Friday, 30 December 2011

A Frosty Lesson

Before winter had arrived we had installed a grey water sewer system and a well and were quite happy in that we had running water and a sewer. Yeah! No more throwing the water out the door in pails. I was happy as can be. Not that it is a big hardship living out of water buckets. If you really think about it, its not a big deal. I guess its kinda like camping all the time, only with more convenience. Still, all in all, I was happy to have running water. Not having to fetch our water from the neighbors was a HUGE plus. They had been fantastic about it but I really don't like to be a bother. The generator would be started and the 100 gallon tank under the cabinet filled up in about 5 minutes from our 180 ft well. Then with a small electric motor which took hardly any power from our small solar system I could turn on the tap. Wasn't that amazing! For so many years I had taken running water for granted without really thinking about where it came from, it was just always there. I can say I have a much better appreciation for it now.

For convenience sake Mountain Man had even installed a very small electric water heater which could be run off the generator if I so choose too. He is always trying to make things easier for me. But I soon found out that it was faster to just use the hot water already in the water reservoir in the stove than wait for it to heat up. First I had to start the generator and then plug in the water heater, then wait for about 45 minutes. It just seemed like a waste of time and money, especially for the small amounts usually needed.

So there we were, all set and happy as could be, until one day in about December, having just finished the dishes and pulled the drain I realized nothing was happening. The water refused to move, it just sat there as if the drain plug was still in place. OK...  What could be wrong? Had I some how managed to plug it up? I had to run into town anyway so I stopped and picked up a bottle of drain cleaner. That would fix it right? Wrong! Alright, so its not plugged up, could it possibly be frozen? We really thought there was no way for that to happen. We had been VERY careful to make sure the sewer line was well below the frost line. It was nine feet down, it couldn't freeze! Just to be sure back I went to town again this time to purchase a drain defroster. It was expensive stuff but even so I purchased two big bottles of it to make sure. I was enjoying  my easy life of running water!

We poured the defroster down the drain and went to bed sure that when we awoke the next morning all would be right in the world again..... NOT! There was nothing left to do but cut the pipes and put a bucket under the sink again. Big sigh! What had we done wrong?

It wasn't until about a week later when Mountain Man was visiting with one of the neighbors who had stopped by that we found out what the problem was. We had been driving our vehicles over the sewer line. Each time we had driven over the line we had also driven the frost deeper and deeper into the ground until it had reach the line and eventually frozen it. What a silly mistake!

So, there I was for the rest of the winter at -30 much of the time hauling my buckets of water out the door. Let me tell you, when the air is that cold you can see it start to freeze before it even hits the ground.

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