The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

DIY plumbing


Photo: Plumber's bag

Photo: Plumber's bag

I’ve nearly finished the planting in the newly made over garden but the long hot summer has wrecked the grass. With Lynn Keddie  – the photographer – arriving in a few weeks time I’ve been repairing and reseeding the lawn. If it doesn’t rain the lawn has to be watered twice a day. So I invested in a Hozelock Aquastorm 17 oscillating sprinkler. At its best it will water a giant 200 sqm.

The water pressure from our outdoor tap is not very good and when I set the sprinkler in action it barely covered a measly 4 square meters. As the water pressure in the rest of the house is quite good I wondered whether the isolating valve that led to the garden tap had been partially closed. The screw type opener on the valve was locked tight and I sprayed it with penetrating oil. Danny eventually managed to shift it a teeny bit and found that he had inadvertently closed the valve. And it was clear that this was the last move the screw would make as the edge of the screw had sheered to nothing. Panic. No outside water.

In the olden days I would have called a plumber immediately but I had a snoop in Homebase and discovered that a new valve was under a fiver and only needed spanners to fit it. I located the mains tap and switched off the water to the cottage and removed the old valve using my favourite tool.

But then all happy chortles stopped. What I didn’t know was that one of the old olives was damaged and how hard it is to remove an olive from a pipe. In fact until that point the only olives that I’d heard of were those that grow on trees.

I tried all the suggested methods, from trying to cut the olive with a junior hacksaw to the unwritten hopeless method (weeping with frustration and rage). Then I trawled the Internet to find the best discounts on an olive remover – Amazon came up trumps with this one – Monument 2030b Olive Removing Tool. So I’ve added a vital tool to my sparse plumbing kit. There are some great sites on the Internet that give detailed instructions for simple plumbing jobs so it’s worth checking out whether you can fix a problem yourself before lifting the phone and calling a plumber.

Meanwhile the water pressure has improved and the oscillating sprinkler is performing much better.

  Leave a reply


  1. Emerald Plumbing

    Often times, people don’t realize how easy it is to fix their own plumbing needs.

  2. Kooky Girl

    Well done you for having a go yourself. Having spent a fortune on a builder ourselves for Labour of Love, we are now down to doing the rest ourselves. That means everything: the plumbing, the electrics, the decor, the tiling, the paining, the sanding, the varnishing – lol ! You get the picture… and we’re all the more prouder of the place for it.

  3. Tamar always makes me laugh.

    The last time Steve and I attempted plumbing together, and I mean the l*a*s*t time, we were trying to replace the ballcock valve on the toilet. He struggled with it, I struggled with it, and finally gave up in disgust and fury and settled down with a whiskey. The next day, the plumber comes and takes one look at the packaging on the ballcock and says oh yeah – their instructions are wrong and this is where- you should have done it this way. So, as long as we can afford a plumber, we’ll call one.

    It would be that, or a marriage counselor, and I’m not sure which is cheaper. I’m pretty sure that the plumber woulldn’t invite me to explore my feelings, though.

  4. donnyrob

    yup, i agree. plumbers charge a dick turpin ammont of money. havin got old pipework an a boiler that need t.l.c a set of spanners an the internet is far more healthy on the pocket.

  5. Amazing what fun you can have when you don’t have the money 🙂

  6. Tamar@StarvingofftheLand

    I suppose that I shouldn’t admit the extent of my plumbing ignorance by confessing that, when I read that you needed an olive removal tool, I wondered why on earth you’d been pouring your martinis down the sink.

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