our science project: frozen water lines and this time they’re in the walls

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Today I’m grateful for family and friends, near and far. I’m grateful that we have had the opportunity to be with some of them in the days before the holiday and on the holiday itself. I’m grateful for the tremendous opportunity to be living our lives in the here and now and to be making a crazy new life for ourselves. I realize not everyone is in a position to go out and do what we’ve done. Today I’m grateful.

Saying goodbye to Xena and telling her about the wonderful cat and housesitters coming her way.

Saying goodbye to Xena and telling her about the wonderful cat and housesitters coming her way.

Now, on to our latest story from the yurt life:

I’ve gotten used to the mishaps and the problem solving. We’re talking, “So the water froze again, okay, how can we solve this rather than getting angry or freaking out?” It isn’t always easy to keep that perspective, but when we tried our hot water to wash dishes on Saturday and it wouldn’t come on, I played it cool. Bryan came in from cutting wood and we did some investigating.

We realized that not only would hot water not flow out of the kitchen sink tap, but we had no pressure in the bathroom past the toilet, so no water would come out of the sink or the shower. It has been getting colder as of late, so freezing would happen now if it were going to. We’ve been keeping the a-frame thermostat at 55 and it was decidedly far too cold in there on Saturday morning when we got up. We had pumped nearly freezing water into the tank that morning. We figured that that water plus the very cold temps got the lines cold enough to freeze the water in them. So, we had frozen pipes, inside the walls, and were planning to leave the next day. By the time we realized this on Saturday it was too late to work on it, so we planned to take care of it Sunday morning.

In order to solve the problem, we had to tear the bottom two pieces of tongue and groove off the whole back wall. When we put in the water lines, we put them a little too close to the outside wall rather than on the edge by the inside wall, so I had filled it with insulation and great stuff as best I could. Because of that, it meant that the only thing between the outside wall and the water lines was about half an inch of insulation. Evidently that isn’t going to cut it.

Anyway, in order to access the lines, I had to remove the panels, scrap off all the great stuff, and peel the lines out of their crevice. Then I took a blowdryer to them, all across the cabin. I kept the water and water heater on, turned on the sink faucet and waited. As I worked my way from the toilet (which worked, so we knew the freezing was past that in the line), the temperature on the water heater (which shows the current temp in the line) was going up and up, giving me hope that I’d be able to thaw the lines. About an hour in and halfway across the wall, the heater kicked on! We had hot water again to the kitchen sink!

I kept working and eventually got water to flow in the bathroom sink and the shower. Relieved, I hooted and hollered until Bryan ran back in to witness my triumph!

The plan to resolve this is to move the lines to the inside section of the framing so that more heat gets to them. We may also have to buy a blower for the heater so that more heat works its way into the bathroom. We won’t keep the thermostat so low any more either. Like the title says, it’s all a great big science project around these parts anyway!

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