Yeah, Christmas is not really a big thing here at the Secret Lair but it is awfully close to the change of the year and that’s traditionally when we get a huge cold snap. Not every year, but it’s worth watching out for. I checked the forecast and indeed things are supposed to go very cold starting, basically, this very evening. And you know what I never got around to doing? That’s right! I never did crawl under the Lair to make sure rats hadn’t made condos out of my pipe insulation or something. So far December has been pretty mild but that’s about to change big time and it makes a lot more sense to crawl around on dry dirt on a mild day futzing with insulation than it does crawling around in half-frozen mud repairing pipes when the afternoon peaks in the twenties.
And sure enough, I should have been paying more attention to my insulation. Took me a couple of hours to finish fixing the damage, in fact. A couple of sheets of rigid insulation had fallen, one piece of pipe wrap was god knows where, but the best part was what I saw when I looked at the riser.
The riser, of course, is the pipe between the ground and the floor. It hangs out in the wind in all weather, with no earth or floor to keep it warmish, and so is by far the most likely to freeze first. I’m from Michigan, busted pipes are not new to me, but I’m also no builder and have never figured out how to make a cabin skirt tight enough to keep rats out. My one attempt at skirting the cabin resulted in such a huge mess that I decided I was better off without. That means I need to keep the riser insulated beyond all reason. I wrap the pipe in pool noodle, the noodle in fiberglass batting, and the batting in plastic. Of course I looked at it in autumn but never climbed under and gave it a real inspection. Looked fine from the outside, but under the cabin we were pretty much down to the noodle. Somebody had stolen the bulk of my batting.
So I got that replaced (never throw old insulation away) and all the other inadequacies made as adequate as possible. Nighttime temperatures are headed for the wrong side of zero and days are supposed to stay below freezing, so if the plumbing is going to freeze it’ll be this week or next. At least while I’m crawling through freezing mud fixing it – again – I’ll have something to grumble about besides my own negligence.