Early Thursday morning I awoke to find there was no running water in the house with which to brush my teeth. The thermometer showed 20 degrees below zero, a sure sign that the switch on our water pump in the laundry room had frozen again.
I really shouldn't be surprised. The storm door scrapes bottom with each new snowfall. To hang a line in Cross Lake required drilling through two feet of ice. Each 30-degree day pushes the "drip" button on the icicles hanging from the roof. And the wood stove in our living room is operating nearly full time.
But winter or not, I still expect the indoor plumping to run on demand.
When I'm the first one up, the usual procedure is to wake Tom to tell him the water's gone again. I know it's not really gone; it just can't seem to get to where it's supposed to go for some reason. On below zero days I take quite a bit of coaxing to get moving as well.
When we moved into this house, there wasn't really a laundry room at all. There was a spot in the garage to hook up a washer and a dryer. The water pump also resided in the garage inside a small "doghouse" that we were told required continuous heat in the winter to keep thawed. The most undesirable part of this arrangement was that, though the garage was attached, it did not have direct access from the house. That meant carrying dirty and clean clothes outside in all kinds of weather between the garage and the house.
Soon Tom, my carpenter husband, extended the house inside the two-car-plus garage to enclose the laundry and pump areas and provide direct access to it. However, this minor water inconvenience still occurs in extremely cold, meaning below zero, weather.
We've tried closing the pet door at night to keep the cold out and our four dogs in. We've also tried turning up the wall mounted propane heater to "high" to keep the warmth coming. Still those below zero nights manage to lock up that switch.
To undo the situation, Tom positions a small electric heater in the direction of the water pump. Within 30 or 45 minutes we're usually operational again. Since I'm not a morning person, however, that's usually longer than I can spare to get up, get dressed and run out the door. The need to warm my car up is already severely cutting into that schedule.
Of course, if my car were snugly parked in the aforementioned garage, I probably wouldn't spend as much time warming it up. However, the law that stuff will expand to fill any available space certainly applies at our home. Instead of cars, our garage houses a wide range of power tools -- from router to drill press and table saw to miter saw. We also keep the lawn tractor inside -- so it will start when blowing snow becomes necessary. Add to all that several tubs of birdseed, leftover garage sale items and the usual gardening and home maintenance supplies, and there's not much room left for a station wagon and a pickup truck.
I imagine the next step for the water problem will be to keep electric heat going near the water pump whenever we expect a cold night coming. We've been stalling because of the expense, but I'm beginning to believe that having running water readily available in the middle of winter is probably worth it.
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