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Jan 07 2004

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Ah the joys of home ownership

Oh, I just love owning a house. I really really do.

It’s just sometimes the downsides are darn close to outweighing the upsides.

Today I’m working from home because last night we found some frozen pipes.

Last july we had some sill-pipes replaced because the old ones were leeking badly.

The pipe in the back of the house was replaced with a standard frost proof valve and doesn’t seem to have any problems.

The pipe in the garage, however, was replaced with a cheap standard valve, because it’s “Inside the house” and shouldn’t have problems with freezing.

Yeah, right.

In order to install the valve in the garage, the plumber had to open up the wall.

Well, it turns out that the garage gets pretty darn cold (especially when the outside temp is near zero).

Add to that, the plumber that did the work neglected to tell me that I needed to get the part of th wall that he opened up closed up before it gets cold.

So, the pipe freezes (deep inside the wall) and breaks the solder for the new valve.

Yesterday evening, Ginny notices that the toilet near the garage won’t flush … no water is going into the tank. We go into the garage to see if there are any problems, and Ginny is able to pull the sill pipe completely out of the wall!

Ok, this is a big problem. I’m not too worried about the pipe being frozen … but I am worried about it unfreezing (since there is no valve on the pipe anymore).

I call the plumbing firm that did the original work, get an answering machine. They relay the message to the on-duty plumber and he calls me back. Turns out he’s all the way out in Indiana and won’t be back to the area until late (very late, he says). Say that we need him out here and he puts me on the schedule.

Ginny and I start trying to figure out what we can do in the mean time. She calls Home Depot for advice. They tell her that we can cap the pipe off with a end cap and compression fitting.

Ok, so armed with this knowledge, I go out to the Menards (which is closer) and ask about getting an end cap and compression fitting. They find one, but tell me that I’ll need to tighten the compression fitting with two wrenches. Aw, heck, I can barely get one hand inside the opening.

I start trying to figure out an alternative.

I end up getting a length of flexible tubing, some auger clamps (the kind that you tighten with a screwdriver) and a end cap for the tubing.

I install the tubing (it’s pretty tough to work in such a small opening) and cap it off. At least now if the ice in the pipe melts, we won’t have a flood inside the wall (I hope).

I called the plumber back and left a message to cancel the appointment tonight and I would call again in the morning.

Woke up this morning and we didn’t have any flooding, so it’s working so far.

I called the plumbing company again and scheduled an appointment today. Hopefully it will be covered under the original works warranty.

Of course, in true geeky fashion, I started a thread on one of my mailing lists that quickly devolved into some good humor.

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