My husband is a legend


So, in January our house was near to being finished.  Still needed floorboards down, kitchens, bathrooms - not much in the grand scale of things.  I was totally sick of waiting and threatened everyone at home, that if we weren't moved in and having a huge combined 2-day housewarming party by the time I hit my birthday in mid-April, I would move out of home.  Forever.  Say goodbye to our old apartment, our new house, the family and take off by myself, with a jaunty backpack, a swag of lonely planet guides an eye for adventure, and definitely NO interest in architecture.
Everyone listened to my ultimatum and promptly forgot about it - heck, it was months away and we would surely be moved in by then!
Things were going fairly well through January and most of February.  Our two last-stop finisher builders from the country, Normunds and Juris, were living in the house and moving forward at a cracking pace, laying and oiling floorboards, hanging old doors, tiling away.  Then the water pipe leading into the house froze.  And there was no water.  Doesn't sound too bad at first - we transported big containers of water over for the builders to use in the mean time, spring was coming, we could unfreeze the pipe somehow, it would only be a couple of days.
The fairly small diameter metal pipe was located 1 metre under the ground.  Jem and the builders spent a good couple of days searching for the pipe - digging a long trench along the side of the house through frozen ground (note to self:  next time, mark the entry/exit points for pipes on the wall of the house!).   When they finally found it, they dug along the whole length of it in our back yard.  And then they heated it. We took the advice of hardware store experts, the internet and our plumber, and bought a special pipe-warming electrical cord.  It didn't work.  We poured boiling water on the pipe.  Didn't work. We bought a fan that blows non-stop hot air and blew air on the pipe for hours.  Still nothing.  We got a blow torch and blasted the pipe until it was hot to touch.  Nothing, nothing, nothing.  The frozen portion of the pipe was obviously not in our backyard - but in the neighbour's yard, under their nicely paved driveway.  "Oh well", everyone shrugged their shoulders, "just have to wait until it thaws, spring's around the corner".   By this time, our house was cold inside, because the water pressure in the heating system had fallen to zero.  The whole house was covered in gyrpoc dust and sawdust and building dust, with no water to clean it up.  The builders were getting well stinky, considering they had nothing to wash in.
So we waited for spring.  About a week ago the temperature climbed up to 10 degrees, and the piles of snow on the street began to melt fast. "This is it!" we thought.  By now the builders had finished their jobs and moved back home, for those eagerly awaited showers and flushable toilets.  We had a finished house with no water, heating or sewerage.  Every day in the last week I drove over to the house and hopefully turned on the tap, waiting for that bubbling and hiss of water joyfully rushing out to meet me.  But it's been useless.  Zip. Zero. Nada.  Not a drop.
We were all out of ideas and wondering when the pipe would unfreeze, when there was a horrible moment of realization - it's my birthday next weekend.  I wondered out loud where our backpacks were - you know, the ones from when we were young and free, travelling sans kids, houses, pipes or any other responsibilities.  Jem took a deep breath, and opened up Google.
This morning saw him meeting a couple of guy who he had found on the internet:  "we unfreeze any pipe, anywhere, anytime".  We were both deeply dubious about their claim, as we had pretty much tried anything the experts could suggest, short of digging up the neighbour's paving and replacing the entire pipe.  Jem watched all morning as the guys tried to blast the ice through the pipe with the help of a pressurized air tank.  No movement at all.  Things were looking depressing. Then they called in the big guns.  Their mate from the other side of town, who had a dodgy-box electrical contraption with wires and fuses and alligator clips.  They clipped the machine to the pipe, plugged it into the wall, and electrified the pipe.  Gave that that ice plug an electrical shock of 240 volts for a couple of minutes.  And who would have thought it - it worked.  A stream of water welcomed Jem when he turned on the tap.  Amazing!!!
 So now it's full steam ahead.  We've got to clean all the dust out with copious amounts of water.  Pack up this place, and get OUT of here - so that on my birthday I can wake up for the first time in my new house.   Jem's never been a man for wooing me on his knees with bunches of flowers.  But the guy knows when things get desperate - an internet search for some guys in leather jackets and home-made electrical gear will do the trick. Couldn't think of a better early birthday present!


4 Responses so far.

  1. Mamma M says:

    Jem is a rockstar. The question is, will the pipe remain unfrozen? What about next winter? Are these things you don't want to think about?

  2. Mook says:

    Local knowledge is, that if you are worried your pipes will freeze, you leave a tap dripping somewhere in your house. Apparently this is enough to keep the water moving. Ideally we had wanted to dig the pipe up this summer, and insulate it/replace it/whatever, but that will involve a whole lot of negotiation with our neighbour, who loves his paved driveway... anyhow, if it happens again next year, we now have the phone number for 240 volts of joy :)

  3. Alex says:

    A happy ending to a stressful situation! I was wondering about subsequent winters myself, but now you know what to do. Good luck with the move and have fun settling into your new home - how exciting!

  4. Fifee says:

    Your time of stress must soon be over according to the laws of averages and the gods - good luck and hope that birthday is a happy one. You will LOVE the house once you are in it and all will fade away. You will need recovery time though so no new projects for a while hey! We move into our new house [renovated already by someone else luckily...] in a few weeks too [May 4] so we can celebrate moving together!!

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