Friday, February 17, 2006

Are we frozen yet?

It's been years since we've had a real freeze in Seattle, particularly over here on the Northwest rim by the Sound. It dipped into the 20s last night; I left the sink in the basement dripping during the night and this morning I went out with a couple gallons of warm water to unfreeze the cats' patio drinking fountain.

The last truly frigid weather I can remember out here was more than 10 years ago, when I lived in Wallingford. The old bungalow had pipes that ran through an unheated crawl space in the basement; when it dropped into the 20s at night, I'd leave the door from the main floor to the basement open and let water drip slowly in the kitchen sink.

This technique worked until I went to visit my parents in Florida. On the second day of my trip, the catsitter called to report that when he'd gone to take care of the cats, he couldn't get any water out of the sink, and the pipes were apparently frozen. "By the way," he said. "You'd left the door open to the basement. But don't worry, I closed it."

Aaeeeii! For some reason, he'd then waited to call me until after he'd left the house and had driven 20 minutes to work on the other side of town. Fortunately, I was able to contact a contractor friend who rushed over, defrosted the pipes, and then wrapped the pipes in the crawlspace with a special plumbing heating pad.

So far, so good, over here at the new house. But I'd hate to see the temperatures get into the teens.

This post probably sounds totally wimpy to folks from New England, where sub-freezing temperatures persist for weeks on end. When I lived in New Haven, I had an Toyota Corolla with leaky doors that added a particularly miserable twist to winter. Snow would melt, drip into the doors, and then freeze, immobilizing the door locks. I'd have to enter and exit the car via the hatchback, sometimes for weeks, until the weather relented and the doors drained and dried.

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