The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Opinion

January 13, 2014

Letting winter faucets trickle was just a drop in the bucket

AN EDITOR'S NOTES — I LEARNED a good lesson from my grandfather as a kid growing up in a rowhouse on Emerson Avenue in Farrell during the cold of winters, but I didn’t put it to very good use last week.

The old two-story house was typical of some old homes in Farrell in the 1960s. In our house, if it was insulated at all, it was at a bare minimum.

An outside wall felt like the door to the refrigerator in the winters, and having “storm windows” of the day was like having none at all. Things were pretty drafty, and the coziest place was on the floor in front of the furnace registers, dirty coal-furnace heat and all.

We must have been a lot tougher in those days, because things like mold, which we hear so much about today, was a common sight on the damp, old cement block foundations in the dark, musty cellars in old houses like ours.

During the most frigid days of winter, like we experienced last week with sub-zero temperatures, I remember my grandfather going to every faucet in the house, and turning them on to trickle a little to prevent the uninsulated pipes from freezing, especially the ones within outside walls.

I remember naively asking him one day if all that wasn’t a waste of money, and he said that the cost of the water would be far less than the expenses and headaches associated with pipes that had frozen and burst.

Uncharacteristic of me last week with the sub-zero forecast, I forgot that lesson about pipes for the upstairs bathroom sink with only about two feet of copper pipe in an outside wall.

And when I got up Tuesday morning to brush my teeth, I was dismayed to turn on the cold water to find nothing – not a drop.

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