All I Want for Christmas (Part 1)…

Is heat! We thought we had a few more weeks to finish the remaining utility work, but the snow arrived early.

The water system wasn’t hooked up nor was the heat. Plus our our temporary doors weren’t sealed, and the insulation in the shop was incomplete. We were not prepared for winter! We weren’t the only ones who got caught with our pants down. All the cows weren’t home yet! They had to parade down the road since the snow was too deep along their trail.

We had to work on the heat and water simultaneously. Our radiant heat system is hydronic, with hot water running through the tubes to heat the floor. However, we didn’t want to start running water through any pipes until we could heat the building. Temperatures were already dropping below freezing every night, and we didn’t want our new pipes to freeze!

We literally picked the coldest week of the year to tackle all of this. In fear of more snow, we decided to proceed.

Sam and had already done a lot of plumbing work in the mechanical room. He spent days designing the plumbing system. After a dozen online orders from Supply House, and many trips to the Gorge Rebuild-It Center (where you can fill a small bag with an assortment of copper fittings for $15!), Sam had all of the parts.

I had little involvement in this project other than sanding the copper pieces before Sam soldered them.

And taking photos while Sam listened for leaks.

With Buster’s help, Sam began assembling his creations.

starting with the pipes running to the tank…

to the water filter…

to the boiler (which Terry set up)…

and finally to the hot and cold water manifolds…

I insulated the hot water lines with a little help from Smokey.

At this point we were ready to decommission our temporary water system, which consisted of a water tank and faucet outside near the well. We had to disconnect the old tank and run water and electrical lines to the new tank in the mechanical room. Disconnecting everything wasn’t so simple. The pipes were buried 3 feet underground, with another few feet of snow on top.

Sam began digging with the excavator. This quickly turned into a muddy mess, as snow was falling back into the hole as Sam was digging. Once we spotted the conduit, precision digging was done by hand. Sam luckily worked up a sweat shoveling the heavy mud, preventing him from freezing when it came time to lie down in the hole. I was there to hold parts, paper towels, and anything else that needed to stay clean.

Sam cut some pipes, hooked some things up, and got out. I didn’t catch the details, as my eyelids were beginning to freeze shut. Next, we had to pull about 200 feet of wire from the well pump to the new tank in the mechanical room.

I expected this to take awhile since it was one of our longest pulls; however, it was taking an eternity. Sam eventually came inside, telling me to give up- “the vacuum must not be strong enough”. I removed the vacuum from the conduit and was stunned to see the string. “I’ve been checking constantly. It must have JUST made it through!” That was not the case. After spending the next half hour extracting 1000 feet of string from the vacuum, we got back on track and pulled the wire. Oops.

Sam worked his magic, connecting the appropriate wires and adjusting some valves, and we were ready to fill the water tank inside!

It worked! But….

It leaked!

The copper fittings Sam had soldered were leaking a significant amount of water. Of course by now it was late, dark, and very cold. Sam fixed most of the leaks and backfilled the mess outside. We put a space heater in the room, crossed our fingers and went home.

To be continued…

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