Extreme Cold in Maine

Over the weekend, it got pretty darn chilly here in Maine. How chilly? On Friday night, the temperature dropped to 21 below 0F, with a windchill of 50 below. The high never got above 0 during the day, and the wind was vicious the whole time. I love me some winter, but I can pass on the temps that cold.

This was the first bout of really cold weather we’ve dealt with since the kitchen renovation. Back before we renovated, we knew where there were potential trouble spots, and we would take measures to avoid frozen pipes there. (“Measures” really boils down to a couple of approaches: open the cabinet doors so the pipes get more heat and/or leave the sinks dripping. Moving water doesn’t freeze.) But I didn’t really know where we might have trouble with the newly remodeled kitchen. Theoretically, we shouldn’t have had any. The pipes were all well away from exterior walls, so all should be fine. And throughout the day, it was.

Then at 11:30pm, Denisa went to check the kitchen sink, and the hot and cold were both frozen. No water at all. The problem with this is that I wasn’t sure where the pipes might have frozen. Back when we first moved into the house and our pipes froze, we paid to have a plumber come fix it. He used a hairdryer for fifteen minutes, and we paid $100+ for the privilege. Ever since then, I’ve done it myself. (I had no idea professional hair drying was so lucrative!) But if you don’t know where to point the hair dryer, it makes things more complicated.

For the first while, I pointed it at the pipes underneath the sink cabinet. My best theory was there was a draft where the kitchen wall meets the floor down there, but after a half hour, nothing was moving, and I was beginning to wonder what we might do. That spot is completely boxed in, so it’s not like I could rip it open to get to it. So instead, I took a loooong extension cord and headed into the crawl space.

The clearance there is less than two feet, so I army crawled my way down and got everything set up, then started hair drying bends in the pipe. (Bends freeze before straight spots, or at least that’s what I’ve been led to believe.) It took a while, but slow and steady wins the race. By 12:40 or so, we had water moving again. Enough to discover the pipes to the dishwasher (off that sink) had also frozen.

Once again, it was trial and error to see where I needed to warm the thing up, but by 1:30, everything was thawed, I was showered (that crawlspace is tres nasty) and back in bed. Not the funnest way to spend an evening, but I’m grateful we found the freeze before anything could get really damaged. The sink shouldn’t be a problem now that I know it might freeze. We’ll just let it drip as well. The dishwasher’s a bit more problematic, but we’ve had temps down to -9F and it’s been fine. It seems it was just the extreme cold and the wind that did the damage.

Other people in the area were not as lucky. Burst pipes and power outages. Also house fires, because any time you’re trying to take extreme measures to keep your house warm, things might go awry. It was very cold.

And now today it’s going to be 41F. Go figure.


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1 thought on “Extreme Cold in Maine”

  1. Louisette Castonguay

    Just a side note. Pipes burst, not on freezeing, but on thawing, when the ice expands, and the pressure of more volume in less space will pop a pipe, so when pipes are frozen, crack open a faucet or faucets to redcude teh pressure of expanding thawing ice.

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