A Busted Pipe

January 7 – Yes, winter has arrived. I’d rather celebrate its departure, but will just have to wait. The temperatures have been rising a little, and the snow is retreating. Didn’t have to do any shoveling so far at least!

The week before Christmas we made the unpleasant discovery that there was no cold water coming out of our kitchen sink faucet. Somewhere a pipe had frozen, and while the other faucets had water, the kitchen sink did not. Now what to do? Decided to wait and hope the line would unfreeze soon. We left the thermostat set higher that night, and water trickling from all the other faucets. Monday morning, still no cold water from that faucet. Since we didn’t know where the line had frozen, I decided not to call the plumber yet.


[ Pile of wet stuff to sort or discard ]

Later that day Chris went down to the basement where she had just been a few minutes before, and very shortly was yelling for me to come shut off the water! I quickly did, for water was gushing out of somewhere and streaming mostly into the room where we kept the ironing board, spare clothes, boxes of Chris’ stuffed toys and fancy tin can collections, etc.

Still dripping from the corner of the room, just below the ceiling, was the source of the problem. Several cardboard boxes filled with assorted items sat there on the wet carpet. What to do with them? Carried a number of them off to a dry room, cleared the area below the leak so the plumber could work there, and then phoned him.


[ The fixed pipe ]

Earlier there had been no phone service, but fortunately now it was restored and also that it was not Sunday, for this plumber does not work on Sundays. Within the hour the plumber and his helper and their truck were in our driveway. After assessing the situation, they brought down the needed equipment and materials and began work. Ceiling tiles had to be moved or scrapped, for some were soggy and useless.

A three-foot section of the copper tubing containing the burst area was sawed out. This was replaced by a piece of blue plastic tubing called PEX, both ends of which were pushed into the copper tubing and locked securely with special devices containing many tiny teeth. This material is much less prone to bursting than copper, and also unlikely to be stolen by copper thieves. And there was the end of the repair, the plumbers gathered up their equipment and wrote out a bill for $169.28 and departed with smiles for their next job.

I was surprised to hear that hot water lines are more likely to burst when frozen than the cold water lines. The plumber told me that the day before he had been working in a home where the lady had gotten out of bed and stepped into a foot of water. The whole flooring of the house was under water. I imagine that her bill for repairs will be considerably more than ours was; not only a bill from the plumbers but another one from the repair company who would fix all the water damage.


[ Soggy boxes to be burned ]

We ended up waiting a couple of days for the carpet to dry, and in the meantime, a lot of books and magazines ended up lying out all over the place, drying out and destined for retention or destruction. Also had to haul a number of soggy cardboard boxes out to the burning pile. Will the carpet dry back to its original color and texture, we wonder? Time will tell. – DALE

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