On Plumbing

I’m back visiting my parents in the SF Bay Area for a few weeks, and while I’m here they asked me to repair a broken PVC sprinkler pipe in their backyard.
As with most things, it’s easier said than done. Theoretically, it would have involved cutting out the broken section of old pipe, cutting the new pipe to fit, then joining them with the appropriately-sized couplers and some PVC primer/cement.
Practically, attempting it that way resulted in me covered in mud, swearing, and having a bad time of it. The lack of flexibility in the buried pipes meant that I couldn’t effectively join the pipes, as the replacement part had to be long enough to complete the pipe, while being short enough to fit between the couplers. As I couldn’t move the pieces of pipe buried in the ground, this was remarkably difficult and time-consuming (read: several hours spent covered in mud and swearing like a sailor).
Fortunately, some bright person had invented a telescoping coupler that resolves this very issue — one cements one end of the coupler to one pipe, then extends the telescoping part such that one can then cement the other end to the other pipe. A greased o-ring seals the whole assembly and prevents leakage.
Total cost (including the telescoping coupler, primer and cement): $10.
Total time fixing the broken pipe with the telescoping coupler: 10 minutes.
I’m not a very good plumber, but as with any challenge, I learned a lot and will be able to better address such issues in the future. Issues that will likely strike a (soon to be) newly-married person living in a condo.
Also, PVC is some remarkably nifty stuff. It’s also really cheap (about $0.10/foot) and, other than having immovable pipes buried in the ground, easy to work with.