In an old house, it’s always something

hairdryer on frozen pipes

This is Raymond practising the old hairdryer-on-frozen-pipes trick below the Manse’s kitchen sink tonight. It did not do the trick.

I was feeling rather elated this bitterly cold winter evening when I pulled in to the driveway at the Manse (in Queensborough) after a day at work (in Belleville). The elation didn’t last long, however. (Though things got much better in the end. As I shall recount.)

I had been elated because over the course of the previous 30 or so hours we (okay, far more Raymond than me, since he’d been the one at home dealing with this stuff while I was at work) had managed to resolve not one but two major breakdowns in our old house:

  • We had got a nice new fridge, at a very reasonable price, bought and delivered in short order from the friendly and helpful folks at Bush Furniture in Madoc, to replace the decade-and-a-half-old Hotpoint that had given up the ghost over this past weekend (causing much consternation and worry over possibly spoiled foodstuffs).
  • And “the Bell” had come just a couple of hours after I called them this morning to say that our phone line wasn’t working – I wrote about that here, thinking it was our old dial phone that was the problem; but thanks to some investigative help from our Queensborough friend Graham we had ascertained that the problem was the line, not the phone – and the hardy repairman, working in the aforementioned bitter cold, had set all to rights, at no charge.

So yeah, that was all great! Nice new fridge purring away; land line that works; all good. And then not 15 minutes after I’d walked in the door, Raymond turned on the cold-water tap in the kitchen and: nothing.

Oh crap. A frozen water pipe.

What next, I ask you? What next?

I had never dealt with a frozen water pipe in my entire life. I am not sure whether Raymond had or not; he was grumpy enough that I didn’t want to ask him.

But anyway, I am here to tell you that the story had a happy ending. Raymond and I tried the warm-the-pipes-with-the-hairdryer approach, to no avail; then did some investigatory work in the basement, which also failed to explain what the problem was; then finally did the sensible thing and called our friend and neighbour Ed, who probably knows more about our house than we ever will. The intention was to pick his brain over the phone, but of course he offered to come over and have a look. And between him and Raymond it was discovered that the area where the pipes run between the kitchen floor and the basement ceiling had got overly cold in this ridiculously cold weather we’ve been having. And then the problem area was exposed and insulated and – the cold water came on again.

So all is well, again. But man, problems in old houses are stressful! Especially when they come in clusters like that. Though as Ed reminded us, the theory (rather well borne out by experience, as I myself can attest) is that this stuff happens in threes. So yeah, fridge, phone, water pipe. Done, done and done. All fixed.

Now nothing can possibly go wrong!

2 thoughts on “In an old house, it’s always something

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