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Frozen Pipes and Freak Outs

Today started normally enough. I had a plan for my day and I was excited to take it easy. I got out of bed when my alarm went off at 8am and I got moving and ready to enjoy my morning until work in two hours.

I got out of bed, stumbled into the bathroom… and that’s where my plan changed.

I turned on the hot water tap and nothing happened. No water came out. I turned on the cold water. That worked. Shut it off, turned on the hot again and… nothing.

I got up and went downstairs. The same situation in every room with a faucet. No hot water anywhere in the house. Just disappointment and a bit of panic.

After some searching online, we turned on the faucets a quarter turn. Annie crawled under the house (since I can’t fit down there) and didn’t see anything amiss. Not that either of us know what a frozen pipe looks like.

You want me to go where?

We turned the temperature up on the water heater which was another step we found online. Which may have been our undoing. A bit later, we were staring at a hot water heater spewing steam! The faucets in our bathroom and kitchen started gushing hot water so we fixed the blockage! The leak was was behind the heater, in the small closet where it lives so we couldn’t get behind it to get a better look. So we couldn’t tell where it had broken or which pipe had the hole.

I turned off the power to the water heater (and furnace) with the switch there and cut the water into the hot water heater. And eventually the steam and water stopped.

I went out front to find the water main shut off for the house and located it, but was unable to turn off the main due to the cold or the valve not being turned in years or ???? My wife called a plumber and we got an appointment for the same day.

Thankfully turning off the water to the water heater stopped the steam and leak.

The plumber showed up about 45 minutes after we called and I gave him the back story (including the turning up the water heater part since I’m a firm believer in admitting to the stupid things I did so the plumber knows what he’s dealing with).

He was very nice and helpful and located where the leak was quickly. Unfortunately it was under the house in the crawl space. So he got to crawl down there over the plastic and gravel and into the small pond that formed under the house.

He was able to find the leak and patch the pipe leading from the water heater to the rest of the house.

All in all, we were back in business by about 1:30pm. We had hot water. We did not have a steam room.

I called two companies that offered quotes on insulating the crawl space and booked appointments with them for later this month. However, since the cold is still here, it was time for my new favorite store!

I went to Home Depot to get insulation for the pipes along with some other winter items (ice melt, work gloves, tarps).

I got home and awaited my wife’s return. Since unfortunately due to the size of the opening to the our crawl space, I’m not sure I could get down there (and back out again). So my wife had the unenviable job of crawling under the house and wrapping the insulation around the pipes down there. She also sopped up most of the water with towels.

She got home, bundled up and crawled under the house like a champ and insulated the pipes where we had the problem today so hopefully we don’t have a repeat performance.

My wife victoriously emerging from the crawl space.

The cover to our crawl space is plexiglass with Velcro to keep it on and I found it sitting in the yard this morning. We made it through the coldest part of winter thus far without any mishaps. Today, it’s my best guess that the cover blew off and the cold air got into the crawl space and cooled it enough to freeze part of the pipe and it was weak enough to rupture.

Now we have glorious hot water throughout our house (but not in or through the house). It has been a very exciting day as a homeowner but overall it was a minor repair and not nearly as bad as it could have been.

Published inIntrospection