The boiler drain–An easier outdoor faucet for older gardeners

The boiler drain–An easier outdoor faucet for older gardeners

 I have found over the years that there comes a time in a gardener’s life when simple things become more difficult. One of my clients, Micky, is an amazing gardener with a good sense of design and a feel for plants that allows her to grow any plant successfully. She has a beautiful yard and a small greenhouse to keep plants in over the winter. I love the view from her back deck:

Micky's beautiful back yard from the deck

Micky’s beautiful back yard from the deck

In the years since her husband died, Micky has developed a neat system for watering her plants. She didn’t want to continually drag hoses all over the place so she has carefully run a number of hoses under the perimeter mulched beds to strategic locations where they hook up to sprinklers in separate beds.  This way, all she would have to do is hook up a hose to the outdoor faucet and turn the water on.  This was all right for a while, but a year ago, I watched as she showed me her watering rituals and I noticed how hard it was getting for her to make her way through the shrubbery to the wall faucet and to change the hoses.  Over the years her fingers have become twisted for one reason or another, and she had to use a pair of pliers to tighten the connections.  I thought of an easier way. I used a hose adaptor to hook pvc pipe to the faucet and then ran a pipe under the deck to the railing at the steps. I put in a series of faucets (the proper name of this is a “hose bib”) so that we could hook up each of the hoses and she could turn on whichever one she wanted.  It looked like this:

outdoor faucets raised to deck level

outdoor faucets raised to deck level

Micky was delighted with this system because she no longer had to walk through the shrubbery or switch hoses around. All she had to do was turn on a faucet. Problem solved? Nope. She called up this spring to tell me that one of the faucet handles had broken and when I showed up to see about fixing it, I noticed that she was having a hard time turning the water on. A hose bib works with compression, and she was having trouble turning the water on and off. I felt bad when I saw her struggling to turn the handles with her bent fingers. I found that she was once again having to use pliers to do the job.

handles on hose bibs are hard to turn

handles on hose bibs are hard to turn

Another problem was that sometimes her yard man would leave the water running and she wouldn’t know it until there was a puddle in the yard.  I went to the Home Depot plumbing department to find a solution.  I believe in the “KISS” principle—“Keep it simple, stupid” and I searched for a solution that was simple, cost effective, and workable.  I found it. I decided to use a “boiler drain” which, as opposed to the hose bib which works on compression, works with a ball valve and operates with a simple quarter-turn of the handle.

The boiler drain makes an easy to use outdoor faucet

The boiler drain makes an easy to use outdoor faucet

I worked the mechanism and decided that this would definitely do the trick. Here’s the boiler drain without the tag.

There are also no washers to wear out in a boiler drain

There are also no washers to wear out in a boiler drain

I removed the hose bibs and proceeded to replace them with the boiler drains. Teflon tape is applied to the threads to keep the joint from leaking.  I always use teflon tape when threading any plumbing fitting. It really works.

teflon tape keeps plumbing joints from leaking

teflon tape keeps plumbing joints from leaking

The teflon tape is easy to apply and the prepared threads look like this when finished

teflon tape applied properly to avoid leaking

teflon tape applied properly to avoid leaking

The boiler drains have been installed. One of the things we immediately noticed was that Micky could now see if any water was turned on by just looking at the faucet. The sideways handles are off and the vertical handle indicates that the water is on.

easy to see which faucet is turned on. Sideways is on, up and down is off

easy to see which faucet is turned on. Sideways is on, up and down is off

Micky grinned as she reached down and turned the handle a quarter-turn. She said, “That’s easy, I love it.”

Much better. Easy to work this faucet.

Much better. Easy to work this faucet.

One of the hoses is hooked up to a pistol grip nozzle for cleaning purposes. It works just fine and there’s no bending over or crawling through the bushes to turn it on.

No dragging hoses, no bending over. Wow!

No dragging hoses, no bending over. Wow!

And here’s a not too good picture of the faucet hookup. I installed a boiler drain for any necessary hose hookup. In the winter, all that needs doing is to turn off the wall mounted faucet and open the ball valve at the bottom of the line to drain the pipes.

hook up detail. Note the ball valve for draining pipes in winter

hook up detail. Note the ball valve for draining pipes in winter

There’s at least one problem solved. Can you think of any other things that need to be made easier for older gardeners?

******

You may wish to visit two related articles:

1. Click here for directions for building a vegetable garden sprinkler

2. Click here for directions for building a really nice portable sprinkler

Would you like a consultation with johntheplantman in your yard? Contact John Schulz BY EMAIL

 These articles are brought to you by John P. Schulz, author of the novel, Requiem for a Redneck

As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. SoundEagle
    Aug 29, 2012 @ 04:58:07

    How wonderful and kind you are to help an elderly person to maintain her independence and to reap the joy of gardening!

    Reply

  2. twooofeathers
    Nov 19, 2012 @ 08:57:40

    I would like to know all the details so I could hook one up

    Reply

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