I placed the light where I thought it would do the most good and plugged it in to the extension cord. There is one exterior outlet on the mobile home and that was my intended power source, but when I got the cord run to it over firewood piles and through the porch filled with straw bales and construction lumber, I found that the outlet cover had slid down the siding and partially blocked the outlet inside so that the end of an exterior extension cord would not fit. It was 4 degrees outside: I could not budge the cover now. I needed an alternate power source.
There is an outlet inside the garage that serves as a lumber shed, but that was too far away. There is a 100-foot extension cord in the small barn where I store yard maintenance equipment, but after the ice storm, the padlock and the door will be all iced up. My only viable choice was to run the cord inside the workshop though the sliding glass door. The cord will keep the door from closing and that will let some bitter cold air inside, but it can’t be helped at the moment.
I plugged the cord into an interior outlet, went out to be sure the spotlight was on, then closed up the hatch. There was enough gap around the edges to allow the cord to pass through with the hatch closed. Probably one reason the pipes iced up. I made note to duct-tape the cracks of that hatch along with the vents each fall.
I was inside tending to the dogs when Marie telephoned a few minutes later. While I was talking to her I heard a strange sound. Investigating, I realized the bathtub tap I’d left turned on was gurgling and spitting. That didn’t take long! I soon found that Mom’s water was back on as well. Water at our home, however, was still out. I left the light on in the shop crawlspace just to be sure it didn’t freeze up again. We did leave taps trickling over night, but that hadn’t been enough.
I opened the hatch under our home and checked the heat tape on the pipe that comes up out of the ground there: warm to the touch. We have a concrete foundation under our home and the crawl space stays reasonably warm in the winter as long as I close the vents in the fall. I didn’t think anything had frozen there.
There were several suspicious areas, but my prime suspect was the place under the end of the workshop where the water line, hung under the flooring of the shop, turns downward and goes underground to traverse the 40-foot or so gap between shop and home. There is no heat tape on that one. Bitter cold has not been a problem in the 15 years we’ve lived here – except for the past two years. I’ll need to be upgrading our system if this is going to be an annual event.
Getting to this pipe means one of two things:
1) Removing the tin skirting from the end of the trailer. This would seem the simplest except that the skirting and the wooden framing it fastens to is buried 6 inches or so into the dirt as well as being tucked up under the trailer siding. It will not just “come off." I’ll need to dig a trench in the frozen ground (it’s 4 degrees outside remember) and wrangle the panel out from under the siding.
2) Crawling the 77-foot length of the mobile home from the hatch near the front of the shop to the far end, dragging whatever equipment I’ll need along with me. We’ve already discussed how I feel about that.