Posts Tagged ‘homeowner’

Last Spring, I bought an old historic house.  This is realtor speak for “money pit.”  My house would make Tom Hanks and Shelley Long proud!  I have already blogged about my pond pool, but since then we have added a new roof–at one point all five skylights were leaking when it rained.  An old cast iron drain pipe from the upstairs bathroom needed to be replaced, but not before it leaked into the basement and created a mold problem.

Finally, winter came.  The pool is closed.  The roof is on.  The skylights no longer allow cascades of water to fall inside my house.  The pipe is fixed.  A closet and ceiling were torn to the bare bones to mediate mold.  I can now sit in front of my fire and enjoy the house I bought.

Until the master bath toilet backed up.

I tried a plunger.  That worked as well as duct tape on the skylights.

Was it just coincidence that the water was backing up when the temperatures had been in the single digits for a few days?

The master bath is huge and non-historic, having been redone back in the 1980’s.  It has two toilets–his and hers–three sinks, and a large walk-in shower and steam room.  (The steam generator does not work.  Imagine that!)

When you use any of the sinks, the water backs up in the toilet.  The shower is fine.  It has a separate drain pipe–the one we already replaced.

The plumber insisted it can’t be a frozen pipe.  Four inch pipes don’t freeze, and we have no other frozen pipes.  He thinks there is a blockage somewhere, but would need to come back later with other, presumably more expensive, equipment.

So with nothing else better to do, I decided to do some investigating.

Here is where the drain pipes come down into the basement.


The darker pipe is from the shower.   It’s cold in this room but not pipe freezing cold.

So where does that pipe go?


Behind that cabinet?  How interesting!  There’s actually part of the cabinet cut out to access the pipe.


Is it going through the wall????  WTH!  The blue packing material isn’t really insulating very well.  There’s a draft here.

So I head outside into the frozen tundra to see what is going on.

The hole in the wall should come out somewhere underneath this brick patio.


So let’s take a peek . . .


Holy Crap!  The drain pipe actually comes outside the house and then back into the basement!  No wonder it froze!  Who in the wide, wide world of sports would have thought it was a good idea to run indoor plumbing outside?  Maybe you can get away with that in Phoenix or Miami, but not here in central Pennsylvania!

And in further confirmation, once the temperature rose above freezing, the toilet and sinks worked normally again.

Did the previous owner never notice this?  I’m sure it must have been below freezing at some point in the last thirty years.

It has subsequently froze a second time.  I hope spring comes quickly!


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I bought a new house the end of March.  It has a pool in the backyard.  I couldn’t wait to open it, but there was always that concern about what would await?  The pool hadn’t been opened in a couple of years.  Problem with the liner?  Pool pump that doesn’t work?  Lines that leak?  Dead body floating on the surface?

Sooo, anyone up for a swim?


I keep expecting something like this to appear  . . .


The pool company opening the pool basically said there is nothing they can do.  Apparently there aren’t enough chemicals to make that water swimmable again.  They recommend draining it,  cleaning the liner, killing the creature,  and refilling it with something other than used motor oil.

Is it a pond or a pool?  We have a pond out back.  And a pool.  The pond would be better for you.

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