|Keep It Simple, Stupid|
Always be learning - how a leaky pipe made me appreciate Open Sourceby talexb (Canon)
|on Feb 07, 2006 at 10:38 UTC||Need Help??|
I had a leaky pipe two weeks ago. It started leaking in the morning, after my shower and while I was reading the morning paper. After getting one Really Enormous Quote from a plumber and then doing some soul searching, I decided to do the repairs myself.
Since I'm a big fan of Mike Holmes, and since Mike said on one of his shows that PEX tubing was the way all new plumbing was going, I thought I'd give that a shot. The good news is that my plumbing is now in tip-top shape, at the cost of being partially without water for a week, and of about 50 hours of my time, which includes about ten visits to my local Home Depot for parts and advice.
Doing a repair yourself and making the pilgrimmage to Home Depot is similar to the mindset required to making the choice to run Linux. It's not for the faint of heart, or for those who just have no idea about what they're doing. Surely as (say) 10% of Linux distro CDs get run once or even never, I would bet that 10% of whatever Home Depot sells ends up stashed in the garage or buried under junk in the basement, the owner too embarrassed to admit they couldn't figure it out.
Jumping to a new technology can be scary, but it can also be a good thing -- in my case, I've taken apart lots of galvanized steel pipe, but never built it. It takes a certain amount of knowledge to put it together, but it also clogs with rust, eventually leaks, and it's ugly. Copper is way better -- it also takes some skill to put it together, but the bar is lower than galvanized steel, it doesn't leak, and it's cleaner looking. Copper tubing is heavy, though, and you have to mount it properly; you can also get water hammer under some circumstances. The PEX tubing I used was really easy to put together, once you've mastered the rather expensive crimping tool and the Go/No-Go template. The best part about it is that you're not dealing with the really hot flames and molten solder of copper plumbing -- just plug the parts in, crimp the ring, and you have a join.
Like Open Source, you sometimes have to be willing to take the leap into the unknown and ask questions, make mistakes, and experience stress. In my case, I crimped PEX tubing to the copper riser going to the toilet before soldering any parts onto the copper. The problem was that the heat from the soldering might damage the crimp and/or the tubing; there was also the challenge that I had only 1" (2.5cm) of copper pipe showing from the floor, and I wasn't sure my soldering skills were up to this tight job.
But, like Open Source, I bought the wrong parts, took them home, looked at them, looked at my partially completed installation and figured out I had some wrong parts. I then went back (again and again) to the store for the right parts, talked to some knowledgeable people (and some dolts), even, amazingly enough, ran into a fellow Perl Monger in the plumbing department at 10pm on a Saturday night, and in the end finished with a solution that works and looks sharp.
This isn't a Meditation to recommend what kind of pipe you use for your plumbing, or even what mega-store you get your hardware from; it's just a reminder that sometimes Open Source is tough, but in the end, with the support of the community, it gets the job done and done well.
Updated: Fixed some typos in the first paragraph.