Good Thing I Have Pickles


I seem to need a lot of fix-it people.

Today’s problem was a two-parter. One, no water was running to the house. First, the fix-it people went to check out the bladder tank, which is in the barn. The tank was frozen. There’s heat tape, but it was unplugged. Presumably, the previous owners unplugged it for the summer. I didn’t know it was there or anything about it, so I didn’t know to plug it back in. But, at least that problem was easy to solve.

The other problem was so much worse. Before water stopped running, water had started coming up on the floor in the kitchen. It seemed to be coming from behind the dishwasher. The first idea was that maybe a pipe was broken behind the dishwasher. Pulling out the dishwasher revealed no problem. They couldn’t find the leak. The leak appeared to be coming up out of the floor itself. They looked around the outside and found a teeny tiny crawl space that they couldn’t enter. They started talking about cutting a hole in the kitchen floor! Or maybe knocking out more block outside to get under the house. Oh my. You know I’m just loving this entire discussion. They were, at this point, still warming up the tank–hurrying it up with a space heater. With the tank unfrozen, they turned the space heater off, leaving the heat tape on, and water was again running to the house.

And water started pouring down from beneath the siding outside the kitchen.

That’s not good.

The leak was in the wall, and was coming down the siding and also pouring through under the floor somehow and coming up in the kitchen floor, too. THE PIPES ARE IN THE WALL. This is an old house. They used to do dumb stuff like that. So then they started talking about how they could get to the pipes. Take the entire kitchen apart, removing cabinets and drywall. Or cut out the siding on the outside.

The conversation just got better and better!

They decided they had to get under the house, to make sure of everything they were thinking. They got a hammer and started chipping away at the block in the crawl space opening and chipped out enough for one guy to finally squeeze through with a spotlight and get a look. No additional leaking/burst/broken pipes under there. The leak is in the wall, which is also shooting water back into the house under the floor. (He’s not all the way in there in this photo, but he did finally get all the way in.)

Pipes in an exterior wall are a nightmare because they freeze, which is what happened here. Because it could happen again, and because it’s just insane generally to have pipes in exterior walls where you can’t get to them, and because I don’t want my siding cut up, I’m going to have to get someone out here to bypass the pipes in the wall and replumb the kitchen running the pipes under the house (and insulating them!).

Because of the leak, I can’t run the well pump–it’ll burn up because the leak will make it run all the time.

I’m trying to get someone out here as soon as possible. The guys here this morning can’t do that.

In other words–I HAVE NO WATER.


  1. Grouchymama says:

    Don’t you love it when you move and all hell breaks loose? I am so sorry that you are having all these financial drains right at the beginning. The cold weather just multiplies everything and it is so frustrating when you have so much to do and have to spend your money on repairs. You have a lovely farm and when the kinks are all worked out, everything will fall into place. Best wishes to Sassafrass Farm and a prosperous new year.

  2. brookdale says:

    Ooohhh Nooooo! What next????
    Can you get water in the barn? Is that on a separate set of pipes?
    Oh the joys of owning an old house!
    Good luck to you!Hope the plumbers come soon!

    • Suzanne McMinn says:

      No, the water to the barn is also shut off because the well pump has to be shut off. The cows and donkeys have a creek in the rear barn yard, so they have water. I can get water for the goats and sheep by schlepping buckets from the creek and taking it to them……..

  3. yvonnem says:

    Oh Suzanne, that is awful! So sorry to hear something else needs fixing… :heart:

  4. boulderneigh says:

    I am so, so sorry! Electricity is nice (VERY nice) but water is ESSENTIAL. Hope everything is fixed soon, and you don’t have to sell Morgan to do it.

  5. Julia says:

    The amazing thing is that you still have a sense of humor about this. You are going to need it–what will you do when you run out of pickles?

  6. nursemary says:

    Suzanne, did the sale include a home warranty? If so you might have some coverage. In the meantime I can only offer this advice. Don’t drink the pickle juice! It will just make you thirstier!

    Good luck.


  7. BuckeyeGirl says:

    I am so sorry all this has happened Suzanne. I can’t say anything else, and if I could get there to help somehow I would. :snuggle:

  8. bbkrehmeyer says:

    Did you have a home inspection done when you purchased the farm? Don’t know how helpful it would have been, but as someone else mentioned, the homeowners insurance policy should cover the repairs. That still doesn’t help flush the toilet tho does it!!!
    And NO drinking pickle juice. Tequila would work better…….

    • Suzanne McMinn says:

      Yes, I had a home inspection. The house did GREAT. But home inspections don’t cover plumbing beyond checking that the faucets and toilets flush. Homeowners insurance doesn’t cover plumbing repairs. Home warranties are generally for new houses, not for old houses. When you buy an old house, it doesn’t come with a home warranty.

  9. PolloLocoHomestead says:

    If you are running all new piping anyway….do you want to relocate your kitchen? I am an architect in addition to an urban-wanna-be- farmer and I know you mentioned wanting the kitchen back in its original location….plumbing is one of the bigger costs in moving a kitchen.
    You could temporarily re-use all your old cabinets and fixtures….but just move them to the new location???
    Just a thought….maybe too much to take on right now…but thought it was worth considering.
    Good luck!!!

