DEAR MIKE: I have a back yard with an odd-shaped lot. My problem is getting water to the odd-shaped part so that I can hand-water some plants. I have a hose spigot on the back of my house, but I don't want to roll out the garden hose because it will damage other sensitive plants in its path. I would really like another hose spigot in this area. How can I do it? -- Jimmy M.
DEAR JIMMY: Are you sure that a hose won't do the job? I mean, I can understand not wanting to trample over other plants, but the alternative is to trench a swath in the earth and run a water line. That adds up to a lot of hard work and about two weeks of muscle stiffness.
If you are ready for the suffering to begin, then read on.
You will have to tap into a pressurized water line. There are a couple of options here.
If you know where the main water line runs into the back yard for irrigation, you could always use that. You would need to cut into the pipe before it reaches the sprinkler valves, install a tee fitting, and run the new water line from there. There is some guesswork to finding the location of the pipe underground.
Probably the easiest way to get water is to install a tee fitting on the current hose spigot.
Before you start, map out where you will need to dig. If you want to avoid your delicate plants, you will have to go around them, but this means more digging, and of course more aches.
You can use a trenching shovel, which is just a 4-inch-wide shovel. Dig down to a depth of about 12 inches so that shovels or a fierce game of lawn darts won't damage the pipe, you will also want to get below the frost line. If you need to change direction, say to avoid a garden, use elbow fittings.
Once the trench is dug, shut off the main water supply at the street and remove the spigot. It will likely be attached to a copper pipe with a threaded fitting or a compression fitting on the end of it.
You will need to sweat a tee fitting onto this pipe. Face the middle opening of the "T" upwards so that you can attach a backflow valve. The backflow valve (a.k.a. pressure breaker valve or anti-siphon valve) prevents contaminated water from being sucked back into the house's water supply. The anti-siphon valve is U-shaped so one side will sit on top of the "T" and the other side will face downward and be attached to the pipe that runs underground.
There are several different setups for backflow protection. With a pressure breaker valve, you will need to install separate shutoff valves on each side and reconfigure the piping. There is also a backflow device that simply screws onto the end of the hose spigot. It's cheap and fast.
You might be tempted to forego all of this work and just buy a fitting that screws on the current spigot to redirect the water down (it's shaped like the letter "Y"). Don't do it. It will soon leak, and when it does, you will have to disassemble the whole thing and do the job the right way.
At some point you will change from the copper piping to PVC. You will need either a male or female PVC fitting to attach to the mating piece on the end of the copper. Wrap the fitting three times with teflon tape and you're good to go.
>From here on out the job is just connecting the PVC and running it down the trench. Use PVC primer and glue at each connection.
The new hose bib should be connected to a stable surface, like a wall. At the end of the trench, elbow the pipe upward and run it against the wall. Cut the pipe, elbow it away from the wall, and attach the new hose bib.
Finally, grab the bottle of aspirin and get ready for the agony.