Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Damages Fixed





My quiet morning waiting for things to warm up so I could begin digging us out and thawing which I posted about this morning was quickly and completely shattered.

Shattered that is in the form of busted PVC pipe everywhere.

It was my own stupid fault in two ways. One, I should have checked out my salamander heater back in November. And Two, I should have fixed that damned door to the basement that won't close properly years ago.

Those two over sights let that sub zero wind blow right in the crack of the door and turn the basement into a huge freezer. I have just never had to deal with wind that cold from that particular direction before.

So right after I posted this morning and went down to put the Ford on the charger my Mother comes screaming into the house complaining that she doesn't have any water for her horses and they must have water right damned now.

See this is the difference between my Mother and myself. I don't let things get to the point of an emergency but it was too cold for her to bother to fill the tanks the last few days because they always had enough.... Until they didn't. Then of course it was an emergency and everyone on earth better stop what they are doing and figure her problem out.

Well fine I guess I can always use another salamander so I went and bought one. It only took traveling to two towns and six stores before I found a place that wasn't sold out I might add. Three hundred dollars later I put together my new 75K BTU salamander and got to work thawing out the basement.

I mean I haven't had a shower in three days so I was kinda looking forward to having working plumbing again and all that jazz.

Now running a salamander in a wooden house is not something you just let go without on the spot supervision. Or at least I won't. The basement is concrete of course but the house above is all wood and I am not going to take the risk of a fire starting so I start the thing up and then begin cleaning and other busy work. Well the pipes unfroze alright which was when I was reminded that when they replaced the line leading to the barn they did it with PVC pipe. The rest of the house is copper which is all I will use.

As the frozen pipe thawed water spewed everywhere as that PVC pipe had cracked in about 20 places. Did I say cracked? Shattered would be a better word. Luckily who ever put that line in had the foresight to put a shut off on the copper part of the line so I shut it off and then started brainstorming what to do.

The second lucky break I had was that the line stopped being cracked a good inch or two before it went out through the wall and underground heading towards the barn. Had it cracked on the other side of the foundation wall we would be in deep trouble.

The section that busted comes down from the rafters off an elbow and drops about four feet before going through the foundation wall. The adapter bringing it from copper to PVC was also in good shape so I just cut the whole section out and sent my mother to the hardware store telling her to get one of each part on the section (2 elbows and a connector) and some pipe the same size with a coupler.

While waiting for her to make the trip I got the Ford out and bladed the drive and then cut a path to each feed lot so we wouldn't be pushing through waist high drifts. I also got the wife's car dug out and ready for her to start using once again and called my Dad who agreeably played taxi service and retrieved said wife from her workplace.

By 7:30 I had the house up above 75 degrees once again, the plumbing fixed and all frozen pipes thawed, even the kitchen sink was draining once again. All the stock tanks refilled and the drive with access points bladed, the wood stove cleaned and did a temporary fix on the damned door to boot. I then went so far as to dig the wife's car out from the drift that was too close to risk removing with the tractor, got her keys and drove said car in and out three times just to be sure it was all bladed down far enough so she could make it.

Her car sits low to the ground but she loves her convertibles.

Put all my tools away, remarked how much I love my solar motion detector LED light on my shop and threw so more wood in the furnace.

After all that the only thing I could think of was getting out of the long underwear/carhart attire I been wearing and take my first shower in almost three days then relax in warm comfort satisfied that all damages and emergencies were fixed and dealt with. I come inside, remove my muddy boots, take off my insulated overalls and hear water running in the shower.

Sigh, she beat me to it.....

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!



30 comments:

  1. Seems like you could go with steel pipe for a short lengths. Takes a different set of skills that I think more people would have than soldering the copper correctly.

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    1. Russ - I don't know I have never done steel pipe. There is some in this old house but it wasn't put there by me. The sections I have run have all been copper. I just like it better and it is still relatively easy to cut. I mean I actually like working with PVC but it tends to do what this section did when it freezes.

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  2. Many different solutions to the problem I'm sure you will come up with what works best for you.Sounds like a full day.

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    1. Steve - It's more an ad hoc thing right now. The plan is to basically turn this house into a storage building within the next year so I am not doing any more than I have to.

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  3. I feel your pain. BITTER COLD WEATHER SUCKS!!!

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    1. Rob - Ya especially when it hits ya with something new.

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  4. Relax. You've earned it.

    Are you going to do an after event analysis on what worked and what didn't? (Maybe I should say "Could you do an after event analysis? I'm curious.")

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    1. TB - Thanks. Maybe I am still looking into a few things.

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  5. I don't know if it's this area in general, or "new" electrical / plumbing fads, but it seems as if most of the plumbing lines are PVC and the electrical isn't even contained in those metal conduit tubes anymore, it's just coated in some heavy, bendy plastic or something. If we ever manage to get water to the barn(s) I'm definitely going to push Paul to splurge on some metal pipes. My sister's place just up the road had a leak from broken pvc water pipes running underground from the pressure tank outside to the house. Not a fun job for Paul.

