Argh. Recovering from a sub-freezing house.

I’ve been away for the past 2.5 weeks, in Laguna Beach attending a family reunion combined with a cousin’s wedding, followed by a week staying with Stacey in the Bay Area. And as some of my gentle readers who live in the Northeast might know, it’s been a mite frosty in Boston this past week.

So I came home to Medford last night, and found my house a wee bit chilly. As in reading 30 degrees (Farenheight, not Centigrade, unfortunately) at the thermostat. Sh*t.

After a little investigation I determined that the breaker in my furnace’s burner had popped, and so my house had been unheated for probably the better part of the week. Oops. So I immediately turned off the main water shutoff, and reset the burner, and let the house warm up. In the meantime, with nothing else to do, I went to bed. At this point, the house is a toasty 68 degrees, and I have electric heaters blowing hot air into the crawlspace underneath the kitchen and underneath the kitchen sink, where it is still pretty chilly due to a lack of adequeate insulation in the kitchen and the un-insulated crawlspace.

<lj -cut text=“Damage assessemnt”>As far as I can tell, the heating system mostly survived, since it is a single-pipe steam system, so there wasn’t much water in the pipes to begin with, and there was plenty of space for the water to expand. One or two radiator valves seem to be missing and are leaking minor amounts of steam, but I think they were probably doing that before this incident.

At this point, it looks like there are no problems in the basement. I can cut off the cold water runs to the kitchen and upstairs bath, and with the hot water cut off, I can turn on the main water main shutoff, and operate the basement water faucet, and the first floor toilet (which is above the basement) will fill and operate correctly.

The washer hookups have burst, so I know there has been at least some damage to the plumbing. The real question is how much damage there is to the plumbing stack leading upstairs to the (one and only) full bathroom, and to the kitchen sink.

For now, I’m keeping the water completely shut off, just in case, and waiting for the pipes to warm up. I’ve called in a plumber to do an estimate, but the earliest he can come is early Monday morning. Given that it seems that I can make the downstairs toilet work when I need to, and I can get water downstairs in the basement, the situation isn’t dire, but it sure isn’t pretty. At least there doesn’t seem to be any obvious water damage from any pipes bursting…