Monday, February 23, 2015

freezing supply lines, and an early update

[update 24FEB15 - in order to keep the water flow constant, the town sent a plumber to make a slight adjustment to one house's plumbing - for some homeowners affected, a small-diameter pipe will be installed to by-pass the water meter in the basement or some other similar solution, the town will then keep a list of homeowners with such by-passes in order to turn the by-passes on or off as they judge necessary. In this case, the 'by-pass' consists of a small diameter tube, like the water supply to the ice maker, that is simply fitted to the cold water tap in the basement where the washing machine once sat, the new small tube then is directed to the otherwise unused washing machine drain. This constant stream has not by-passed the meter, so the town will make an adjustment on the water bill, since all of these measures are designed to protect the whole system from freeze damage and associated costs to the town.] Freeze Warning, take heed of the caution from our town employees! I talked to the Water Department crew outside just now, as they drilled the permafrost with a smart little automated pneumatic bastard file in search of the water valve. They stopped hammer drilling when they found out that I still have running water, and told me in no uncertain terms to “Leave a constantly running stream of cold water, the size of an ordinary pencil, indefinitely and until the ground warms sufficiently to no longer freeze standing water in the supply lines“. They stress leaving a continuous flow, and indefinitely, because the ground will remain as frozen as it is now through any minor warming until the days really are warmer - even if it takes a couple of weeks. They went on to explain, that a neighbor’s water was running normally at ten o’clock last night, yet, one half hour later their lines were frozen, and they told me that this was happening in different locations in the town of Springfield. One issue that influences the phenomenon, is that our street recently had a new water supply line installed under the street, and for some reason a stretch of pipe was allowed to project beyond the last house’s supply point - in effect becoming a reservoir of still water that easily became ice, and once it began to freeze, the freezing extended into the lines of the supply to the neighbor with the freezing crisis. I was just lucky to be twenty feet further away from that event, but was probably about to freeze today or tonight as well, had the town not sent out workers to investigate, diagnose, repair, and alert citizens. One would do well to follow the advice, to leave a constant flow from a cold water tap in the home, wherever one has had extended cold weather that has the ground frozen to the extent we are experiencing here.