When I started this blog, I intended to keep doing regular updates on how the house is holding up, changes, modifications, and additional detail about the construction, particularly the mechanical systems. However, after reaching Bozeman I ended up with some unexpected time off and decided to make the best of it. There will be a future post with a brief description and some pictures from that trip, but for now, lets focus on the house.
When I left Bozeman on October 20, it was still relatively warm, and although we had gotten snow, there wasn't any on the ground. What a difference two months makes. I got back on Christmas Day and was welcomed by a foot and a half of snow that had drifted much higher in some spots. After hopping the fence, the first thing I did was turn on the propane and fire up the heater. Outside temperature, 19 degrees, inside temperature 23 degrees. While I waited for things to start thawing out, I started shoveling to keep warm. An hour later, I had a parking space, fence that could swing open, path around the house, and path to the "main" house to access water.
Before I go any further, I've got to send a HUGE thank you to Shenee. When I left in October, it was warm enough that I wasn't thinking about snow or freezing temperatures, nevermind sub-zero temperatures. I was shorts and a t-shirt on the California coast when I had the urge to check the weather in Montana. Bozeman was in the middle of a cold snap and I immediately remembered that I hadn't drained the water. My mind raced through the scenario of burst water lines, and even worse, burst water tanks, which are almost impossible to get to as I pretty much built the bathroom and closet around them. In a panic, I called Shenee, who was the only person I could think of within 1,000 miles of the house and begged her to go check on it. She was there later that day, and found that the water lines were completely frozen and the tanks had at least an inch of ice around the exterior. She cranked up the propane heater, bought a small electric heater, and spent the night in the sweltering heat of the house trying to thaw it out. In the morning, the lines and tanks had thawed enough that she was able to drain the water. There didn't seem to be any major damage other than the kitchen sink, which was leaking. Easy fix. Thank you Shenee!
One thing that didn't get drained before the freeze was the 200' hose to the house. That had to wait three day for above freezing temperatures before I got it thawed out. Once that was accomplished, I refilled the water tanks, made sure to do a thorough job draining the hose, and then pressurized the water system. Luckily, nothing was damaged besides the sink side sprayer and some beers that froze and exploded. Shenee really saved my butt on this one.
In the last two weeks, I've been really starting to use the house and have found a few things that I wanted to change. First, there wasn't anywhere to hang any winter clothes aside from the coat hanger. With winter lasting nearly 6 months here, I decided to add some convenient but out the way places to hang gloves, hats, and of course, ski boots! I also spent a few hours running some power and media cords through the closet to conceal them and clean up the look of the closet area.
Over the past few days we've had another cold snap, with nighttime temperatures reaching as low as -25°F and daytime highs only reaching 1°F. With these prolonged temperatures, I've had issues with the water lines to the sink freezing. Even with the living area of the house staying a comfortable 55-65 degrees with the heater on its lowest setting, the water lines through the wall were still freezing. There's just not enough insulation in a 2x4 wall to protect the lines from temperatures that low. Rather than battle freezing water lines all winter, I decided to re-route the lines to the inside of the wall. In theory, not a terribly hard thing to do, but trying to work in a tiny cabinet certainly complicated things. After two hours of contorting myself, swearing, and some minor bleeding, the lines were moved and in working order and hopefully freeze proof.