Frozen Water Line Meant a Frozen Something Else – January 15, 2022

No, I didn’t run yesterday, even if this didn’t happen, I wouldn’t have run. The temps and wind chills were too far below my safety zone. Yeah, life got in the way of running too.

The plumber having fun outside

After Friday night’s hellacious windstorm and sub-zero temps that made those temps even worse. When we went to bed, it was already -9*F, and with the winds blowing 40-50+ mph several times during the night when they woke me up. I know approximately what the wind speeds are from experiences — the sound the wind makes at those speeds sounds like a locomotive going by. 

It was not a night for man nor beast outside

We woke up to a frozen water line. Not good, and I have no one to blame but myself. 

Over the past couple of years, we have done well with the way we insulated underneath the house and haven’t had any issues (well, since the last time this happened). This year, I got lax and didn’t plug in the heat tape, and didn’t turn the water to a steady drip overnight.

Hence, a frozen water line.

We don’t often get the wind chills down in the minus 30-40*F range blowing directly on the side of the house where the waterlines are. However, it definitely happened Friday night – into early Saturday morning.

The temps outside were not fun. When the thermometer reads -7*F and the winds are kicking up around, it sucks laying on the snow-covered ground and the North winds at gale force blowing up your jacket because you are laying there holding a heat gun towards a frozen water line. I worked for two hours attempting to unthaw it with my heat gun. No such luck this time. I gave up and we called in Houle’s Plumbing. Surprisingly were able to get them to come over within a couple of hours.

We were not the only house that had frozen pipes.

The short gist was when the plumber unthawed the line, we had to shut the well pump off due to numerous leaks. He wasn’t impressed and had to return to Waterville to get the parts. While we closed up where the water lines were, the warmest it got at the house was 4*F and by the time he got everything reinstalled, the lines had re-frozen.

Of course, the portable space heater he had with him had frozen up as well and wouldn’t work when he attempted to fire it off. Yeah, he had to head back to the shop to get another one.

By the time he got back, it was dark, and another guy was with him to get this project done and over with. It took about 45 minutes for the line to unthaw again, and then they had to redo some work. However, by the time they left, we had water running into the house nicely (although it had an orange tint from the water heater getting a good cleanse). 

At their suggestion, we also had to go get a 12 gauge extension cord from Home Depot, since we found out that our outside outlet isn’t working either. Loads of fun with that. 

Needless to say, I plugged in the heat tape and started a steady drip in the faucet furthest from the water line into the house. Which will continue as a matter of course when the temps are below 15. 

There are a few projects that we will be doing when the Springtime gets here.

  • Fix outside outlet correctly
  • Have a plumber take a look at the main water line/shut-off valve into the house and see if they can re-do it, to something a bit sturdier than an angled piece of plastic at a critical junction point.
  • Cut new panels to replace the ones I broke getting them out, so I could get under the house
  • Buy one of those super-duper space heaters – just in case. It has to be cheaper than having

    a plumber make a weekend emergency house call.

Over the years, I have had all of these on my get-it-done list, but when nicer weather comes around, I found other priorities and/or forgot about the fact that these do need to be taken care of.

I learned numerous expensive lessons yesterday, but the worst part was that I had texted SD2 and advised her to turn the water on a little and then didn’t do it myself. Yeah, I knew most of them and didn’t think that our house would be having problems. 

However, when Mother Nature throws a bit of a tantrum and has high winds and sub-zero temps Fahrenheit, you best be doing things proactively. Otherwise, you get to have one of those days when you stress out, freeze your arse off, and spend a lot of money that I had other plans for.

Not a great day, but one that we survived, had heat all day inside, and things eventually worked out. We know we are lucky, the way that Mother Nature has been bashing humanity over the past few years, what happened to us was very minor.

Come with me now, the best is yet to be.

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