Before I start, let me explain the title.
Back in my misguided youth I worked on commercial sound systems, Muzak to be exact. It was actually a cool job. For every food store or office I’d install, I’d have 2-3 bars. I can’t explain to anyone not a musician how cool it is to light up a sound system and hear it sing. I installed one not too long ago in a kid’s camp dining hall – 2000 watts, concert quality speakers. When I lit it up, you felt immersed in the music from my rather pedestrian iPod.
Muzak worked on a sideband of an FM station. To make it work, we’d have to install an antenna on a roof. I had previously worked for a company that put microwave dishes, point-point, on roofs, so I was no stranger to high work. Me and my partner were on the 20th floor of a building in zero degree weather mounting and antenna. And he said that line – Heat is discomfort. Cold is pain.
Recently we had an unprecendented freeze in DFW.
I not only survived the great freeze in DFW, We did pretty well. This is because I grew up with this stuff, and I take it seriously. And if that weren’t the case, the whole COVID thing was another big wake-up call. Be prepared.
The day the stuff started I was headed out with the missus to get my stitches removed and have a checkup on my shoulder. Which all happened swimmingly. Prior to surgery I realized I’d be disabled for a period, so I stocked up. Ever since lockdowns, I maintain a pantry of nearly a month or better. And as I knew I was going to be disabled so went even further. I typically am a month or more ahead stocking dog food. ‘Tis one thing for you to have a rumbly in your tumbly, it’s yet another for three big dogs to have that.
I wasn’t too terribly concerned about this house surviving this. While built in 1962, it was completely rebuilt before we bought it and all the plumbing is PEX. So I wasn’t real concerned about freezing or bursting pipes.
What I wasn’t prepared for was to be pretty much on my own. Saturday before it started snowing, my daughter had an emergency and had to be rushed to the hospital resulting in grandkid number four. So my wife lit out to take care of the other three as is her custom. I can barely use my left arm. So I had to figure out how to dress myself and bathe myself. Which I mostly did.
All over the area power was going out. This is proving to be a mixture of incompetence, lack of forethought, and a once-in-a-lifetime freeze. This is Texas though, so I have every faith that heads will be knocked and blood will spill and the problem will be fixed.
Some of the funnier things I’ve seen a bit on nextdoor,com.
“A pipe burst in my house how do I turn the water off?” Seriously?
“I’m afraid a pipe might burst and I want to turn the water off how do I do it? Does anybody have one of those tools?”
Come on people. The first thing you have to know when you own a house is how to shut off the water, shut off the power, and shut off the gas if you have it. This is basic. If you don’t have a tool to shut the water off, the day you moved in you need to waddle to Home Depot and go buy one. I have two myself.
I also have a selection of PVC pipes and fittings, copper pipes and fittings, blowtorch, tools, and man skills. You don’t need these, but they help a metric f-ton.
I grew up back in a time when people fixed their own stuff. I learned how to do this by helping out my friend’s fathers and having to fix my own over the last 30 years. What I didn’t have was any PEX fittings. Or rather had a couple and I have a tool that my son bought me that I’ve played with but I hadn’t needed it yet. I’ll get back to this.
We were incredibly blessed, we had power the whole time. I don’t think this has anything to do with that it’s a nice neighborhood, as I’ve seen the blame game school up on next door. I think it has to do with being on an old electrical grid that can’t be switched off automatically and that happens to feed both a fire station and City Hall. Location, location, location.
When it got really cold in the single digits my hot water stop working. Near as I could figure the supply line to the hot water tank froze. So we had only cold water with one bathroom functioning, but the other bathroom the only water came out of the shower and if I opened up the hot water I could get the water to come out of the sink. So we were camping. Looking back, cleaning things in a bucket in the kitchen sink and manually filling the toilet in my bathroom was a small price to pay.
The power went off and had been off all day at my daughter’s house stranding my wife with three small kids, no way to keep them warm, and no way to feed them in a house at the bottom of the hill covered in snow. So they came here. We had a full, full house. We had heat, food, dogs, kids, crazy fun.
Problem is that Aria, our female rescue, has a finite reservoir of patience and she’s super protective of me. So she’ll nip at the kids. Now they are scared of all of them, even the big doofus Jethro, who wants nothing more than to simply be with them. So we had to manage where everyone was, in a 1700 square foot house.
Tuesday afternoon I was sitting in my office, and I hear a pop followed by water running. Cool! Sounds like something busted loose and water heater is filling. So I go exploring. I hear it behind the washer. Hmm…Maybe the hose blew outside. Nope. Huh. Mystery.
Then the water started seeping from the wall behind the washer. FUUUUUUUCK! So out I go – gimpy arm and all to kill the water.
Love the folks that rebuilt this place. The wall behind the washer is plywood, in 2 sections, with screws. Took no time to undo with my son-in-law helping. Ahh…a busted sharkbite elbow. Crap. I don’t do sharkbite. I’m a man that knows how to do things. I have Copper. I have PVC. I have two PEX nipples, and two sticks of PEX. Not. Going. To. Work. I could cobble a copper plug for the PEX with what I have. As I sat there contemplating a solution, my son in law says …”uhhh…I wonder if my plumbing is OK. We should check”.
That is a plan. You drive me with my gimpy shoulder to Home Despot to get parts, I’ll come with you to your place to make sure it’s not screwed. ROAD TRIP!
`Long story, his place was fine. Had juice, the heat was working, and nothing was leaking. We came back and I shoved a sharkbite elbow on the mess. And while it was ugly (The copper line to the elbow was bent. It’s why it failed.) It worked good enough for now. When I lit the water back up – everything worked – hot and cold, in the whole house, and works still. Small. Price.To.Pay.
As I sit here and scribble this, it’s been above freezing all day. Most of the snow and ice have melted. I meant to do a permanent repair of my washer, but my shoulder is screaming and there’s no way in hell I’m moving a washer to get to it. I’ll make a plea to the son-and-heir tomorrow. Besides, there’s a neighbor on NextDoor that needs 1/2″ couplers, of which my hoarder ass has two. So I’ll change how I’ll fix this mess to help a brother out.
So goes the big storm of 2021 in DFW. Sucked while it was happening. Lot of incompetence and poor planning, of which I’ll write of later.
But for now, there’s dogs to feed, and shrimp and grits to cook.