“shouldn’t take too long….” (hah!)

You’d think we’d know Murphy better by now.  But we don’t.  Even when we factor in that it will take at least twice as long to do something as it should, that factor is absorbed by Murphy and we then take four times longer.  Death, taxes and Murphy’s laws….inevitable.

I bought a long heat tape for the stretch of water line that was freezing up.  One hundred feet.  Then I bought 16 insulating foamy wraps each 6 feet long (96′). Then I opened the package…’NOT TO BE USED ON WATER PIPES’.

Seems I had purchased ice-dam, gutter protector wire that uses electrical heat to melt ice just before the gutter so that you don’t lose your gutters to excess ice build up.  The item was billed as heat tape. Part of the problem when shopping Amazon – you can’t always read the fine print first.

Sal: “Well, how bad can it be?”

So, I unraveled it and fired it up and it got warm.  Then it got a bit warmer.  Just as I was wondering how hot it might get, it stopped and cooled and stayed cold. “Of course!  It is thermostatically controlled and, right now, during this test, it is NOT cold enough so it turned itself off.  Of course!” 

“So, do we put it on when it says NOT to?  Do we wait til it is so cold that the pipes freeze and then put it on?  How hot is too hot?  And how hot will it get?  Will it melt our pipe? What exactly are you planning here, big boy?”

“We put it on.  The temperature is dropping again and it will take a few hours to do the work and we don’t want to be out here that long so let’s get on it.”

And, so we did.  Two hours later, we could not feel out fingers and we had only put the tape on, and insulated 24 feet.  Each foamy insulator needed taping up so it did not come off.  Hard to put on duct tape with frozen hands.  We went in.

Next day it was colder but we put on another thirty feet before wussing out.

Today I got the last of it on and with no time to lose.  Everything was frozen again.  Last night was simply too cold for the water in the pipes.  It all went hard. So, after the last of the pipe was done, I fired up the genset and we turned the NOT-TO-BE-USED tape on.  I monitored the pipe every 15 minutes to see if it was melting or the tape was not working or something else was happening that should NOT.

But it worked.  We celebrated with showers.

What is the point, Dave? 

Not much.  No point, really.  It’s just that nothing is simple.  Murphy always interferes.  Cold is a big factor when duct taping.  What looked like a simple, easy fix turned out to be a three day chore fraught with anxiety because of the words, ‘DO NOT USE IT AS YOU WANT TO, YOU FOOL!’

Just another minor chapter in disobeying the rules, doing what you were warned not to do and being persistent in so doing.  Another example of ‘making do’ and ‘surviving’ as best you can with what you have.

Or: what a man and woman will do for a warm shower.

I dunno…..just another day in the life?

9 thoughts on ““shouldn’t take too long….” (hah!)

  1. The “not to be used on water pipes” is probably a liability thing.
    Can you plug it into a GFI plug or breaker?
    We dont want electrocuted Off The Griddled’ers now do we……?


    • I am on a breaker. We’re good. But the pipes are PVC so no problem there. I was thinking the same thing…..They don’t know how it is used so, CYA all the way in every way. Anyway, at this stage there is no alternative. And it’s working. Tomorrow is another day…. We’ll see


  2. I could go for a warm shower at the cabin, but the barrel shower on top of Wayne’s writer’s retreat boat is probably frozen solid, or worse yet, cold as ice. Guess I’ll have to stay happy with our woodstove heated spit baths. The tub is full of barge, camping and quad gear to keep it from mildewing outdoors. You have to have priorities. – Margy


    • I hate to admit this publicly but a daily shower is in my top ten list…..near the top…..In that, I am truly a wuss. These real wilderness guys who only bathe on their alternating birthdays are hardier than me. Stinker, too. Mind you, scotch used to be in the top ten, too. Time changes priorities, I guess.


      • I’d love to say that a hot shower is in our top 10 too, but like Margy, we are reduced to woodstove heated baths as well … pipes are still frozen (afraid 100′ wouldn’t make it in our case), and the bathtub is full of water containers so that we have liquid water in case the creek freezes up. Maybe this spring … I dream of warm water falling on my head.


  3. Some say ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ but Frank will not turn up any time soon with a hairdryerto melt the blockage, so a tape job, regardless of any contrary admonitions, will have to do. In fact it’s an example of smart thinking as long as there is no danger of a ground fault at any of your taps.


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