Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later. It was just a matter of time, I just wish it had happened sooner OR later.
Before I get started I want to say that, even the best laid plans are subject to unknown failures. Sometimes, things just break!
So hunting season finally gets here to South Central Kansas and off I go to "Deer Camp" to meet up with the boys and have a nice long weekend telling stories, drinking cold beer, hot liquor, sleeping in the woods and doing a bit of "gathering" on my part.
It's colder than it's been in quite a few years this time of year ( no thanks to the massive Artic front coming in from Canada, really making it feel like Winter for a change) So I accommodate my wife the best I can before I go. Both 100 gallon propane tanks are full and I emptied & flushed the black tank. (thinking that I'd only be gone 4 days so she wouldn't have to "mess" with either)
Not 1 full day into "camp" and I get a frantic call from her at 9am, "I think the pipes are froze, there is no water coming out from the fixtures" UGH!... Luckily, Deer Camp is only about 100 miles from the house. Don't get me wrong, the wife is pretty handy, but for her it's a work day (I'm on "vacation") and I never really expect her to get out in the cold and mess with things like this! (that's why she married me, right?)
So, I pack up and head for home. Expecting (and finding) the worst.
Just a little bit of a back story here.......
We were VERY prepared for winter as far as the water source was concerened. Our main is just 8 ft from the Airstream, so for the upcoming Winter I dug a shallow trench from the main, to just below the water closet at the rear of the trailer. I lined it with plywood and used a short piece of 4" PVC to create a vertical column for the lines to come up into the connections. Wrapped with foil, heat tape, and rubber pipe insulation, I laid it all in place, put a lid over the trench and covered it with the gravel rock we have around our pad here. Mostly proud of the job I had done, and it WAS quite a bit of work, I was certain it would be the one thing I wouldn't have to worry about this Winter.
(that should have been the dead giveaway right there)
Upon arriving home, sure enough, the line was frozen from the connection at the trailer all the way to the main shutoff, ???? How could this be? Yea, it was cold out.... But this line is wrapped, insulated, heated and BURRIED IN THE GROUND! Regardless..... it's frozen.
So I proceed to undo the whole process. Needing to get back down to bare hose so I can bring it inside , get it thawed and see what went wrong. This was NOT a fun time, and to make matters worse is what I found the problem to be.
It may sound obvious and one would assume..... The heat tape had failed, or was done incorrectly and the line froze. Well the heat tape WAS working, initially this is what confused me and made me think I'd done something wrong. Upon complete disassembly of the whole process I come to find that while the heat tape was working.....it was only working for the first 12 inches of the tape. After that nothing but cold wire and frozen hose!
Off to Lowe's I went. Another heat tape, more pipe insulation, and a milkhouse heater.(for the housing I built around the main shutoff and filters) Went through the whole process again of foiling, wrapping, taping, insulating, and burying the hose. ( this time I verified that the heat tape was functioning throughout the entire length of wire) Cleaned up my mess and went inside and took a nice HOT shower.
This morning we woke up to 5 degree temps, with wind chill making it feel like -8 degrees! Needless to say I was almost afraid to touch the faucet, out of fear that it was NOT going to flow any water and I'd be out in the cold again working on that damn hose again. No such "luck", the water flowed like it was supposed to! Now I'm left wondering how long it's going to take me to stop being paranoid about the water line.
Moral of the story......
IF you are "unfortunate" enough to live in a climate where the temps drop to below freezing in the Winter and have to use heat tape to insulate your water supply hose...... Make sure the tape is WORKING before you wrap everything up & bury it all below the ground! It might just save you from 6 hours of frustrating work in freezing temps.