Sunday, December 21, 2008

Cold enough to freeze the pipes!

Well, what a night this has been!! I remember being in the kitchen this morning and washing my hands at the sink, realizing I had the cold water on - which was VERY cold, by the way! After that, I can't remember when I used the sink again. I was busy cleaning the living room, kids' rooms, and bathroom. It was so terribly, bitterly cold today that I never even cracked the door. I think 8° was our high - yuck!!!

Late this afternoon, I decided to get the dishes into the dishwasher. I had to rinse several that had been sitting awhile. As I was rinsing, I realized that there was a LOT of steam rising out of the sink. The water seemed to get hotter and hotter. I turned the handle toward the cooler side, but no change. Hmmm. So I turned it completely to cold - not a drop came out! I called my brother, who insisted it couldn't be frozen pipes - must be a clog in the supply line. So he had me disconnect the water supply from the main line under the sink. No luck. I looked at it, and asked him how it was going to bring out cold water turning on the faucet when it wasn't hooked up. Not understanding me, he had me explain what I meant by that. Well, apparently I was supposed to SHUT OFF the cold water before disconnecting the supply line. Whoops. What sucks is that there is NOT a cold water shut off valve on that sink!! Not only that, but the pipes are inside the OUTSIDE wall! Grrrrr....why do many builders not THINK when they build?????

Anyway....I just knew it was frozen, and set about trying to figure out what to do. I called a plumber, who actually told me that my copper pipes were already cracked from freezing, and there was nothing we could do. He told me to call him tomorrow after it broke and I had water everywhere and he would help me then. Hmmmmmph!! Well, I figured I had to TRY and save myself the nightmare of a broken water pipe. So I got under the sink with my little hair dryer, and put a space heater downstairs against the offending wall, moving ceiling tiles to allow warm air to float upwards. I also turned on the hot water at the sink full blast, hoping the hot water was close to the cold water pipe. I used my dryer for over an hour when my husband offered to take over so I could actually fix dinner. He managed to set the dryer so that it was propped up on a dishsoap bottle, aimed straight downward as much as we could get it. He agreed with my theory that copper/metal conducts heat, so maybe we would eventually reach the frozen part. And a different plumber told me that if I got it thawed out, I might have a chance at avoiding a bursting pipe. I HAD to try!!

About an hour later, we got a drip out of the faucet. Then another. And another. I got excited. We kept blowing the dryer and watching the faucet. It dripped faster....and then out came a stream. I ran downstairs to check for leaks and DH yelled out that we had full water pressure. I checked every wall and every ceiling tile - NO LEAKS!! We checked outside - nothing there, either. We did it!!!! We thawed the pipe and it did not break! I can't even explain the degree of my relief when the water started working again. I had been soooooo stressed out, trying to figure out where to move all our stuff, just in case, and where to get the $1,000 insurance deductible, and how we were going to live without water for however long until we could get a plumber out to repair, etc, etc, etc.

So now I have all the sink cabinets open and water running in a small stream from every sink in the house. It's going to be below zero tonight and I do NOT want to go through this again. Frozen pipes are NEVER a good thing, and I am so very thankful that we solved the problem with no major problems or expenses. I firmly believe that God knew I couldn't handle another crisis this week, so He let me avoid this one. I have been thanking Him all night!!!

So, my advice to anyone reading this? When the weather is frigidly cold, open your cabinet doors to let heat under the sink, and run a trickle of water at all times. It could save you a LOT of stress!!!!