Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Frozen Pipes and Stained Glass Windows

I had wanted to start working on the candle offering table yesterday, but my plans were derailed by a case of frozen water pipes in the kitchen. When the plumbing was installed several years ago, the hot and cold supply lines were placed on an exterior wall and left uninsulated. Since man-made global warming has failed to materialize like we were promised, we continue to have this effect known as frigid temperatures in the winter, which causes the pipes to freeze.

I'm usually attuned to the weather and when I know we're in for one of these arctic blasts I leave the faucets on a trickle. It's a suboptimal solution but it's allowed me to punt having to deal with it for a good long while. My pipes tricked me this time, however, by not freezing overnight as they usually do, but rather at around 6 p.m. or 7 p.m., which has never happened -- and it didn't seem all that cold anyway!

When it wouldn't thaw, though, it forced me to take action, so I ended up getting a pair of heating cables that you tape to the pipes and when it senses the temperature is around freezing they supposedly turn on.

After several hours of waiting, the cables never got warm. Most likely it's because the part that gets frozen is actually somewhere between the floor joists and the kitchen, a section that's only a foot or so in size, but completely inaccessible. I've even tried getting at them from outside the house, removing the siding and cutting a hole in the sheathing, but to no avail. The concrete foundation wall is a good 3-feet high and prevents accessing them.

So what I did, since the cables didn't seem to be working, and since I had exposed the pipes to where I could reach them a little, I just took out my heat gun and blasted them. In about 20 seconds the ice dam thawed sufficiently to allow the water pressure to push it through and we had running water again.

I gotta admit, demo-ing the storage room ceiling and attempting to install the cable consumed far more of my time and energy than I planned, not to mention wreaking havoc on my knees, so I didn't have much time left in the day to do any of the projects I had wanted:

* Make the offering candle luminary
* Do the stained glass window
* Age the holy water font

I've got a fun way to tackle the luminary (fun for me, anyway...insert Tim Allen grunts here), which I'll share in the future when I actually start on the project, and my original idea for the stained glass wasn't really going to work.

I'd thought of simply using painted sheets of transparencies to cover the opening, but it really wasn't going to look good because the openings were larger than the sheets and I'd have to use 2 sheets for each window, meaning there would be a line in the middle. So instead I'll use a sheet of plastic, like Plexiglas and Lexan, just not as expensive and then paint it up.

As for aging the font, I want to see if there's a quick way to achieve an aged copper patina, otherwise I'll just have to use paint, because as many of you noted, it's too new and shiny.

But all those projects had to take a backseat to the frozen pipes today. I still need to come up with a long term solution for them because I'm not sure the heating cables will get cold enough to work, but at least there's access to them now so that if they do freeze again, I'll be able to quickly hit them with a heat gun.


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