Water, Frozen Pipes, and the Sun

A week ago, Jill got up at 4 am to go to the bathroom, came back to bed and said this: "Greg, the water doesn't come on in the bathroom or kitchen." "What?!" I came out of bed like I'd been shocked with a cattle prod. When it's 10 degrees outside and your wife tells you these things at 4 am, you don't hit snooze.

I rush around and check every tap in the house. Drips, then nothing. Panic. Pipes are frozen. Where's the leak? Will they burst?

I go back to bed and lay down to think. Jill: "What are we going to do?" Me: "I really don't know."

After thinking, I bolt again out of bed to check outside for the value. Is it intact? Can I shut it off? Should I? There's a line going down the wall next to the hot water heater/heater area. Oh no.

I feel the wall and sure enough it feels wet to me. Pipe burst inside the wall. I stew, I wonder who I can call at 4:30 am. What can I do? I think of tearing out the sheetrock. Should I go ahead and tear out the wall?

I try to turn off the value. It breaks. New value--but it's frozen tight and breaks when I bear down on it to move it.

There's a second line on the wall, higher, looks like it's coming from the ceiling.

Then, I notice the line near the ceiling looks mysteriously like the cord for the attic in shadow form. I stretch above the van to nudge the cord, and the line on the wall moves. Not water. One line down.

What about the other line? I felt it again. Felt wet to me. Then I turn around and see the antennae of the van and give it a good boing boing bump. The line on the wall--the "wet" line--dances on the wall.

At 5 am I wake up my brother, who built our house. "Hey!" He answers. "Sorry to wake you up," I say. "Our water's off. Not sure what to do."

"Uh, well, it's off everywhere?" Brent says.

"Yes, no water. I've called the city. They say nothing's broken out this direction."

"It's probably a yard line--it got so cold it froze. It's probably nothing in the house," Brent says.

"I don't see any leaks so you're probably right," I say.

I thank him and we hang up.

And wait for the sun to come up.

At 6 am the water comes back on.

Our mistake was waking up at 4 am to go to the bathroom.

GeneralGreg Taylor