Winter is here more tenaciously than I would like….

…..mostly because the previously mentioned mis-timed water project is proving to be extra awkward at this freezing point in time.  No water on tap.

We’ve had cold winters before and there have been freeze-ups of course and life simply went on….somehow.  Canada getting cold in Winter should not be a surprise.

Usually we simply leave a small amount of piped stream-water running through our system and, where the pipes are a bit exposed under the house, wrap them in heat tape.  It is all usually good.  But, when you are on a one-tank system, you can’t leave the pipe run as readily or else you might – if the stream stops for any reason – simply drain your system.

And the piped stream water DID stop running last night.  

So, no ‘let it run’ for us.  Small consolation that the water will not be frozen as the last gallon pours out.  We normally cut the flow a bit to minimize that risk and check every day to ensure inflow is matching outgo. Today’s check revealed no water.

This time our basic precautions were inadequate.  It’s all frozen up – pipes, inlet, outlet, pipes and pump.

When we took the usually-warmer, under-the-house tank offline, we reverted to the bigger up-the-hill tank and, wouldn’t you know, the pipe leading from the upper one is longer, more exposed and worse, now known to be more easily frozen.  Duh.

And, when one part of a system freezes, the idea seems to catch on and the whole system gets frozen.

Maybe the brain freezes up a bit, too, eh?

That little mistake did not deter us at first.  With the bigger genset running we simply put two electric heaters on all the coldest parts and, covering those pipes with blankets, warmed the pipes for a couple of hours in what was then also a warmer and sunny day. The plan: Once the water got flowing again, we would simply let more flow through…..

….it never did thaw enough.

There is no flow.  No flow from the now fully open tap.  No flow from the pump when I turn it on.  NO FLOW.  NO WATER!

“Well, damn it all to hell, I guess we’ll just have to go primitive and haul buckets from the last free-flowing part of the system (about 100 feet away)”.

And so we did that.  Been that way for a few days now. That was an easy challenge to face because the weather suggested two warming days were coming (today and tomorrow) and that ‘the warming window’ might be enough to get us flowing again.

Imagine my surprise to feel the cold just as persistent today as it has been.  No thawing in our near future it seems.  Not in the morning, anyway.  No thawing and no water.  ‘Cept for the already-collected buckets.

Fingers crossed, there is a small ‘window’ of above freezing temps this afternoon…….we’ll be on it.  

AND – this morning – the last flowing part 100 feet away also stopped.  Bad to worse.

How is it….now?  Awkward.  That’s all.  We were carrying fifty pound totes of water 100 or so feet.  Yesterday I carried thirteen.  We use three or four totes a day totaling 20 gallons per day.  No biggy.  The house is warm to come back to.  We are good.  For three or four days…….

But now, even that won’t work – no place to take the totes except all the way to the main stream (almost a kilometer and steep) and that is just crazy.  The timing of the lower tank project could not have been worse.  All I can think of is that I must have somehow mentally adjusted for global warming and must have also unconsciously relied on it.  That has to be a new definition of stupid.

Climate change, as it turns out, is less than dependable.  Who knew?  I think we have to call it what it is: capricious.

There!  I have said it.  Global warming is capricious.  So, sue me.

Latest update: late this afternoon (11th) we got the upper tank and pipe system flowing but the stream is still frozen.  So we can now take from our tank but we cannot replenish it.  But that tank will last us over a month with semi-judicious use.

If we can keep the last part of the system (from pump to tank) thawed.

The bad news is that we JUST got the water moving – just barely – and, with colder temps threatening, this just may be a small battle won in a longer protracted cold war.

Guess which project has just climbed the priority list for Spring?

15 thoughts on “Winter is here more tenaciously than I would like….

    • I wish. Went wagoneer two months ago due to type two Diabetes. No sugar at all now. And scotch is really just super concentrated sugar. Bloody hell! The good news is that all the tests now show ‘good’ and so maybe I can go back to saturating my liver with sugar….?
      Nah. I am trying to be stupid only once now. For me, that’s growth. Twice stupid would be embarrassing. So, I am off the scotch. I may imbibe again now and again……maybe….but infrequently….anyway….what kind of a fool would place his hand on a burning stove as soon as his hand had healed from the last time?
      Well….someone who likes a good single malt, perhaps…….


  1. Water problem sounds familiar – we are back to buckets as well and all frozen up solid. Have some water stored in containers in the bathtub in case the creek stops flowing, but now that there is snow, we can always melt that in a pinch.
    Don’t know about the scotch bit – us mariner types drink rum, and it isn’t mixed with water!


    • Hmmmmm….good point about the rum …..options…choices….decisions…..
      In the meantime, I am running the pump every hour or so just to keep everything going….but that’s a bit silly, really. I sleep during the coldest time. We’ll know by tomorrow if we get another day of ‘flow’.


  2. We were cold with some snow, but last night it rained and all the cliffs are dripping. Fortunately we don’t have any pipes so there’s nothing to freeze. And the lake is so deep it doesn’t either, unless we head into another ice age and Powell Lake becomes the bed of another glacier. – Margy


  3. No more Scotch? !?!?!
    You poor pour man.

    The frozen pipes are a bit of a quandry. We( maintenance and plumbers) have found 1500watt heat guns are the best. No open flame to burn a house to the ground and more heat than you can imagine.
    As for the water bucket brigade.
    Could you use a Hand pumpjack like an old style well pump and connect it to 100 ft of hose?

    Just to save from having to carry it?


    • We used Sal’s old hairdryer and that was good but I like the heat gun thing, too. Could employ it for some other chores now and then. I have come up with a Dave-system to employ when it is NOT so frozen (maybe March) and I did used to have a hand pump that sat in the kitchen and went to the tank below. That was good. But, taking that tank offline (to move it out) made that hand pump redundant so I put it in the greenhouse already with a little sink.

      This is what I intend to do. I will (have already placed the) order the $126.00 one hundred foot long heat tape from Amazon. Then I am going to buy 100 feet of 4″ BIG O drain pipe. Slit it. Put the 1″ water line in it, wrap the heat tape around the water line, spray foam around it with the BIG O containing it. A little custom fitting near the ends and I have a 4″ insulated outside pipe with a 1″ inside water-carrying pipe all supplemented by heat tape temperature activated.

      Waddya think? I’d use cheaper cover than BigO but that seems to be the least expensive pipe I can find big enough to ‘house’ the inner pipe and the foam.


      • Sounds good.
        Do you bury the pipe after you get it all set up? or just leave it?
        There’s some type of weird scent that foam gives off as it degrades.
        Apparently it smells like ant hills?
        Dont ask.
        We had a hottub 20ft up on a deck that carpenter ants set up shop in. They gnawed their way throught the foam insulation and loved it (heated home). We sprayed. Killed em all. Next year same thing. The year after that same thing……
        I had a friend in Whistler who had a bear rip open his hottub and chew and eat just the foam lid .
        Apparently bears will rip foam cars seat to bits for the same reason. The smell of the foam is similar to …ant hills”????
        Bizzarre but there it is


        • Hmmmmm……………doesn’t sound so good anymore…I’d better re-think it – thanks…..the bears are not an issue but ants are. Can’t bury it. Granite. So, I’ll go with the heat tape. Go with some kind of insulation and then….maybe make Cedar boxpipe…?


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