I pulled in the driveway yesterday after picking up Gavin from daycare and opened the garage door only to see smoke or steam or something pouring out from the garage. It took me a moment to realize that although it was really cold out and the garage was pretty darn warm, it wasn't that much of a difference that there should be that much "fog" and something must be really wrong. I sat in the car outside the garage for a moment to try to see into the garage and figure out what was going on. This fog kept pouring out of the garage and wasn't really clearing up. I had Gavin in the car and, unsure if this was smoke or steam or what it was, I was not about to pull the car into the garage. I left the car running and left Gavin in there, grabbed my phone, and hopped out of the car onto solid ice! I walked into the very warm garage and stepped right into 2" of water. The entire garage floor was covered in 2" of warm water and the air was thick with steam. I couldn't see anything, but I could hear water spraying. I made my way through the steam and the water over to the garage sink and felt water spraying out from the bottom side of the sink. I reached down and checked to make sure the water wasn't so hot that it would scald me and I turned off the hot water valve. That stopped the hot water from spraying, but the cold water pipes were still spraying, so I then I turned off the cold water valve. The garage was a sopping wet mess and the dog wasn't sure what to think of it, but was clogging around in the warm water, probably enjoying the summery swim. I closed the garage door since I didn't want the water to now start freezing and I checked the house quickly to make sure it was safe to bring Gavin in. Then I took him from the car into the house and went back out to the garage to take a closer look. Some of the water had come out underneath the garage door and frozen in the driveway and yard. The water obviously wasn't going down the drain in the garage floor, so I walked out back to find the end of the drain pipe and see if I could tell if so much water had flowed out there that it had frozen over the end of the pipe. None of the water had come out - I couldn't even find the end of the pipe in the grass. When I called Cliff, he said he was almost home so I told him what had happened and what I had done. He asked if either of the garage doors were open when I got home, since the logical explanation would be that we left a door open and the pipes froze. They hadn't been open when I got home.
Cliff came home and did a similar analysis to what I did. Normally, the dog who chews on almost everything would have been the first to blame for this, but there was no evidence of teeth marks on the pipes or anything. Cliff noted that unless the garage doors had been left open and someone stopped by and closed them, then the only other option was vandalism. Could someone actually have come in and opened those valves up intentionally? Well, we went in the house to get our rubber boots on and we had a message on the answering machine that a neighbor had driven by and saw the garage doors open earlier in the day so he stopped and closed them. Thank you for caring neighbors. Unfortunately, the pipes probably cracked while the garage doors were open and the water inside the pipes was frozen. Then when he closed the garage doors and the garage was allowed to heat back up to the temperature the thermostat is set at, the water in the pipes thawed and started spraying through the cracks in the pipes. We had a mess on our hands. I checked the basement and there was no sign of water down there. Thank goodness. Actually, thank God. This could have been so much worse. The house could have been flooded rather than just the garage. It could have been smoke pouring out of the garage rather than steam. Thank God that it was only water and it was only in the garage.
I wonder how many gallons of water were lost. I wonder how many KwH the water heater used! It was definitely working hard! Since we couldn't get the drain pipe thawed, Cliff took advantage of the water and scrubbed the garage floor with a scrub broom and gave the dog a bath. Hey, when life gives you lemons... wash the dog! Then Cliff got started trying to thaw the drain pipe. He ran a hose out the garage window and turned the hot water on. He ended up putting a semi-flexible plastic tube on the end of the hose and pushing that up the drain pipe from the back yard thawing the ice in the pipe as it went. Finally, we had water flowage and the garage drained out!
I have a "card" game called waterworks that I used to love to play and my nephew Nathan now loves to play. It's a game where the cards have pieces of pipe on them and you need to build a plumbing structure from the valve/handle card to the spout/spigot card with at least 15 cards (pieces of pipe) between the two. Your opponent can put leaky pipes on your structure that you need to repair with a like card or a wrench before you can add anymore cards. We've been playing that game a lot lately. Who knew I'd be playing it for real?????