Bill and Juanita, owners of Allenspark Lodge B&B, are living their dream...

running a successful business and riding as often as possible.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Pipe Dreams (Or Is It Nightmares?)

A week or so ago, Juanita and I talked with one of our neighbors.  She had been called away for a long term assignment at her work, and wouldn't be able to spend the winter here in Allenspark.  We suggested, that if her home was going to be un-lived-in for the next couple months, the water should be shut off, to prevent any major problems.  Sounded like a good plan to her so I called the local water district to shut the water off at the curb-stop.  The Water District Guy (yes, singular, it's a small district) told me he'd get right to it, as he was going to Australia to visit family for the next 6 weeks.  Late the next day, I checked the water at her house and nothing came out of the sink.  Good.  Next trip to town, I'd pick up some RV antifreeze for the toilets and sink traps, and hope for the best.  The lines hadn't been blown out, so there was still a chance something would freeze if the power went out, but damage should be minimized.

Next, I caught a cold.  I spent 2 days in my sweats, coughing and whining.

Yesterday, Juanita and I finally took the antifreeze over and walked into her place.

"Oh!  Dear Me!  My Goodness!"  Well, I said SOMETHING along those lines.

      "Water, water everywhere, and 'nary a drop in the sink."

I slogged through the bedroom to the bath/laundry room, which at that moment was doubling as a 150 sq. foot walk in shower.  I snapped on the light.... Okay, some habits are hard to break.  Standing in 3 inches of water while being sprayed with a flood of cold water is not the best time to operate ANY electrical appliance or device.  The light didn't work anyway.  But I could see that the oil filled electric space heater sitting in the middle of the lake was still on.

"Oh!  Dear Me!"  and I back-peddled out of the room without touching any pipes or OTHER electrical devices.

"Me Oh My!"  The water hadn't been turned off, it had been frozen.  Remember the power failure on New Year's Eve?  It had just taken a few days to thaw out (It's -8 degrees this morning as I'm typing this.  Hard to believe ANYTHING could thaw.)

Okay- the main shutoff is in the meter-pit out back.  An 8 foot deep, 5 foot diameter concrete pipe in the ground with a 4 foot diameter 5 inch thick concrete lid covered with snow.  No problem, I know approximately where it is.  Finally got the lid found, brushed off and broken free.  Slid it over and saw...wait for it....WATER.

"Good Heavens!"

The meter-pit had 5 or 6 FEET of water in it.  No way I was getting in there without arctic diving gear.

I wandered  back home in my squishy wet boots and socks and called the Water District to leave a message.  I figgered in 6 weeks someone with a great tan (it's summer in Australia) would show up and stop the flood.  The machine gave me another number to call for the Substitute Water District Guy!  Score!  I called and he picked up.  He had dropped by his house to warm up.  Apparently the District had a major leak that they couldn't find, so he had been going door to door, reading meters and looking for evidence of a leak for 2 days.  The day after the Primary Water District Guy went on vacation, the leak had started.

The Substitute Water District guy told me he would round up the other guys and come on over (cell phones don't work up here...).

I pulled on a set of muck boots while I was waiting and went back to see if Noah had shown up with any lumber or critters.

I went into the shower room, giving wide birth to the heater, and (using a flashlight this time) found the indoor water cutoff behind the water heater, just under one of the major leaks.  I wrapped a knuckle on the valve to see if I was charged from standing in the lake with the heater. No shock.  Good.  I turned the valve off.


I stood dripping off for a moment, and then went outside to wait for the boys.

I really hate plumbing.



  1. Oh, I am cringing!

    Cold water in cold weather is no fun... and that really really sucks to be everyone in this situation (you freezing your butt off with a cold, your neighbor with a house full of water, and the Australia vacationer who may get in a wee bit of trouble, eh bloke?.

    So sorry!

  2. Oh, someone's arse is grass when he gets back from Australia.


    Did you try on my cool white muck boots that are too big for me? I bet a couple of pairs of dry socks would have fit in them.

  3. Rachel- As it turns out, the guy had shut off the water using another valve, halfway to the building. Sadly, it only turned off the water to one of the out-buildings...

    GunDiva- I thought about it, but a pretty as those shiny white muckers are, my size 11's 'aint gunna fit.

  4. That's definitely a nightmare for that poor homeowner!! That's the kind of stuff that always happens to us when we leave town, so I can really sympathize!!!

  5. We have friends who have a vacation home in Bend Oregon and when they arrived at their house this had happened and the whole house was covered in mold after it had warmed up. Gross. Now the house in a major tear down, rebuild.

  6. Plumbing and feezing just don't mix, that's for sure. Too bad this was averted as planned. I'm SO glad it's not my mess to clean up and so right about the mold. That's next. yuck!

  7. Oooooooo man.. I can just hear the words that came tumbling from underneath your 'stache Bill. And my ears are burning. Wowza...

    I second what Diva said-- someones arse is grass in a BIG way...

  8. I don't know dude... the official Water District Guy is probably supposed to know those things, right? I think the homeowner could probably make a case - cuz I bet that's not going to be cheap or easy to clean up.

    Oh and Bill, if GunDiva's suggestions of a couple pairs of socks won't work, maybe just try the boots on with a pair of nylons?


  9. Good heavens! I think I would have called 911 and completely freaked out. You are way calm! (or so you say, lol)

  10. Horrifying!

    I suspect that is how our new place looked when the bank finally got someone out here to turn off the water. Our subfloor has a lot of 'creaking' spots now thanks to the deluge. When it becomes time to replace the carpets, that will definitely be something we have to tighten back down.

  11. Fortunately, the place was built for summer use only. That let the water flow right back outa there. No nasty sub-floors or pesky insulation in the walls. Things are drying up nicely. Still pretty cold, though...


  12. I would throw up being the homeowner, but I died laughing at your plumbing issues...again.

    Very glad you didn't get shocked. That would have hurt really bad and the only floating bills we like are Benjamin Franklins.


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