  10. Andrea.tat says:

    Oh no! I really hope they get there ASAP and fix it 🙁

  11. motherbear57 says:

    Without knowing how your plumbing is arranged in conjunction with your cabinets, would it be possible to remove the back and floor of the sink cabinet, open up the wall and floor in these areas, move the pipes forward in to the space where the back of the cabinet used to be and re-insulate well. Then build a false back and floor on the cabinet. My husband and I had to reroute some plumbing and were able to do it that way. We tiled the floor and back wall of the “new cabinet” afterward, which made it a whole lot easier to clean than the old cabinet was. It saved a lot in terms of demo and visible destruction. Perhaps it would work for you as well. Good luck.

  12. SarahGrace says:

    Oh no! I hope you find someone with a good plan and ability!

  13. Old WV Broad says:

    Well slip fire and brimstone. If I knew my mother’s unlisted number in heaven, I would call her just so she could cuss and make you feel better. That woman could cuss and never say a “dirty” word. When she finished (and you weren’t on the receiving end. Lord help you if you were the recipient!) you just felt better all over.

    Just another one of her many talents I did not inherit.


  14. GrammieEarth says:

    OHHH NOOOO :help:
    POOP :shocked:
    GRRRR :hissyfit:

    I’m so sorry all of this is piling on you in such a short time. It can be scary to be a mere homeowner sometimes…let alone a farmer! I’m sending good vibes to you Suzanne, Morgan and all your beloved animals. If I was closer I would come by with my torch, my pipe cutter and some sandpaper, some flux and some copper pipe. I could help save some on the final bill. :bugeyed:

    Watch your repair people closely…basic plumbing is not TOO hard to manage. This is a much bigger than basic kind of job, so just watch, absorb and learn!

    :hug: :hug:

  15. GA_in_GA says:

    Oh that just stinks! Doesn’t your picturesque farmhouse know it is supposed to be perfect?!?

    I think being a homeowner just means being on the first name basis with someone who is handy, or several.

  16. bonita says:

    Well, not much can help when you have no water but here goes:
    it’s not below zero; pipes did not break somewhere unknown between pump and house; you live on a road; you’re not milking daily; you can, if needed still ship Morgan off to cousin’s; you might get away with repairing broken pipe, over-insulating and using heat tape now, (even if part of the kitchen wall remains open for pipe’s sake) then move plumbing, as you already planned, later.

  17. bonita says:

    …For a few years my mom left the cabinet doors open in winter, until she could afford to move plumbing…

  18. Rose H says:

    I’m so sorry Suzanne that you are having such troubles, bad enough for the humans, but to then have to start hauling water for the animals doesn’t bear thinking about – hope the weather keeps well for you.
    Here’s hoping that a fix can be sorted out quickly and without too much more expense for you.
    Sending a :hug:
    Rose H

  19. lizzie says:

    OH NO!!!!!!!! I FEEL YOUR PAIN!!!!!! When we bought our house 12 years ago, we had just remodeled the downstairs, spent quite a bit of money and in that first year we had lots of RAIN, needless to say it came in underground and flooded the whole downstairs, Home Owners Insurance does NOT cover in ground flooding. So I FEEL your PAIN!!!! Praying that you get it fixed SOON! and it does not cost an arm and a leg!

  20. perry says:

    What an awful thing to happen. It seems like there is always something, doesn’t it. Oh, well, what would we do if we didn’t have something to worry about. I guess we would just sit on the sofa, watch tv, eat bon bons and get fat! Now that would be awful! 🙂 i hope everything gets fixed quickly! No water is not fun anytime!

  21. Sue, a Florida Farm Girl says:

    I’m sorry you’re having to deal with this, but thank goodness, its not freezing with snow and ice all over the ground!! That being said, how did the previous owners deal with this situation? Was the leak caused by freezing, or is it just a leak? Since they were so nice to you and really wanted you to have this house, they might have some pointers and info on various quirks you are likely to encounter. Hope you get the issue resolved really quick!!

  22. Wendy says:

    I can’t tell if you have vinyl or aluminum siding. If it’s vinyl, it can be removed and put back on without cutting, etc. I don’t know about the aluminum. My husband does vinyl siding, so I know about that Sorry, we live too far away (Florida) to help.

  23. doubletroublegen says:

    Oh Suzanne so sorry you are having a difficult time. :heart: Hang in there, it will get better and you will have this farm thing down pat! The weather here in WV hasn’t been cold, like most winters in the past, single digit cold :snowman: . I was wondering how the previous owners prevented this problem? Also I am starting to think that just maybe the sister who lived in the studio said you were the “one” since you were the only one brave enough to handle the challenges ahead! :hug: Suzanne you inspire us!

  24. TeaCup says:

    So sorry this happened to you! Is there a “new plumbing fund”? I’m friendly with some sf/f authors who have a “tip jar” on their website. It helps them get to cons, etc.

    We’re having our own financial crisis, not anything as bad as yours, (our car burned out its turbo charger). But if you start a tip jar or some such, I could come up with a buck or two to help!

