Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Brittney vs. The Frozen Pipes

It was supposed to be a glorious morning. Because of the winter storm, work was delayed two hours. I slept in until 8:45 a.m.

I made my way to the kitchen and fired up the Keurig. The Today Show playing in the background. Simply perfect.

As I turned on the faucet to wash my face, a new addition to my morning routine, nothing came out. I switched off the hot water and tried the cold. Ice cold water came rushing out. I moved to the guest room, same thing. The shower, same thing. The kitchen sink, same thing. No hot water in the entire house.

Feeling slightly panicked, I did the only thing I could think of… I called my dad.

After answering several questions, we came to the conclusion that my pipes were frozen.

This will be my first test in homeownership.

I was at a loss.

Will the pipes “unfreeze” on their own and begin functioning normally? It’s supposed to be sunny today, maybe they will warm up? -a true sign of inexperience and lack of knowledge…the pipes are under my 90-year-old house, read: out of the sun…sigh.

With no other options, I called my plumber (Roy).

Roy said to turn on all of the hot water faucets and crank up the heat. The hot air should help to speed up the process. However, I will need to be home to monitor the pipes. If and when they thaw, there is a chance one (or all) of them might bust causing hundreds of gallons of water to flood my house. Hold me!

Before getting off the phone with Roy, he assured me it was just a waiting game. That there is nothing else I could do.

After about 10 minutes of playing the “waiting game,” I conducted a thorough search online. I came to the conclusion that the pipe leading up to the hot water heater was frozen and I needed to locate a space heater to warm it up!  Easy!

Off to Home Depot I go!


Home Depot was sold out of space heaters; however, they have a “pro desk” where you can consult with the pros!

A nice man, let’s call him Charley, spent a good 45 minutes with me explaining all of the worst case scenarios.

My original idea of putting a space heater in front of the hot water heater was very ambitious.

Charley suggested (with a straight face) that I crawl UNDER the house and clamp heat lamps to the pipes. It should only take 15 minutes or so for them to defrost.

His other suggestion was to crawl under the house and use a space heater to warm up the pipes *but* I would need to stay down there with it in case of a house fire.

Okay Internet, let’s say I do crawl under the house (amongst the mice and roaches and sleeping snakes) and the space heater causes a small fire…what is the best way to handle that situation? I haven’t taken fire safety! I don’t have a Life Alert! I would probably freak out and go into cardiac arrest…or…I would pass out from the smoke and burn to death (amongst the mice and roaches and snakes).

Can we all agree that that is a disaster waiting to happen?

Oh Charley…

After explaining my hesitations with crawling under the house myself, Charley called his old pal (a local plumber) and got me on a waiting list.

In the meantime, Charley had me convinced that all of my pipes were ruined and the entire plumbing system needed to be replaced, which will cost me thousands and thousands of dollars.

Hold me!

I called my dad on the way home, completely beside myself.

Dad tried to explain that Charley was an “extremist” but I wasn’t buying it. After all, Charley was a “pro” and he knew what he was talking about!

That afternoon was spent going back and forth between Google searches, getting upset, calming myself down and looking through the vent space debating whether or not I would get eaten by a rat if I did muster up the courage to crawl under the house.

Convinced that the plumber had misplaced my address and wasn’t going to show, my only option was to crawl under the house. I decided to improvise where the space heater was concerned. I dug out a long extension cord and located my beloved blow dryer.

I would blow dry those pipes! Surely my Rusk Speed Freak hair dryer would work! It puts off a ton of heat!

About the time I located the door to the crawl space, I got a text from my friend. She had heard of my troubles and had a few ideas. What if I closed off all of the vents under the house? That would help the pipes stay warm…and maybe they would thaw out!

Unbeknownst to me, I was supposed to take care of this last fall.

 I rounded up a few cardboard boxes and began the tedious process of covering the vents.

Right as I was finishing the last vent, the plumber arrived!
I’ve never been so happy to see a plumber in my entire life!

5 minutes later I had hot water.

Thankfully, no pipes had burst and I was just out an $80 service call.

Stephen (the plumber) mentioned that he had worked on my house before, with the previous owners. He told me about the new septic system he installed last year …that it was sure to last a long time! He was familiar with the hot tub and had fixed several leaks.

It was a very informative service call.

Finally, I could relax. I could breathe.

I don’t have to go under the house!

I don’t have to sell a kidney to pay for the busted pipes!

-I guess Charley was an extremist after all!

And the cherry on top of what turned out to be a pretty good day?

Roy called to check in! -Remember Roy? The first plumber?

He just wanted to know how my pipes were doing, if they had thawed.

In and effort to keep the call short, I spared him the details of how the pipes were fixed, “yes Roy…they are working!”

His reply: “Great! I knew it was just a matter of waiting it out!”

Me: “Thanks Roy, I really appreciate all your help!”


Roy: “Anytime Brittney, Let me know if it happens again!”
-end call-
It's days like yesterday that make me realize how lucky I am to live in Ada. The people here care for one another. No one ripped me off. No one took advantage of the clueless-single girl-first time homeowner. Everyone wanted to help!
Roy didn't have to call me back. Even though his advice wasn't very helpful, I appreciate that he took the time out of his night to call the crazy lady and make sure she was okay.
Charley was a little extreme but he did connect me with his pal Stephen.
And Stephen? Stephen was my savior.
It was a long day and I spent most of it stressed and agitated...
But looking back, I think I will consider it a success!


  1. Oh gosh, I just can't wait to be a homeowner :)

    1. Ha! yeah it has its downfalls! :-)

  2. The first time is always the most memorable one. And it's good to hear that after a long day of stress and searching for the best way to solve your frozen pipes, everything worked out at the end. Thanks to your plumber who came in and even gave you helpful plumbing details about your house! Cheers!


  3. Whoa! That must have been a rollercoaster ride of emotions for you. I do understand your concern about it, considering how bitter and awful the winter months were. A frozen pipe is definitely the last on our list. Anyway, take care always. :D
    Annie Scott @ Altus Mechanical

  4. Being a homeowner has a lot of ups and downs, and frozen pipes during the winter just might be the one of the worst issues you can tackle as one. In any case, you did a swell job in replying to that plumbing issue, Brittney. That lets me believe you're going to do a hell of a job as a homeowner. Kudos to you! :)

    Gordon Patton @ Bison Plumbing