Bone-chilling, eye-watering, brutal, wicked, vicious –you pick the adjective, and it was even colder than that.
Our local news stations were talking about when we’ve had such deep cold in recent history. I recall the closest being 25 years ago, when I had to call off work because of the trifecta of chill: the garage door opener didn’t work, the pull to bypass the garage door didn’t work (the door rollers were probably frozen to the track), and the car wouldn’t start anyway, so it wouldn’t have gone out the door if I had gotten it open!
In both situations, we’d had a pretty hefty snow, followed by a pretty hefty rain, then a little bit of snow again and a dramatic temperature drop. Our temps usually find a way to creep above 0°F, but this time it was about 48 hours below zero, plus some skinny numbers for another few days.
We thought we had prepared for it, but no: our water line froze. Our heated water line.
When we put the trailer into the barn, we did several things right:
— Frank laid in R-19 insulation for days and days, and paneled over top for extra help;
— Our lovely HVAC guys installed the $25 garage furnace (that’s fun another story);
— Our local propane supplier sent first a very nice man with our new white propane tank, and then sent a second crew to fill it;
— Frank got the garage furnace connected to the propane, and with a little phone help from the HVAC guys and finding a missed electrical connection, got it lit up and running;
— And Frank purchased another garden hose to extend our existing one, carefully laying heat tape along the length and putting foam pipe insulation around all of the exposed hose. He brought the water and heat tape into the barn through a hole under the rake board, and I snuck the cable in with it.
Somehow, even with heat tape the whole way, it was soooo cold, the water line froze. We were celebrating that everything was working so well, until on Wednesday morning, no water. Oh, boy.
We knew it wasn’t at the house, because when Frank and the electrician installed the pressure tank, Frank built it an insulated enclosure and put two oil heaters inside. It’s a toasty place.
We knew it wasn’t inside the barn, because it’s stayed at a comfortable 50°F, even during the extreme cold. (I can imagine the propane meter whirring like a top as we’ve used up probably quite a bit already!)
We knew it wasn’t the section with the new heat tape, because the snow was still melted there. We suspected three places: the valve from the house, the junction between the two hoses, or the entry into the barn. Frank fired up the torpedo heater and tried all three. Nothing. He tried along the older heated line. Nothing.
He checked and torpedo-heated and checked and shook and checked again for three days. Nothing. There was water at each point, it just wouldn’t run.
He was out running through the whole cycle again on Saturday morning when I heard a wonderful and familiar sound: I had left the cold water tap on in the kitchen sink, and it was running! I hollered out to him, “What did you do?” He answered, “Why?”, and I shouted, “It worked! We have water again!” We still don’t know where the block was. (And we don’t care.)
Even in the tiny bathtub, that was the best shower ever on Saturday afternoon.