January Snowpacolypse & Frozen Pipes

I’m sure by now that you have heard about, or are living through, the huge winter storm that has been lingering in the Midwest. We received 10″ of snow on Sunday and then the temperatures started to drop that night. And they have continued to drop ever since. Here is a look at the weather right now. Outside temp is -11*F and the wind chill (real feel) temp is -39*F. Cold, right? The coldest wind chill we have experienced is closer to -50*F, but when it gets into the negatives can you tell a difference in 10*?2014-01-07 09.17.49Jeff and I went to lunch on Saturday and decided a quick trip to the grocery store was in order if we were going to live through this storm. Naturally, we only picked up the essentials.

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Our downfall was mentioning our horde of essentials on facebook because we soon after had a sneak snow ball attack! Our neighbors pelted our front windows and outer door with snow balls, trying to take our skittles. But our barricades held strong. The skittles were safe.

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Driving was not suggested, as you can imagine. The roads were slick and the visibility was lessening with every hour.

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On Sunday our front door had taken fall to a huge snow drift. This was around 4’5″ tall, blocking the front door. It was especially fun to dig out….everyone LOVES to spend their days digging through large snow drifts. Jeff and I tried to be as prepared as we could be. We went outside and shoveled/snow-blowed (snow-blew?) three times on Sunday, so we could keep on top of the snow. And, luckily, it worked! We never had more than 3″ in the driveway and thankfully, it was a very light and powdery snow that wasn’t heavy to move out of the way. Yesterday and today we have been on a Level 3 Snow Emergency. In a nutshell this means you don’t drive unless 100% necessary. If you are hospital personnel – you drive. If you are a plow driver – you drive. If you are a Realtor or a University employee – you keep your ass at home and don’t drive. So, Jeff and I have had a few snow days! Today the Level 3 is still there, so we aren’t going anywhere anytime soon it seems.

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One of the things you learn pretty early on living somewhere that the winters reach sub-zero temps, is that you never want your pipes to freeze. Never. They can freeze and then burst, creating a massive headache of broken pipes and water, water everywhere. Some of the things you can do to prevent this are to leave your cabinet doors open under sinks-to let the warm air circulate, you also should leave your faucets on a slow, steady drip-moving water doesn’t freeze so this will prevent freezing. Now, where I ran into trouble last night is with the washing machine. The pipes are on an outside wall (call to danger for frozen pipes!) and I thought that I was keeping up on running the washer often enough that the pipes wouldn’t freeze. Then, there was the time that I forgot to run the washer. Really, I did have an alarm go off to remind me, then I accidentally forgot about it. The washing machine pipe hadn’t had water running through it in about 12 hours. And in mega negative temperatures, this was a huge fuck up.

When I tested the washer there was no water movement. I went into the crawl space and felt the pipes and couldn’t find anywhere that it felt frozen, everything was cool-but no more than it should be, given the outside temperatures. Even though I didn’t find anything frigid, I still sat in the crawl for over an hour trying to warm up the pipes with my hair-dryer. Yes, I was sitting on the uneven dirt in my spider and dead bug infested crawl space with a hair-dryer on a pipe. The water still didn’t run to the washer.

I gave up. I got angry. I got pissed. I got sad that the pipe may burst. Then I remembered that there is a huge hole in the drywall that we inherited when we bought the house and it had direct access to the pipes to the washer. I removed the insulated and I found the frigid and frozen pipes! Not that I wanted to find frozen pipes, but at least I knew where the issue was. I sat and blew the warm air on the pipes.

2014-01-06 21.35.45I did that for over 40 minutes, on a few different parts of this pipe, with no water flow. OMG. So I took another break to freak out and cry that I had let this happen. Then I gave it one more go and I sat there and listened to my ipod and tried to forget this had happened for a minute when I heard it. RUNNING WATER. Thank goodness, the water had thawed in the pipe and was flowing into the washer!

I listened as the entire cycle ran its course and I waited for the moment to hear the water flow into the drain. This was the next pipe that I had prayed had not frozen. The washing machine drain pipe froze last January and that was hellish enough. The drain pipe worked and everything was happy from there on our.

I disconnected the washing machine water line and put them on a steady drip into the machine to keep the pipe from freezing.
Now, with three faucets downstairs on a steady drip this had made the restroom stops more frequent for sure.

Holy hell. Have you had any issues with the cold?
Have you ever had pipes freeze?

Comments

  1. I’m so sorry about your pipes! Ours are okay still, thankfully. I can’t remember the last time we had snow or cold like this! The worst is trying to get the pup outside to go to the bathroom. The cold hurts her feet and you have to be so careful about frostbite on paws when temps are like this. Its hard to keep her booties on, so I’ve ordered a rubber pair and hope those will help. Poor little furries!

    • Luckily the pipes are good now…just kept the washer line on a slow drip.
      Bo has struggled going outside as well. The first day I would have to literally block him from coming inside so he would go.
      Then he understood it sucked outside but he had to go so the instant I opened the door he would SPRINT to the yard and then sprint back. I am so happy it is warming up, for his sake!

  2. I’ve been watching the weather. My mom just got out of the hospital today – I can’t imagine her travelling in that weather to go home after 3 mo in the hospital!

    A few years back we had a cold spell here with highs in the -10s or so. Freaking.Cold. Luckily, no frozen pipes. But parts of the state lost utilities which meant they had no heat. Can you imagine?

    Stay warm!

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