Avoid Frozen Pipes This Winter

I read a great article from a Home Clinic newspaper column about thawing out frozen pipes. When you leave in a cold climate as in Southborough, Mass, you have to think about such things. You people in California and Florida can come back another time. The article made me think of a funny story that is supposed to be true.

A couple had been married for about ten years, and fighting was typical during most of them. They ended up deciding to divorce, and it was anything but amicable. They despised each other and there was malice deep in their hearts. Each vowed to “get” the other. Let’s see who won out. During the divorce proceedings, they were obliged to divide up their property. It included stocks, bonds, a collection of gold coins, and a winter home near a ski resort. His wife didn’t know much about its maintenance.

After considerable strife, the husband appeared to be giving in to his wife’s demands by granting her the mountain chalet. He pretended to accept her joy and smile of victory. He was seething inside. She was scheduled to visit the house in a few months. He was allowed one last stay in the charming abode. He couldn’t wait to get there. He enjoyed a week of powder skiing and more than a few hot toddies by the fire.

As he was packing up and loading the car, he took one last look and grinned from ear to ear. He knew what was going to happen when his wife arrived. He knew and was also told by a strident voice screaming on the phone. “Bill, you son of a bitch. The house is completely flooded.”

“Not my problem,” he smirked. “You wanted the house, you got it.” Dead silence on the other end of the line. What I know from this story is that Bill did nothing to prevent the pipes from freezing and breaking, thus causing a huge first floor flood—and horrendous mess. Those of us in the northeast know how to do it. We recognize that pipes don’t always have insulation and outside ones freeze because they pass through an unheated space. If you don’t wrap those likely to burst, you will face the consequences. A frozen water pipe must be thawed promptly if you don’t want it to split. Being on Water Heater Watch is important if your pipes are frozen, because if the water is too hot, you will split the pipe. You simply open a faucet or valve that is connected to it. As the ice melts, the water begins to run easily. You don’t need to run hot water through it, just the standard cold water will do.

Of course, Bill had done no such thing. Thus, where water was trapped, it turned to steam and the pressure burst the pipe. I could laugh at the image of his wife’s shocked face, but I also know that this could happen to anyone in my town. Let me know if you want that Home Clinic article?