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The following 'BRIGHT IDEAS' feature article authored by Max Burns appeared in the March 2002 issue of Cottage Life Magazine.

Coupling at the Lake

Black polyethylene (PE) pipe does a fine job of transporting water to the cottage from the lake, river, or well. Except when it leaks. With suction lines (where the pump draws water into the cottage), leakage is not a problem of water spilling out of the pipe but of air being sucked in. When it’s easier for the pump to draw air than water, it will. While this can put an end to that annoying drip at the kitchen tap, sadly it also means no more running water.
Leaks in intake lines most often occur at connections, such as where lengths of pipe join or where pipe meets pump. The typical connection consists of a barbed coupling held in place with a pair of hose clamps. Smart cottagers use two clamps per side, the even smarter ones insisting on stainless-steel clamps. To be honest, when new, this system doesn’t work too badly. Problem is, only the metal band on the clamp is stainless, leaving the screw that tightens the clamp prone to corrosion. And there are five bits to fiddle with and drop onto the beach, and the barbed coupling isn’t CSA approved so if it doesn’t hold out, too bad buddy.

 

Which brings me to the Hanflo fitting. Although this device has been making connections around New Zealand for more than a decade, it’s new to this continent. Re-engineered to meet North American standards and now CSA approved, this fibreglass reinforced nylon fitting makes a tight, leak-proof connection on PE pipe. The basic Hanflo fitting still relies on an integral barbed coupling but - and here’s the trick - it comes with a large nut permanently secured to each end. And - bonus - there’s a nearly endless assortment of T-junctions and elbows, some with a threaded end, for easy attachment to a tap or pump. Tap or wiggle the fitting into the pipe and then simply turn the nuts. The nuts self-thread onto the PE, pulling the pipe back onto the coupling making for a secure compression fit. As the Hanflo fitting is designed to withstand pressures that exceed pipe ratings by a factor of three, it becomes one of the last places you would look for a leak. All this at about the same price as the four-hose-clamp-and-barbed-coupling combo ($4.70 for the 3/4" fitting, $5.70 for the 1" version).

Disconnecting or removing the Hanflo fitting is about as big a pain in the pipe as disconnecting the ubiquitous hose-clamp affair, the reason I opt for Philmac/Polygrip fittings when I need something that readily disconnects and reconnects season after season. A joy to use, really. But at 15 smackeroos for the 1" connector, no joy to buy. Fortunately, Hanflo Corporation is working on a two-piece union that takes advantage of the Hanflo design, making for an economical fitting that will easily and repeatedly connect and disconnect - a dream come true for parsimonious cottagers. (Like there’s another kind?) Hanflo fittings are available direct from Heat-Line, Carnarvon, Ont., 800-584-4944, www.heatline.com.

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