One Woman's Tale of Frozen Pipes and Perseverance.
I woke up the other morning to no water. I went to the kitchen, no water, I went to the bathroom, no water, and I went to the kid’s bathroom, no water. I knew it was cold here in Illinois, and we had about six inches of snow that covered the ground but no water! That was just too much! I live in a mobile home and had no idea why I didn’t have any water! I expected frozen pipes; my heart sank as I thought of how much it would cost to have it repaired. I thought of how alone I felt in those moments. What on earth was I going to do?
Living in a mobile home is different than living in a house, that much I knew. I had lived in the mobile home for about eight years, and knew some of the basic repairs, but fixing plumbing was not one of them! My deceased husband had taken care of the repairs before! I sighed and called the local mobile home repairman. He told me it would have cost $110.00 just to come out and look at my pipes and that was not counting if anything needed to be repaired, labor, materials and OH MY! He told me to check my “Heat Tape” and I had to ask him how do I do this? What in the world was heat tape? He said that I would have to crawl underneath the trailer and ensure it was plugged in. To check my outside pipes that ran not only to the underneath of the mobile home but to an outside source as well.
I hung up with a very sad heart, a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. I did not have the money to hire him, but knew that somehow, someway I would have to if I could not resolve this problem. So I went to my computer, booted it up and put, “Heat Tape for mobile homes” in my search. I found out that you have to check to see if they are plugged in, that the unit is still working. So with the help of my 18-year-old son, flashlight in hand, we braved the cold, the snow ice, and blowing biting winds. We went outside, and removed the skirting in the places where we knew the main water supply was at, and he crawled underneath to check the unit. It was plugged in and all the heat tape seemed to be in working order. We followed the pipes to the outside where they lay exposed to the elements. They had been covered almost all the way with foam-type pipe insulation, but some of that was gnawed away and part of the pipe lay on the frozen ground.
I removed the lid of the stone covered well where the main water supply shut-off valve is at, and part of that insulation was gone. My heart sank to an even-lower state. But determination goes a long way! I went back inside, stripped off all the heavy outside wear, and went back to my wonderful computer, putting in yet again more searches on defrosting frozen pipes that are exposed outside. Most of them said to pour hot water over the frozen pipes. Okay, how in the world was I going to do this with no water! Or you could use a space heater, blow dryer, or a heating pad. I had no space heater, and was afraid that my heating pad would never do the trick, so I pretty much caved in and thought to myself I will wait until the morning and call the repairman. And maybe skip food for the next month!
I was chatting on the phone with my mom and she said go and scoop some snow in a bucket to heat to wash your hands. They used to do that when she was young. I was sitting there much later and thought to myself why couldn’t I do that for heating water to pour over those pipes? First off I went out and wrapped my pipes in a garbage bag and two warmed towels, wrapping them around to at least protect them from getting colder! And then with buckets in hand, I gathered snow, lots and lots of snow! Bringing it back into the house, and transferring it to pots and pans on my stove, heating it until it melted, letting it cool enough so that it was not boiling, and poured some down my bathroom drains, which by the way are the closet to the outside water supply.
Next I took some of that water outside to pour over the towel-covered pipes, repeating this over and over until I was exhausted. It takes a lot of snow to make one pot of water! And then I went to sleep with nightmares of bursting pipes, no water for months and sacrificing food in order to call the repairman! The next day awakening once again to no water. Bound and determined, I was not going to give up this fight! I went out and changed the towels, wrapping them tight, and keeping them off the ground. Guess what, it worked! Later that day I had water once again! It was like heaven sent! And now I had to make sure it stayed on! With a trip down to Ace Hardware, I bought more of that foam-type pipe insulation, fiberglass pipe insulation and professional duct tape. Moisture proof, element proof, can handle extreme cold temperatures. They also have this great aluminum insulation tape that is a little bit more expensive, that can replace the foam-type pipe insulation, but I opted for the foam tubing because that was already on some of the pipe. The helpful hardware man at Ace said that vermin love the foam-type pipe insulation, so it needed to be covered in something they could not gnaw through. And since I live in the back of a cornfield, this is a BIG problem for me! That and the cold Illinois winter winds blow right across those fields!
My daughter and I went outside with a garbage bag, the foam-type pipe insulation, duct tape, the fiberglass pipe insulation, and scissors. We cut to size the piece of foam-pipe type insulation to fit, and then you have to slice it all the way across the top, slide it over the pipe, nice and secure, and wrap the duct tape over that, making sure that pipe is off the ground completely. And next inside the stone well where the main water supply valve is at, we took the fiberglass insulation and wrapped it down in snug, putting the black heavy duty garbage bag over the top of that, and shut the lid back tight.
Make sure all your outside hoses are off, and the outside spigot is turned off. And also make sure your heat tape is working and in proper order, before winter!
Inside your mobile home, leave the water to trickle in the bathroom, and leave the cupboard doors open on the vanity. This will help keep the pipes warm. I am by far not a certified plumber, but I fixed it for under $12.00!
With a little bit of money, a little bit of sweat and tears, a lot of determination and perseverance, and lots of prayers, it worked! This DIY project will provide food for the next month for my table!
“Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did.” ~Newt Gingrich~