Problem Solving – (Or, We Could Just Throw Money at It)

There are a lot of problems you can solve with the correct equipment, tools, know how, and people.  But there are other times a simpler more effective solution is to just throw money at the problem.

Working on the power houses at the Grand Coulee Dam, I had to run some conduit from one side of a building to the other.  My conundrum had to do with the fact that there was a poured concrete wall between the rooms.  The wall extended all the way up to the roofline.

I contacted a concrete cutting company and received a quote to cut some holes in the 8” thick wall.  The next concern was, “what is in the walls that might be hit while cutting the holes?”  Possible choices were electrical wiring, gas lines, steam lines, etc.  Sometimes there are vibration sensors installed in concrete walls, especially in bank walls.

About that time I discovered some previously existing holes in the wall.  They were about 10 feet away from my planned access point.  I conferred with the engineers on the dam and asked if those holes could be used or if they were for another specific purpose.  I explained the problems we might run into trying to penetrate the wall, as well as the extra expense that would be involved in re-routing my planned run.

The engineers agreed with me that the better idea would be to use the existing holes.  It cost a little more for conduit, wire and labor, but cost wasn’t the only consideration.  It was the unknown in the wall.   The solution cost a little more in labor and materials, but it all worked out.

On another job I was running electrical power to some truck scales at a truck stop.  I had to go out of the office building, through a concrete sidewalk, under an asphalt parking area and driveway to the scales.

We obtained a saw to cut the asphalt all the way, but I had to hire a company to cut through the sidewalk.  They cut a slice out of the sidewalk all the way across its width.  We ran our conduit and poured the slice shut with fresh concrete.  We hired an asphalt company to replace the asphalt after our work had been inspected.  Nothing to it, all that was required was enough money!

Right next door to the truck stop we were hand digging in soil in order to run conduit and wiring to some storage sheds.  The sheds were new construction.  When my apprentice came across a black plastic pipe, I decided it was an abandoned water line and told him to cut it.  He took a shovel and sliced it clean in two.

Bad decision.

It was 100 pair of telephone wires.

We had to throw money at it.