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Our Olde House – February 2024

After two winter days of 70F degrees, I was inspired to complete my little diversion dam that is keeping the rain from going under the front of the house. I moved my row of scalloped bricks back toward the house, and next to my other row of regular bricks; the line of regular bricks behind should keep the decorative bricks from moving, leaking or falling down. I also bought more regular bricks and added them along the entire side of the house where the rain will run off toward the backyard to keep any of this water from going under the house.


When the weather forecast called for an entire week of below freezing temperatures every night, I decided I should insulate the new plumbing under the kitchen to keep those pipes from freezing. Not wanting to crawl under the house until I had the pipe foam, I opened a little peephole in the perimeter bricks so I could measure the new pipes under the house and buy the correct size foam insulation. After taking my measurements, I noticed that the 2 inch drain pipe from the new kitchen sink was not connected to the sewer pipe.


Kitchen sink

I went under the house at this point to fix the connection, discovering once again that there are no simple fixes. I tried to reposition the existing connector to join the two pipes, but this old connector was aluminum, not rubber, so that did not work. I measured the diameter of the plastic drain pipe at just shy of 2 inches and went to the hardware store where I purchased a 2 inch by 2 inch pipe connector. This connector actually measured 2 ½ inches in diameter so it would not fit tightly onto the 1 7/8 inch pipe. Back to the hardware store to get the next smaller size connector, which turned out to be marked as 1 ½ inches, but was actually 1 7/8 inches in diameter. With a little persuasion and some threats in French, I was able to force the pipes into the connector, tighten the clamps and success, no leaks.


While I was at the hardware store, I also bought some foam pipe insulation for the new and old plumbing under the kitchen. I cut and fit the foam onto the pipes for the hot and cold, and old and new pipes; a pretty good job especially considering it was under the house. It was dark outside when I finished and emerged from the crawl space; while not exactly happy about this task, I was grateful it was completed in one day and I would not have to go back under the house tomorrow, at least not for this.


I wrapped the back outside pipe and faucets in foam and turned off the valve to keep water away from the faucets. The first of three consecutive nights where the outside temperature dropped below 20F degrees reminded me of Christmas Day 2022 when a tee next to these faucets froze, broke the pipe and caused a spectacular waterfall from the broken pipe the next day. My Mister Smartypants solution to prevent this from happening again was not perfect; while the addition of a brass valve did keep the new tee from breaking, it did not keep the new brass valve from freezing, breaking and making a waterfall in the morning.


The next day I removed the broken brass valve and replaced it with a steel faucet since I decided that brass was soft, and that steel would not freeze and break. Another swing and a miss. The next morning the steel faucet was broken and making the usual waterfall into the backyard. My next failure was to wrap the pipes and faucets in six inches of foam which I thought surely would insulate the pipes enough to keep them from freezing and breaking and making a waterfall. Strike three. The next morning an elbow was frozen, broken and making a waterfall. I replaced this elbow, turned the water back on and heard the sound of rushing water coming from under the deck. Great. Water off again, circular saw out to cut a hole in the deck, when what to my wondering eye did appear but the elbow next to the ground where the pipe exited from under the house was frozen and broken.


Alright, alright I get it, you, meaning I, have to leave the water dripping overnight when the outside temperature is below 20F degrees. So I did. I wrapped the outside pipes and faucets in pipe foam and wrapped a towel around the foam to cover the valve and faucets, just in case. By the way, the towel provides much better insulation than foam, not that anyone would take my winterizing pipes advice at this point. So that night the faucet in the backyard was running at a very fast drip, as were both showers, the bathtub and all four sinks inside the house. That worked, no broken pipes or waterfalls inside, outside or under the house the next morning. I am really looking forward to Spring.

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