January was cold. Bone cold. Colder than a witch’s teat cold. So cold in fact that I came home one evening and we had no running water in the house.
I like running water. I also like the grid. As much as I like planning, thinking and researching the lifestyles of self-sufficient people and thinking through the implications of the impending zombie apocalypse, most days I just like power and water to work at the flip of a switch. I’m soft like that.
When I came home to no running water and Bryon was still at work, I was bummed. I’m not too mechanically inclined. I walked through the house trying all of the faucets. I’m not sure why I thought that maybe one of them WOULD work, but there you go.
None of them did.
I called Bryon, and he suggested I go out to the barn and see if the well pump had frozen. If the water worked in the barn but not the house, then at least the well was okay. Luckily that was the case, which meant that the water to the house was frozen somewhere.
We leave the garage door up a lot for the dogs. Basically, our two-car garage is one giant dog kennel/chicken coop. Yeah, it’s disgusting.
Our hot water heaters, water softener etc. are all out in the garage. That day it was around a -25 degree windchill so I left the garage door up about a foot and a half so Belle and Rosie could be inside and out of the wind. They have a dogloo out in the kennel but it just seemed too cold.
Good choice for the pets. Bad choice for the pipes.
The water softener bypass valve froze in the cubby under the stairs in the garage.
When Bryon got home, he turned off the water and we managed to thaw out the pipes with hair dryers while he called our plumber for more advice. We didn’t know how far the pipes had frozen or how much damage was actually done. Like under the house damage even.
Once the bypass was thawed, Bryon could see where it had also broken. He clamped the valve off and turned on the water so we could get quick showers and fill the tubs while he watched the clamp to make sure it didn’t slip off and flood the garage, making an even bigger mess.
Grace hopped in the shower, and I scurried around to get the tubs filling. A few minutes later water started pouring through the can lights above our kitchen sink from upstairs. I yelled for Bryon to turn off the water but it was too late. Our kitchen ceiling was already showing signs of flooding and still leaking water.
We went upstairs to investigate to discover the entire upstairs bar was flooded and water had soaked through the floor and the downstairs ceiling.
In my quest to find running water earlier, I had inadvertently left the bar sink faucet on and the sink stopper had fallen into the stopped position. The sink had filled and then flooded the bar.
I had basically made a not-that-bad situation much worse.
We used every towel in the house to soak up the mess, then Bryon unscrewed six sheetrock screws in the kitchen ceiling and four gallons of water poured out into strategically placed buckets on the floor. What a freakin’ mess!
He peeled back the carpet upstairs, and we started fans blowing on and under it to try to dry things out.
Grace always made fun of all of my gallon jugs of hoarded water in our zombie apocalypse closet until she realized she liked flushing toilets. Luckily we have a small (although disgusting) shower in the barn, and since that water was just fine our there, we could get clean and refill jugs as needed.
Bryon called Kenmore (the water softener brand), and they over-nighted a new bypass valve, which we hoped would fix our problem without further need for a plumber.
Eight dollars and twenty-four hours later we got it in the mail, and Handy Dandy Bryon got it installed in a jiffy. SUCCESS!
Another fifty dollars to restretch the carpet and tack it back down after if finally dried out, and we were back in business. So far the ceiling has dried just fine. At least on the outside. Hopefully we won’t have a bloom of mold anytime soon. Fingers crossed!
What a week.
On a bright note, Grace got to enjoy a few nights of having all of the beasts in the house as the cold continued.
God, I can’t wait until spring.