    I'm going to try getting out of the driveway today with the shoebox. No real snow accumulations, but the drive/road is uphill and it's all ice, even the dually was slipping around last night.

    Stay safe & warm & enjoy that hot shower!!

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    1. Carolyn - We got about another inch of snow last night if you can believe it.

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  6. What a day, at least it ended successfully and it will be warmer today. Happy Happy Happy

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    1. SF - Been steadily warming here. Got down tot he teens last night but tonight it is well above freezing and getting warmer. They are predicting 50's by Sunday.

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  7. I know it was a lot of work, but the result is a better system, and heat, and - eventually - that hot shower you craved.

    Well done, sir.

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  8. Save water....shower with your wife! bahaha
    We are still waiting for things to thaw and see what is busted. We have carried a hammer and broke up water several times a day in the livestock pens and dogs water bowls. Had to carry water buckets as the lines to automatic water system is still frozen. We are supposed to be back in the70's Saturday for a couple of days and then remain in the 60's during the day. We have never had a freeze that lasted this long. Ours is usually a few hours at the most. It's been over 24 hours now.

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    1. MB - It's been years since I had a frozen pipe. Usually the only problem I see is a tank heater failing.

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  9. do you guys have PEX plastic pipes down there. it dosen't burst and is great for not building up deposits, which is nice here in saskatchewan where our water barely flows as it has so much dissolved minerals in it outside of the cities.

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    1. greyish white with a black inside surface here. I am told it can be different inside but I have only seen the black inside layer. it is great also as it is not susceptable to bursting when it freezes.

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    2. Dennis - I will have to look into it. When we finally get the new house built I will need to switch the pipes around anyway and give the barn water a straight run with a side tap I can turn off or on when needed for the house. That way I can leave the barn water running but keep the rest drained for the most part.

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  10. PP,

    Those PVC pipes........have you considered insulating them to help keep them from cracking. You've worked hard for a nice hot shower.

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    1. Sandy - Well I actually have some heat tape on them and a heat lamp I turn on but they didn't keep up or heat as large an area as they used to.

      I am redoing a few things now.

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  11. How long has the copper been there? If it hasn't been there forever and a day, you might wanna cut out a piece or two. Then cut it up and inspect it, before you go with copper; especially if that's not what all the local contractors and supply houses are using. The most important consideration in your plumbing system is your water chemistry.

    And some areas copper will last forever, in others it will be corroded away to junk in five years, or alternately completely calcified and clogged. In most places it will last somewhere between 5 and 50 years. it all depends on your water chemistry.

    Like Dennis said PEX generally will not bust from freezing. Specifically PEXa can be stretched about four times its original size, and will survive repeated freeze thaw cycles. The only place I've ever seen it fail from frost is at a fitting, which is in an easily accessible area anyway. How do you still have to worry about how your water likes your brass fittings and your fixtures.

    Best,
    Dan

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    1. Dan - Some of that copper pipe has been there for well over a decade. The lines to the shower have been there forever. The new lines to the kitchen I put in about 10 years ago and the lines to the washer I put in about 8 years ago.

      I have never noticed any issues with copper degrading here but I do have to flush the water heater every four years or so with muratic acid to get rid of the build up.

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  12. Is this the Gomer Pyle survival site?
    Not enough wood cut for unexpected colder than normal temps. Do dawing around for fixing doors that need it. You got a prep level four status, upper right.
    Really, what are you going to do when things get REALLY serious?

    You Know Who

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    1. Anon - Or should I say Beetle Baily? I am sure since you haven't a clue how much work and time things take you won't understand that prepping is never done. Then again obviously your powers of reasoning are undercooked as well.

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  13. Sorry you had damage but given the severity of the weather it would have taken superhuman luck to get off completely unscathed. I didn't and our weather,though the worst cold related in more than twenty years,was not as bad as yours.

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    1. Harry - Well it's really a matter of priorities. I do some repairs and stuff to this house but if things go the way the Wife insists they go we will be building our new house this year unless things fall apart. She doesn't want to throw a bunch of money into repairs of this house since it will become my bee keeping storage shed soon.

      However running a freeze free line through to the barn is now a priority.

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  14. Yeah... that was a rough few days of some pretty nasty cold weather. Freezing rain expected for us tomorrow. Some of the roads here are a little scary in good weather (think gravel rollercoaster + super sharp turns at the bottom of the steep hill).. add ice and most people have rediscovered religion.
    The old timers were betting this was going to be a wicked winter- they were right. Just hoping for a tame spring.
    Glad the pipes didn't bust past the foundation. That would have been a real catastrophe! When we first moved here the pipes were frozen and busted. You bounce back quick & are industrious. Always amazed at how much you tackle!
    Keep safe & stay warm!

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  15. A solid brand of, (thermostatically activated), liberally applied heat tape and well-placed insulation will prevent freezes in all pipes and drains -- it's the ounce of prevention -- and can save thousands in damage repair.
    A reliable generator makes for a ton of peace of mind.

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