Sunday, November 28, 2010

City Slickers at the Chicken Dance Ranch - Lesson #1

Winter came early to the Chicken Dance Ranch this year. While this was not our first Thanksgiving at the ranch, it was our first real experience with a fully built house and bitter cold temperatures that occasionally beset the Okanogan. I don’t consider us true city slickers. I mean, we have lots of camping and outdoors experience. But we certainly are from suburbia and life in the boondocks required more from us than we were initially prepared for.

With outdoor temperatures staying below the freezing mark and an arctic air mass that roared down out of Canada, we learned several important lessons on how cold it can really get here at the CDR.
Lesson #1: Water pipes can and will freeze, even when you think you’ve got them protected.

The way our water pipes were run in the crawl space of the house left them exposed in some areas. One of our first orders of business upon arrival at the CDR was to install a layer of insulation over them. Then we built a little room out of plastic sheeting around the booster pump and put a radiant oil heater inside of it. We also made sure our foundation vents were closed. We were prepared. Or so we thought. 
 Protecting the Booster Pump and Water Pipes

Outside temperatures kept dropping over the course of several days into single digits. Factoring in wind chill, it was easily below zero degrees Fahrenheit.

We awoke one morning with our kitchen pipes frozen. The kitchen is on the north wall and the chilling wind was battering the north side of the house. Even with the extra insulation layer, somewhere the pipes froze. Our best guess was near the outside wall, even though the pipes are not in the wall itself and are nestled in thick insulation up under the floor joists. It didn’t help that our foundation vents kept blowing open and the air intake ducting for the woodstove is nearby.

After adding heat tape to the pipes (which in itself took three attempts) and new foam blocks to stuff in the foundation vents, the water was free-flowing. Cross your fingers they stay that way throughout the winter months.


Dimple said...

Well, Neighbor, I know just what you're talking about! We live in a mobile, and have had more than one experience of frozen pipes. I am thankful that we haven't had a problem since installing heat tapes and plugging the areas which allowed wind in. Wishing you running water and a warm house!

EG Wow said...

WHOA! That was an adventure you didn't need! My fingers are definitely crossed that you have solved your problem!

Kay L. Davies said...

Hi Sally - I have had lots of frozen pipes in my time, and lived to tell about it. I know how cold it can get in your area. I grew up in the Okanagan (with a second A instead of your second O) in BC just north of you.
Canada is used to being blamed for the cold but, really, BC gets it from Alaska. LOL
Hope everything turns out okay. I'm a little concerned about that heater in your plastic "water pipe room"!
Thanks for visiting my blog, and for commenting. Visitors are always welcome, especially those who take the time to comment. I appreciate it.
-- K

Kay, Alberta, Canada
An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

Rita said...

I have had to fight this problem more then once. Don't wish it on anyone, so I am sorry you are having to go through it now.

We had a combination of rain, sleet, wind and snow the night before thanksgiving and found our new (to us) house is not as air tight as we would like.

Also enjoyed reading about 3 fingered Jacks. Thanks for the visit to my MYM.