Yow..

cold weather

The pipes going to my bathrooms run through the middle of the basement, so nowhere near exterior walls.The only pipes I’d have to worry about that with are the ones to my kitchen. And I had never considered that before now… But the water coming out doesn’t seem extraordinarily cold, so maybe it’s not an issue.

Frozen pipes!

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I know the tips to keep from freezing — kept water trickling, didn’t put furnace down, kept cupboards open. We have a frozen pipe. It’s still frozen — I’ve spent all morning trying to get it unfrozen. Tried turning the main water off, but for some reason it’s still running to other parts of the house — so my valve must not be working. Praying and praying it loosens soon. Unfortunately, this particular pipe freezes every other winter and this time all of the tricks in my arsenal couldn’t combat -40 degree windchill. The frozen pipe is behind drywall somewhere in our basement (the pipe runs the length of the basement, though I’m not sure the exact path it takes -but likely along one of the outside walls somehow). Because of this, I can’t apply direct heat, so just take the space heater downstairs and crank it up. It’s warmish down there — hopefully it will loosen without bursting the pipe – since the shut off valve isn’t cooperating, I’ll need to get that checked into, but I’d rather it not be with an emergency plumber!

Furnaces only last 15 years?

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I’ve been in this house for 13 years, and the furnace was old when I moved IN. Not sure how old, though. My water heater has an inspection sticker from 1995, so it’s at least 18 years old. But at $4000 for the furnace, it won’t replaced for a WHILE…

One hint on keeping water pipes from freezing in cold weather

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– open each tap enough for a thin stream of water to come out, and let that run all night long. For those combination hot/cold faucets, open up both sides enough that a little water is flowing through both sides. Since it’s difficult (and annoying) to have the toilet running all night, drink a lot of water right before bed so that you have a compelling reason to get up in the night to pee and flush. And if water lines are coming into the house along an outside wall, contained within a cabinet, open the cabinet doors before bed so that warm interior air can circulate within that compartment so those lines don’t freeze. I don’t have any sneaky hints for the washing machine lines; wish I did. And finally, if lines do start to freeze, get a heat lamp shining on them ASAP. Even 30min of that can often free up the lines before they freeze enough to burst the lines. Letting those blocked lines stay blocked, only allows more and more water in the line to freeze, thus taking longer to free up later.
If copper water lines do freeze and burst, and you can reach them, there’s a very easy way to fix them. A small brass widget called a compression fitting, can be used to replace the burst section of line. Any hardware store worth the name will know what a compression fitting is. Go to the hardware store with a sample of your plumbing tubing (to check for size), and they’ll be able to get you a compression fitting that will fit, along with a pipe cutter that will allow you to splice it into place. All told, that repair should cost less than $10 for a pipe cutter and compression fitting, then perhaps a few more dollars for each additional fitting.
These lessons (and more) have been very patiently but thoroughly given to us over the years, courtesy of our nearly 100 year old farmhouse. If anyone needs more detailed information, email me offlist. We spent the first 10 winters here with our lines frozen at least a few days each winter. This winter is hopefully (knock on wood) our first without a single line break. Hope everyone is able to stay warm tonight…….