sunny days, frozen pipes

Do not worry!
Yes, some of our pipes froze.

Yes, I think I mention frozen things and cold enough to make it sound like our house is just a large walk-in cooler. But really, I have been calling things lovely far too much lately, and most of the issues that come up related to heating, plumbing, etc. end up being extremely minor and are mostly amazing learning opportunities, because, as I should have said by now, I have no idea what I’m doing (I speak only for myself here!). Any practice helps. As far as the general cold, it’s pretty average for this part of the country, as far as I’ve experienced living in Minneapolis, and we have now entered the Jan-Feb-Mar sunny winter season. With the amount of bright sun we’re consistently getting, it already feels so different from December.

blogggg jan 5

The fields (both our own and ones we get to appreciate from a distance) are covered in powdery snow, so I continue planning and listing the fun things that will be possible after a thaw, such as burrowing under one of the barns to try and replace a frost-free valve that is old and broken. The thought of constructing a greenhouse in this kind of cold and snow is daunting, but it will have to happen in about 2 months. I am excited.

The plumbing work I focused on yesterday took almost no time, which felt great; it will require some more attention once the world warms up (insulating/sealing a corner of the basement). We didn’t consider the potential issues that we’d face with the house that stem from the fact that, I think, humans haven’t overwintered here in almost a decade. Combining that with some new plumbing in an area where the basement isn’t appropriately protected from the elements produces potential problems.

bloggg jan 5

Don’t ask me what all is going on in here, because I am not sure. What I know is that the sink and toilet stopped working in the half bathroom (we have 2 bathrooms. blows my mind.). The water in the pipes froze and didn’t burst, because luckily they’re PEX (cross-linked polyethylene), which is a somewhat flexible plastic.

blogg jan 5

After mostly draining the system, I cut the affected tubing, installing valves on the supply ends that I closed, and leaving the frozen ends open to slowly thaw and drain. If the brittleness of the tubes wasn’t enough to confirm that ice was present, the ice and water trickling out certainly were.

Recap: pipes froze (oh no!) but nothing bad actually happened. I had to buy some valves. Stopped at the library on the way to the store. It was lovely.

In addition to the bright winter sun lately, we’ve been treated to a glorious winter moon, which was full recently. For over a week, the landscape outside the nighttime windows has been bathed in a dawn-like glow, the bright light of the moon shining down on us and on all of the white snow.

blog jan 5

It is lovely.


2 thoughts on “sunny days, frozen pipes

  1. Hi Patrick – you may know that Carl is an expert at keeping the water flowing here on the farm in Marcellus. He has lots of experience and wouldn’t mind offering advice on request. I know he uses heat tape for the pipes in the barn during the winter, which might be helpful before you’ve had a chance to insulate. I love your stories and now have them sent to email so I don’t miss a word! Good luck with the plumbing!


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