Saturday 20 January 2024

1988: Our First Waterline Freeze-Up

            Losing our water during the winter has happened a few times.  That winter in 1988, the first winter using our gravity-feed line, was also our first freeze-up.  Here is what happened then.

            Our new gravity-feed water system worked well through the first half of the of the winter.  When Glen and I hiked up to our culvert to check how it was doing, the falls looked completely frozen, and a big, thick, dome of ice had formed over our culvert, but underneath all of the ice, Sunbeam Creek was still flowing down the falls and into the culvert.

   However on the 2nd of February, I got a call from Glen, (the first and highest house on our line) who told me that their water pressure had dropped to zero.  Our’s soon followed.  The next day, Glen and I hiked through the snow up to the culvert, and broke through the 8 inches on ice on the dome, pulled up the watergate to lower the water level in the culvert, and cleaned the screen around the intake pipe.  We figured we had solved the problem, but we had not. 

        The pump in our old well house was broken, and so we could no longer use that for our household water.

   Living without the waterline created a lot of immediate problems.  I was able to dip a leaky bucket into the old well to get water for the goats.  After one of our “pick-up” volleyball games at the high school, I used the high school’s locker room to take the “coldest shower of my life….my head got numb and hurt after rinsing the soap off of my hair.”

   Glen and I did another hike, up to the waterline and poured about 10 pounds of salt into the line, in hopes that it would unthaw the frozen part of the waterline that was blocking our water.  Days later we forced a metal cable down the waterline from the culvert to see where it would stop.  We then dug down through the frozen soil at that spot to the pipe and strung up some heat lamps, using several extension cords, strung up from Jeannie’s house at the bottom of the falls.

   The heat lamps were still working the next day and we were able to push the cable in 3 feet further down the line, so we moved the heat lamps further down the line.  Next day we were able to go 8 feet further, but there was always another blockage of ice beyond where ever we were able to melt.

   The following week after our weekly volleyball game, I took another very cold shower and then discovered that I had forgotten to bring a towel.

   A week later, after our friend Tim tried unsuccessfully to fix our water pump, discouraged, I broke down and spent $230 at the hardware store, for a new one.  We couldn’t immediately use the pump, because I had to wait until the following day before I could get a threaded piece of pipe from the hardware stove.

On March 5th, three days after I got our new pump for our well working and finally getting water back in our house, our gravity-feed waterline thawed out and we could once again get back to using that water.

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