Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Burstin' Pipes

After a pleasingly uneventful day of travel from Colorado, we arrived back in Madison close to midnight on Saturday. As we fumbled with the keys and dragged our bags into the house, we smiled with relief. We were home.

Unfortunately, our relief lasted mere seconds, as simultaneously, I went into the bathroom and Karen looked at the thermostadt. The toilet water was frozen solid and ice dripped from the sink’s spout, while the thermostadt read a chilly 34 degrees. Shit. The pipes had frozen solid.

Cautiously, we walked around the house inspecting the basement and pipes. We were relieved to find no major problems. Once again, our relief was shortlived. As we inspected the second floor, we suddenly heard a a geyser of water erupt through the walls. We ran downstairs, and discovered a shower of water pouring from the kitchen ceiling. Frantically, Karen ran to the basement to shut off the water, and I arranged buckets under the big leaks and spread towels over the kitchen floor. Karen then ripped through the phonebook, calling various plumber emergency lines. Finally, someone answered and agreed to come first thing in the morning, at 6 a.m.

Upon turning off the water, the downpour quickly slowed to a trickle. We cleaned up the kitchen and relctuantly went to bed after realizing there was nothing more we could do until the morning. Throughout the night, in our paranoia, every creak and peep sounded like a new pipe burst.

Luckily Plumber Scott of E-Z Plumbing Compnay Inc. was able to fix many of the problems within two hours, despite entering the house and declaring, in a solemn tone, that old houses like ours don’t fare well with frozen pipes. He went on to tell several more scary stories. Ultimately, we had three leaks, a split pressure valve in the bathroom and two split pipes in the shower upstairs, which leaked out into the kitchen.

Thus, a major disaster was averted. But as our plumber gently scolded, you just can’t live in Wisconsin, and leave for a week during the winter without having someone check on your house. There are many lessons to be learned as a first time homeowner, and I like to think I’m learning vicariously through Karen’s trials and tribulations.

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