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To freeze, or not to freeze: that is the question

By Debbie Leffler • Jan 16, 2018 at 2:00 PM

I have a love-hate relationship with water.

I love the ocean, Lake Erie, Niagara Falls, the Olentangy River, Multnomah Falls in Oregon….in fact, there are many lakes, rivers, waterfalls and swimming pools I have enjoyed in my life. Watching my small children cool off in the backyard sprinkler each summer was a pleasure; so is a hot shower at home on these past cold nights.

But water has its place, and water when it’s not supposed to be there is very upsetting.

So the day before we were to fly to Dallas to visit our grandsons last month, I turned off the faucets that go to my washing machine, just in case the pressure of the water would cause them to break. I always do this before we leave on a trip.

It was then I saw the drip, drip coming out of the faucets, even though I had turned them off. So I turned the faucets back on…they hadn’t been dripping before, so I thought if I put them back in their original position, it would be OK. Wrong. Still dripping.

I didn’t want to leave the house for a week with the faucets dripping. I also had tickets for a flight the next day, so I couldn’t delay leaving.

So, in a panic, I called our plumber, Dale Neel. He and his son Derek came that very afternoon to solve the problem. They installed new spigots, and the dripping stopped. My water woes were over – or so I thought.

Then came the extremely cold weather that you all know about. I should have opened the cabinet under the kitchen sink before we left, because the hot water pipe there has a tendency to freeze when there are extremely low temperatures. But the day we left Ohio, the weather was mild, and I did not foresee the cold weather for such a prolonged period ahead.

So when we got home from our 10-day trip to face temperatures below zero, sure enough, the hot water in the kitchen sink no longer ran. It was frozen.

As I have done in the past, I used a space heater to try and thaw the pipe. A few days later, when the outside temperature reached 18 degrees, the hot water returned that evening. Joy!

But the joy was short-lived, because right after the joy I heard a noise that sounded like running water where it shouldn’t be, and soon after, water came gushing out onto the kitchen floor.

My husband went to the cellar and turned off the water to the entire house, to stop the water spilling out onto the floor.

I made another, even more frantic call to our plumber – this time at 10:00 p.m. And he answered, and listened to my panicked voice.

“Can you get through the night without water?” he asked.

“Yes,” I replied. So we left the water to the house shut off all night, and he and his son came out to our house the next morning.

Turned out it was not the hot water pipe that had broken, but a valve under the dishwasher next to the sink which had frozen, thawed and cracked. So they turned off the spigot to the dishwasher, so we could turn the water to the house back on, and I can certainly live without a dishwasher until that valve gets repaired.

For all my knowledge of grammar, and my ability to explain Shakespeare’s Hamlet line by line, I am helpless in the face of a leaky faucet or a cracked valve under the dishwasher.

So thank you, Neel Plumbing and all plumbers out there, for coming to the rescue of people like us with broken pipes. If a line of Shakespeare could ever be of help to you, I would be glad to help, but I doubt that will ever happen. It’s much more likely that we’ll have another plumbing problem, and I’ll be asking you to come to our rescue once again.

Debbie Leffler is a free-lance writer who lives in Norwalk. She can be reached at [email protected]

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