I had just got up when I saw the water meter reader lifting the cover on
the pavement to take a reading. I noticed he has a spray bottle of
something and assumed it was to clean the window of the meter.
Later I saw him going up the other side of the road and he was lifting
every cover and giving a squirt from the bottle even if he wasn't taking a
What could it be? I could only think maybe ant killer.
I had a water meter fitted only a couple of years ago, so I'm not
familiar with the problems facing a meter reader. However, I reckon that
ants could certainly be a problem.
Some 30 years ago, we needed the gate valve (under the kitchen sink,
where the water enters the house) replaced, and got a plumber to do it.
Obviously he would have to turn the water off at the outside stopcock,
so I thought I'd better check its condition. It was at the bottom of a
6" square, 2' deep 'mini-mineshaft', and I hadn't looked at it for ages.
I was alarmed to find that the 'mineshaft' was almost full to the brim
with fine sand - which presumably had been transported there by ants. So
I set about removing it.
Using a trowel and a spoon, it was easy at first, but it became
increasing difficult as I got further down - especially as my arm is not
quite 2' long. However, a little-used Hoover Junior vacuum cleaner was
pressed into service, using the sucking tube attachment. Near the bottom
of the mineshaft, the sand became increasingly damp and harder, and
therefore more difficult to suck up. However, I eventually I was able to
expose the stopcock.
So how did it get there? It certainly wasn't there when we moved here.
BTW, the soil is essentially heavy clay and flint - but when the ants
make a nest in the lawns, the create a small erupting 'volcano' of fine
sand at the entrance hole.
Sure, but they don't fill holes with sand.
I have a couple of holes like that, one for the lawn sprinkler taps
and one for the solenoid valve that was my kludge that avoided
me doing anything about the leak in the copper plumbing under
the concrete slab and plenty of ants, but neither of those filled
with fine sand.
That's an interesting point. I've long considered the "pavement"
stopcock an important backup for the house stopcock, and also important
for leaks between the pavement and the house, as you'll probably be
paying for any water lost through those.
In case access to the stopcock is needed in an emergency, maybe an
extension made from a round piece of plastic, fitting over the stopcock
and ending just below the cover plate could be left in place if ants
keep replacing the sand.
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