Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Chicago I love you but are REALLY REALLY bringing me down.

Figure 1: Sasha's demeanor throughout the entire range of events in this post.
Here is what's happened in the last 24 hours since we returned to Chicago.

Stepped off plane, immediately froze and regretted not still being in Mexico.

Arrived home to discover our water pipes had frozen. It's been subzero the last week so we understood why this might happen and were not terribly upset since this was probably an easy fix. We live in a coach house, so when the pipes freeze it's usually in the basement of the three-flat in front of us since our water supply passes through their basement. No biggie.

Figure 2: Thawing the pipe.
Only they changed the lock to the basement of the three-flat last summer and forgot to give us a new set of keys. All our neighbors were asleep.

Now we got upset.

We wrote a note, posted it on the door, and hoped someone would read it and let us in. One kind neighbor did just that, and we got into the basement around 9 a.m., whereupon I started working on thawing the pipe while Mich ran to Home Depot to make a copy of the key, and pick up insulation for the pipes.

After some diligent work we have the water flowing in our place and I run a victory lap in the freezing cold having decided we earned the treat of driving into work after this minor inconvenience. Mich gets home and is also happy we have water, then heads to put insulation on the pipes before we leave.

Two minutes later she's back in our house yelling "There's water everywhere!" A pipe in the basement has burst.

Figure 3: After thawing the pipe. Whoops!
There is no universal cutoff for the building. I won't go into the particulars, but after trying to find it ourselves, waiting for a plumber to show up who admitted he couldn't find it either, then exploring a bunch of other options including getting the city to shut off our water (turned out they are understandably backlogged with similar calls for help due to the weather) we decide we need to refreeze the pipe further up from the break so the plumber can replace the piping.

Freezing the pipe needs special gear and will roughly double the cost of the repair. Our landlord gives us the go-ahead. We wait another hour for the special equipment to show up. The second plumber finally arrives and we are in business!

Only we're not. After an hour of trying to freeze the pipe it's apparent the water is flowing too fast to create an ice plug that will cease it's flow. But it is slowing down from a gush to, well, a slightly smaller gush. Our plumber friends decide they are going to do the repair "on the fly," and just try and get it done quickly enough that they don't get completely drenched since option A and option B (and to be honest C, D, andE) that's been attempted hasn't been wholly successful yet.

Mich and I decide we probably don't want to be around for this.

Figure 4: This is what it looks like when you intentionally freeze a pipe. So you know.
Twenty minutes later the plumbers triumphantly announce the leak is fixed! But hoo boy is the plumbing old so our landlord should probably get a lot of work done. But at least our problems are solved for now. After slowly turning the water back on—apparently when welding pipe the pressure can get thrown off and they wanted make sure no valves or faucets exploded (?!)—we pay the plumbers (happily, I might add ... this was a bonkers tough job) and finally relax.

We immediately start discussing when / where / what our next trip to a warm climate is going to be. Seriously consider total relocation. Collapse into a heap.

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