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.