Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Water is Still Not My Friend - The Frozen Pipes Saga

Don't get me wrong - I love water. I love the ocean, I love looking at lakes, and I love looking at the moving water of rivers and streams. It's personal water that I have a problem with - plumbing water; the water that enters pipes into homes. Of course I have a long history of plumbing issues, but what we're going through right now may well take the cake (so to speak).

The ceiling leaks were actually resolved by Sunday...but that's just one problem. 

A small bit of background. We are currently responsible for three houses and my business. We are also experiencing what may well turn out to be the coldest winter in 30 years. And we've had a bunch of snow. So far (knock on wood and hope that a check-in this morning will prove me right), my father-by-marriage's house pipes seem to be holding up in this cold. I've been turning the faucets on and off and flushing the toilet whenever I've dropped by after a real estate agent has been through with a potential buyer. I'm hoping that proves to remain true when DH drops by this morning.

The goal of plumbing is to have water come from faucets and have toilets
flush appropriately. Frozen pipes tend to get in the way of this goal.

And, for a change, my own house is not experiencing a leaking roof, a backed-up water system or frozen pipes - at least so far.

And the leaks in the ceiling of my shop seem to finally have been stopped after several more days of dripping into the five-gallon buckets that I think I'll just keep in their current locations for a few more months (no long-term faith about my roof, added to a long history of leaks, both small and seriously large).

Which leave my grandmother-in-law's house. We've been renovating this house in our 'spare' time to put it on the market later this year. It needs a hell of a lot of work. We hadn't been over for a while, but usually are there every few days. It had been mid-week last week when DH had last been there and he always opens the taps and lets them flow. He dropped by on Saturday, three days later, and ... no water. None. Of course we tried heating the pipes (for several hours) and only got the system to drain out, but no new water flow. It was beyond our abilities. So....

Love this glass water faucet. So innovative. 

On Monday morning I contacted St Paul Regional Water Services and was pushed through to dispatch who added us to a long list of frozen pipe people. Around 11:30 am or so on Monday they called and I sent DH over there. He was there for the rest of the day and I had to hold down the shop solo - not easy and not comfortable, but I can usually manage if things don't get too busy.

The Water Department worked on it for most of Monday afternoon and determined that the frozen pipe was at least 15 feet from the house toward the street. OK...fine. But then they had to leave because a local community center was also experiencing frozen pipes and they had children who needed water. They would be back with us on Tuesday after they got the Community Center resolved.

I had three St Paul Regional Water Services trucks in front of my little
house when I drove by last night on my way home. I can't fault the guys -
they're really trying. They're just not succeeding! *sigh*

Tuesday - they called me around 11:00 and I called DH (Tuesday is a day off for him) who rushed over to let them in. It was three trucks and several guys and they worked on our pipes all day. They got a 50-foot hose and determined that the pipe was frozen past that point. They left and returned with a 100 foot hose which also didn't work. They put in for a call for some sort of electrical vehicle (beats me...I don't understand how this is working) but it can't arrive until today some time. 8:30 pm they wrapped it up and they'll be back today. DH finally got home just before 9:00 pm.

So, yesterday I had three St Paul Regional Water Department trucks in the street in front of my house, and today I'll likely have four. I'm giving up my day off because I have to work so that DH can be there with the guys. So far they've broken one window and two light bulbs. DH is stressing out, I'm stressing out, and it's like a comedy of errors or the Keystone Cops in action. Oy!

None of these instructions would have helped us. Our block is much closer to
the main and way past the house. We were doing everything right inside, but
it still didn't help. 

The water department guys said they're seeing the frost line down 6-1/2 feet. Since most house plumbing lines are about five feet under the soil, I foresee a very busy remainder of the winter for these guys. And I just hope we can get crossed off their list by the end of today so that I can take my day off on Thursday instead of today. Anyone know of a warm condo in a nice, safe, southern state that I can move to? LOL *headdesk*.

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