Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Freeze a Crowd

Thursday evening - the car thermometer read -12.5 oC (about 9.5 oF). When I poured water from a bottle in the car onto the windscreen it steamed. I was waiting in the car park of the train station to pick up Farm Guy as we are currently down to one car - the car that can't make it up the slippery hill to the farm!

It was cold, we couldn't wait to get back to the farm and get cozy - our fuel is running out as the oil firm are overwhelmed with orders so we had to make our last few drops count - but it is definitely better than being out here. We only got stuck once on the way up the hill - big cheer for the car.

Once at home the weekends proceeding started with a trip to the loo. Farm Guy reports that it doesn't flush, the cistern is empty. A check of the taps soon reveals that there is no water in the house. A phone call to farm Dad - what do we do? Farm Dad explains how the pipes work, that our water doesn't come to the house underground, it comes to the edge of the barns underground then passes along the ceiling of the barns until it reaches the house - go check.

We went "check"!
Frozen, in one place the pipe had burst we had a pipe shaped piece of ice between one joint and the rest of the pipe. Good thing it was frozen as the break was hanging over the furniture and unopened boxes being stored since the move. A trip down the yard to the stopcock left us uninspired, it was impossible to tell if we had turned the water off or not. Back inside to warm up and a call back to Farm Dad - he said he'd be there on Friday! A trip to Asda secured us some bottled water for drinking and washing. The toilet proved a quandary until we came up with the following instructions for all those attempting to flush the loo:
  1. Fill all possible buckets with snow.
  2. Put snow in all available pans.
  3. Melt on oven.
  4. Use to flush loo.
  5. Toilet flushing time - 25 minutes!!!

No unnecessary flushing people!!

The next evening Farm Dad and Farm Mum arrived and the work began. First securing the broken pipe and secondly putting a heater into the room below the burst to try ans see if we can thaw it out. As not much could be done it was left until the Saturday for the real work to begin. Farm Guy and Dad took the opportunity to go the Hardware Store for parts and Farm Mum and I waited at home, keeping the fire going. We were just discussing the fact there was no water and no heating (save for a couple of set times a day to preserve fuel) and how people must have coped before all mod cons when the power cut happened. We sat in the glow from the fire, I looked at her, she looked at me, we fell about laughing! Luckily the power cut only lasted a minute or two and was never heard of again. A great side line of that was that, after the power cut, the bottom (big) oven on the cooker now works!! It had stopped working on Christmas Day, of ALL days, and no one could see what the problem was!!
Saturday dawned cold but clear and the guys headed out to sort out the pipes. Further inspection found another 'Pop Out' and three splits. That section of pipe would have to go and then be replaced, and include another stopcock so we don't have to dig out the manhole cover from under 2 feet of snow next time! An outside tap was defrosted and served as our water supply. Farm Mum and I were on water collection, marching back and forth with bottles filling them up from the outside tap - which is on the other side of the barns. Farm Dad and Farm Guy set about fixing the pipes and trying to remove them from the wall (they had been plastered in) so that they could be lagged after being defrosted (oh yes, they weren't lagged, Ho Ho!!). Farm Dad tried Blow Torching one of the pipes but it didn't seem to work and after a while gave up and went back to trying to prize the pipe from the wall..

A very wet Farm Dad stood in the Living Room doorway. Farm Guy had headed to the Hardware Store for extra pipes leaving Farm dad behind. Apparently whilst up his ladder Farm Dad had heard a noise that he thought to be the Farm Dog, he looked down to be meant by a fountain of water. The pipe he had been heating had finally defrosted right through and was now apparently working fine. He then had to battle through the spray to attach the new Stopcock to the end of the pipe and turn it off. He said he felt he was in one of those old war films when the Submarine gets a leak and they are trying to plug it up.

We sat him by the fire and got some tea on to try and defrost him!

By the end of Saturday all known bursts were fixed and the pipe was ready for flowing water. Sunday became the day of the hot water. Hot water and towels went into the barn, empty buckets and (I kid not) frozen stiff towels came out! More water was collected by the water acquisition team and the toilet was flushed as needed!

At 1.40pm a small trickle of water began in the kitchen! There was pandemonium, it was like the first time people had every thought of putting water into houses through pipes! Congratulations all round. By 2.15pm we could fill the kettle from the tap! Such luxury. By 5pm all taps were working properly and we had hot running water for the first time in four days. the pipes were all snuggle lagged and more tea was had. The only tap that didn't work was the hot tap in the kitchen. We couldn't work it out. Farm Dad sprayed the hallway as he disconnected a pipe to see 'if the water had made it this far'. Strange, but water in most places is better than nothing so we considered it a victory.

Farm Mum and Dad left and we went back to our lives.

Until 10pm. I discovered that the water pressure in the cold tap had dropped. Informing Farm Guy that I thought the pipes may be freezing back up he headed back out to the shed - he had another theory - he was right! One of the pipes in the shed, that just went to another tap in the byre, had been started on in the defrosting process and then abandoned as non-essential. It had now finished defrosting itself and was spraying all over the place. It too had been 'popped out' by the expanding ice inside and once it defrosted...

Off went the water again, at our nice new stopcock, and up the ladder went Farm Guy. It was simpler than we thought to fix but I wouldn't touch it people! Back on went the water and we trooped in to see if the pressure had returned. It had and we returned to a kitchen full of steam! The Hot Tap, which had been left on to catch the first signs of water was now working full flow and filling the room with steam and Hot Water spray! Hurray, working water and our own steam room.

Its been a couple of days now and things are warming up here, although they are threatening more freezing next week, but for now we are back to normal!

Ah, to fill a kettle - one of the 3 drafted in for the weekend!
(by the way that is COLD water going in not hot! Yes, our kitchen was that cold, cold water was warm enough to steam!)

1 comment:

  1. well it sounds like you had an eventful time...but you must be very proud that you managed to get it all sorted.....on the bright side...you had a cozy open fire going continuously . Praying for the warmer weather for you...and the rest of us!!


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