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Trial by Ice

Barely 24 hours into being fully transitioned into Maine life, after completing the sale on my Maryland house, I came face-to-face with the real north: frozen pipes. I was so happy to only own one wonderful home with a wood fire at its core. The frigid cold made for powdery snow, perfect for x-country skiing. And that’s what I’d done, gone with Laura across the frozen pond bordering her yard, into the nicely groomed snowmobile trails that wove through the wilderness of Waldoboro. All we saw were moose tracks as we slid along. We finished with some homemade hard pear cider, and I went home. Something was wrong. Something was blocking the drains from the kitchen sink and the bathroom off the kitchen. Ice.

Living in Maine for nearly three years now, tales of frozen pipes are part of the scenery. Until it was my house, until the temperatures plunged to 15-20 degrees below zero, I hadn’t felt that grip. Now, if I still lived in Maryland, I’d immediately call the plumber or some such. In Maine, they expect you to do everything that you can do first. So, first thing the next morning, I ventured down to the small crawl space under the bathroom where the main water pipes lay behind layers of insulation. But the new layer of insulation outside the space had shut off the door. I couldn’t reach my pipes without heavy knives.

That’s when I started making phone calls. I called Mike who’d done the insulation of my study; I called Josh, a local builder; and I called Laura’s husband Brian, since I knew he was handy with frozen pipes.

After returning from errands an hour or so later, I found a car in my driveway. It could have been any of the three — since all were more than willing to help. Lucky perhaps that it was Mike, since it took him nearly three hours to crawl into every space under my house, and help me discover the wonder that is my pipe system. Turns out that my main drain pipe was wrapped in heating tape, but it wasn’t plugged in.

I woke this morning to working drains. Something tells me that it won’t be the last time I crawl under my house to check on pipes and freezing, and other things that I don’t care to consider.

Mainers expect me to take matters into my own hands, and fix these things myself. But the beauty is that there’s plenty of people to help me.

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2 Responses to Trial by Ice

  1. Cousin Mark says:

    Cousin Susie –

    Read this story, thinking all along “Heat trace tape.” And there it was, just not plugged in.

    Signed, Your Maryland cousin who even knew

  2. julie says:

    Cute. Little electric blankets on pipes. glad you’re safe and fluid.

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