Uh Oh


I wasn’t able to go up to the house Christmas and New Year’s week so I’m anxious to get up to the house and spend some time.  I head on up and will just be there today and come back tonight.

I arrive and the house is toasty warm, except the kitchen.  It’s 55 degrees in here.  I have the thermostat set on 62 so I’m wondering why it’s 55.  Maybe the electricity went off for a while.  The heater in the kitchen is electric.  The rest of the house is toasty warm.  Just like usual.

I go to turn on the kitchen sink and there is no water.  Uh oh.  The pipe wrap worked for -14 and a week of nothing above 6 degrees but it appears maybe it doesn’t like -30.  I go down in the cellar and nothing seems to be leaking. I try to turn the water off and I can’t turn the spigot.  I don’t think the heater has been coming on but the heat wrap is working so it should be ok.  I find a little piece of ice on one of the pipes. Hmmmm? It could just be condensation.

I Call Sandy and tell her I have no water.  She says some of the water meters in town have been freezing so 90 percent it’s probably outside.  Jerry is gone so they will come over as soon as he gets back.  I know that will be at least an hour because of course we are 30 minutes from anywhere.

I have the heater and heat lamp turned on now but after an hour I try the water and I hear a little something but no water comes out.  I’ll wait a little longer.  Another half hour goes by and I hear a little something more but no water.  Oh honestly, I’m all nervous and it’s upsetting my stomach.  NOT NOW!!  I search around and figure out an aluminum square pan fits nicely under the lid of the toilet and can be used as a chamber pot.

Jerry gets home and he and Sandy come over and check the meter.  There is water there so not looking good.  We all go down in the cellar and Jerry tries the spigot.  It does turn a little now but not much.  Now we think the main is frozen before the heat wrap and everything else.  They have a heater that will heat up the room in about 20 minutes so they run get it and bring it back and plug it in.

The heater is running and I have the kitchen and bathroom faucets open so when it starts running I will hear it and hopefully it won’t blow a pipe.  All of a sudden the I see the gas truck pull up. I’m wondering why because I thought when he filled it a month and a half ago he said it would last until summer.  He asks if I want it checked and I say yeah, let’s check it out. I’ve used 190 gallons in a month and a half.  Ugggg, I just paid for the last fill.  Oh well, better safe than sorry.  I have him fill it.  He again says it will last until summer.  I ask him if he knows any good plumbers who will come out.  He says he doesn’t.  I had one plumber come out but didn’t want to call them again (see previous blog).

I have been waiting for about an hour and all of a sudden water starts flowing.  Hurray, I run down to the cellar to make sure nothing is broken and water is spraying everywhere. The floor is already about a 1/4 inch and filling fast.  It’s a dirt floor so some fun there.  I quickly turn the water off and I don’t waste any time unplugging the heater and getting it out of there.  Good thing the water wasn’t near the bottom of the heater yet.  I would have been standing in electric water.  Hmmm, the light was on earlier and I notice it’s not on.  I go back down in the cellar and decide it’s probably better if the light isn’t right under where the water was shooting out.  I touch the bulb to move it and it shatters.  I hope the electric isn’t wet.  I turn the switch off and I don’t smell anything so I think it’s ok.

Sandy and Jerry come back over and we go down and there is a pipe popped at the joint.  Sandy turns on the water and Jerry has his thumb over the pipe and it appears that is the only leak.  I decide I should turn off the water heater because I don’t know how long the pipes have been frozen and I don’t know how much water is left.

Oh boy, what to do now.  I don’t want to call the plumber I had before.  I have a name from one of the neighbors (my mail carrier) and Sandy remembers she met a guy at the hardware store and he gave her a card.  It is really hard to get anyone to come out here.  It seems silly to me as it really isn’t that far.  I call the first one and leave a message.  I call the second one just in case I never hear from the first one.  The first one’s Dad went to school here and he will come out.  The second one supposedly doesn’t live too far away so he will too.  The first one calls me back and he is really busy.  He can’t get to it for a couple of days.  I tell him I have another number but if he doesn’t hear from me to consider that it’s his job and if anything changes I will get back to him.  He’s $85 and hour and thinks it will take 3 hours at the most.  I’m assuming he is counting travel time.  The second one calls me and he says when can we do it if it’s not tonight or the morning.  I tell him I would just take time off work and come up whenever he is available.  I ask him how much he charges.  He says $120 an hour.  He says it sound like a 30 to 40 minutes job.  I think his time starts when he gets here.  I tell him I have talked to another guy so maybe I’ll just use him.  I’m quickly trying to decide if I want to pay $85/hr or $120/hr.  I quickly decide if he can do the job in 40 minutes it will be cheaper than $85 at two hours at least.  He asks would it work if he came out at 7:00 the next morning.  I’m good with that.  I can get the job done, get back down home and still get to work at 12:30.  OK.  I’m just glad I found someone who will come out.

I haven’t planned on staying the night.  I had debated on whether I should bring stuff up and I didn’t.  Lesson learned.  Always be prepared.  Well, I have heat and food and electricity.  Sandy offers me to stay at their place but I say no, it will be like camping.  I have everything but the toilet and I’ve already figured out the chamber pot thing.  Hey, Sandy has a great idea.  We go to her house and load up with 5 gallons of water so I can use it for flushing.  She loans me something to sleep in and off I go.  All set for the evening.

I get up early the next morning and at 7:00 the phone rings and the plumber says he’s on his way and will be about 10 minutes late.  Ok, nice start.  He calls so I’m not wondering whether he is showing up or not.  He gets there and it appears the join in the pipe was never soldered.  He says that is common for older plumbing up in that area.  He says in the schools and other building it’s common and when this happens it floods fast.  It does take him about 30 minutes to fix it and we turn the water back on and doesn’t seem to be leaking anywhere else.  I tell him about the leak in the drain and he looks and says “oh, just get some ABS glue and that will fix it right up.”  Thank you!!  He could have told me some story about needing to fix it and charging me.  He comes in the house and makes sure the water heater pilot is back on and turns the heater back on.  He really was a very nice guy.  I’m sure I have found a plumber!!  He just charges me for an hour and no parts since it was such a small piece of pipe.

Sandy brings the heater back over and plugs it in and this week I will search for one.  It’s an infrared heater and they are much more economical to run that a ceramic heater.  The brand is edenpure.  It’s a portable space heater that will keep the room warm.  The plumber says he has two and Sandy has two.  I will check them out and see what I can find this week.  I’m also thinking about getting a strip door to put at the bottom of the stairs over the entrance to help keep the cold out and the heat in.  If anyone has any ideas please let me know.  I leave the faucets dripping and the cupboards open even though it didn’t freeze inside the house.  Maybe it will help.

He gets on his way and I get on mine and arrive back in time to get ready and make it to work on time.

Just one more adventure!!




About pbodwell

Master Gardener; Nat'l Award Winning Photographer; Garden Writer; Artist - art books, print maker, hot glass, wire jewelry designer; sometime quilter; new homesteader; bee keeper; very crafty; Baseball fan, enthusiast, and researcher; all things vintage
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