloor installation, or incur the wrath of an unhappy wife, who was inside the house, without water. Again, option one was chosen. I inserted the main sections of the distribution lines, then reached through the vents to reattach the take-off’s, making as much noise as I could, hoping that the snake would retreat to the other side of the house sub-floor area.
Well, it seemed to work. The take-offs were reattached without incident, while the vents were replaced after allowing a couple of days for the snake to reconsider its ‘options’.