Adventure in Problems

Episode #554

September 14, 2019

Life is full of problems.

A computer is hung up. Traffic is too heavy and you are late. You have an unexplained pain. The sprinkler valves keep sticking in the ON position.

A problem is a statement which begs for a solution.

Adventure is a string of solutions which lead from one problem to another. Solutions lead one from another to the conclusion of an adventure.

i had a sprinkler system made up of 12 hose end water valve timers.  They were connected to 5 hose risers around my property.  When more than one timer was connected to one riser i used brass splitters to gang them up.  Doctor Frankenstein had nothing on me.  The plumbing was a maze, but it worked.

Each of these valves were battery operated and individually programmed. Each valve went to a separate drip zone.

Problem 1: The timer valves would stick in the open position.

This sticking-on problem prevented me from going on an extended trip.  i could not turn off the water or the plants would die.  i could not trust the valves to not flood my yard for days, wasting water, drowning the plants and overloading my well pump. On the other hand, if the valves flood i can take that fishing trip in my front yard.

Solution 1: Since the valves were failing due to sediment wedging the solenoid open i had a sediment filter installed on my well.

Problem 2: The valves batteries would fail and sometimes sediment would get past the filter.  The result is that the valves would still occasionally stick open and sometimes not work at all.  There is no maintenance procedure for these inexpensive valves. Same problem. i am stuck at home for fear of killing my plants.

Solution 2: i had high quality in-ground valves installed which are connected to AC power and an Internet operated controller.

Problem 3: Shortly after the in ground valve installation two of the valves failed slightly in the on position.

Solution 3: i Googled the problem and found a procedure for flushing the valves. The most that would have to be done is to disassemble the valve, clean it and put it back together.  It turns out that this type of valve will clear a sediment blockage by simply turning it on and off a few times.  i cycled the valves on and off a few times and the problem cleared.  In fact, had i done nothing they would have cleared on their own.  Additionally, if while i am on vacation my pet caretaker sees any sign of flooding, i can cycle the valves from my iPhone wherever i am in the world.

i concluded that dirt in the PVC at the time of installation must have clogged the valves since they have not stuck open since the original incident.

i am now free to travel.

Each problem statement is an invitation to find a solution.

When a problem occurs, state it.  Analyze it. Try a solution. If the solution does not work, return to analysis.  This is the scientific method and it works.

Life is an adventure and the scientific method is your personal guidebook.

i admit that i have thrown my hands up in dismay at some of the problems in my life. 

When i lower my hands and put my brain forward, solutions tend to follow.

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