    I hope this gets fixed ASAP!


  25. bbkrehmeyer says:

    Actually Suzanne, a good home inspection will check for plumbing problems, because they crawl under, over, upon and inside a house. and a home warranty is for older homes.If there is evidence of previous leakage and it was not disclosed on your disclosure form, you could have recourse against both the previous owners and the home inspector seeing as how you just purchased the property. I am a licensed real estate agent and those home warranties are valuable especially if the home is old, but in “good condition” as yours is. Normally I have a seller do an inspection on the property before a sale, then they offer and pay for the home warranty. Maybe laws are different in West Virginia tho.
    Call Holmes on Homes!!!!! (Don’t think he deals in older properties tho…) Good luck with getting the leak fixed.

  26. Pat says:

    I can’t let my husband read your blog right now because he would say, “I told you so.” I’ve always wanted an old farm house, and his reply has always been that old houses are just one expense after another, a la “the money pit.” Like others here, I’m so sorry you’re having all the headaches and all at once. But what about the silver lining? Maybe PolloLocoHomestead is right about relocating the kitchen if you’re going to have to re-plumb any way. Is the “old” kitchen closer to the barn side of the house? If it is, maybe it would be less expensive to plumb back to that side. Your two healthy young friends might able to relocate your cabinets. Just hoping for the best. . .

  27. MousE says:

    oh NOOOOOOOooooooo….. listen if you need to take up a collection, as I can only imagine how costly this could be, I’m in! Oh Suzanne, I hope it gets fixed quickly. Is there no recourse at all? To regain some of the cost?


    Hugs to you and yours and hope it gets fixed fast and isn’t too expensive! I stand by my little offer to help.

  28. lavenderblue says:

    Does this mean there isn’t a basement under the house itself? Is putting pipe in the walls the way things are normally handled when there is no basement? Guess I’m just confused. What is the alternative? Just running the water pipes beneath the house? What about the gas pipes? Maybe I don’t hate my nasty leaky basement as much as I thought. We’ll be fixing the leaky water pipes down there tomorrow.

    • Suzanne McMinn says:

      No, there isn’t a basement, there is a crawl space.

      The previous owners had told me that the kitchen pipes froze sometimes in the winter and that they ran water when it got cold to stop them from freezing. I did run water, but it was 12 that night it froze. Also, the vent cover on the kitchen side of the house to the crawl space was off. I hadn’t even walked around to that side of the house until the day after it froze and I saw the vent cover off but I didn’t even realize then that that was why the pipe froze until the plumber yesterday saw it and said that it would have allowed so much cold air in there. (I don’t know why the vent cover was off the crawl space, if it had been taken off or what.) Like the heat tape on the well pump, that was just something I hadn’t lived here long enough to notice. I’ve only been in the house a little over 6 weeks and have been so busy with the holidays and moving hay and fencing that I hadn’t noticed the vent cover or the heat tape and had a chance to question all that. Moving into an old house on the brink of winter is not such a great timing combination! Re the home inspection, all I know is that here, at least the one I had, which was done by the president of the home inspectors association, specifically did not cover the plumbing beyond checking that faucets worked and such.

      Anyway–this might not have happened if the heat tape had been plugged in, and if the vent cover had been put back on the crawl space opening. Unfortunately, I wasn’t aware of either of those things. But, in the long run, I’m sure I’ll be better off with the plumbing rerouted. Once I get over the short-term calamity.

      • Suzanne McMinn says:

        P.S. The PayPal donate button has been back in the sidebar for some time. It’s toward the bottom of the sidebar. (Should I move it up? I guess I kinda hide it where it is.) I do accept donations to help support the expenses for the website, which are many. My philosophy when I stopped writing romance novels to write this website was to provide my writing for free to readers and try to make a living from advertising. Some people block advertising. (The easiest, free thing anyone can do to help me is not block advertising on my website.) I write and maintain this website as my full-time job. Sometimes this works better than other times. Because I struggle sometimes, I put the donate button back up, but I don’t promote it in posts and ask for donations. That would bring the haters out, LOL, and more seriously, there are far more deserving places to donate money, such as helping to provide medical aid to third-world children.

  29. CATRAY44 says:

    I agree with MousE…. put the pay pal donate button back up! Saying prayers in Michigan!

  30. Turtle Mom says:

    I feel so badly for you. I had a similar thing happen to me in my house, which was built in the 1960’s. The kitchen sink was clogged, so I took the plunger to it. The water in the sink went down, so I thought I would flush the pipe with hot water just to make sure the clog was gone. I ran the water for at least 5 minutes when I went to the basement to get something. I heard a strange noise in the laundry room. YIKES! Water was pouring like a giant waterfall down the basement wall from the kitchen above AND it was also pouring down the aluminum siding outside. The pipe in the wall was totally corroded and my plunging was it’s kiss of death. I pray that your issue turns out to be an easier fix than it sounds and that have running water again very soon!

  31. whaledancer says:

    To speak bluntly, that just sucks.

  32. Flowerpower says:

    oh dear.I can identify! Bought an old historic building uptown for my shop.Roof leaked in one spot. Spent almost 500 to get them to fix it but its not fixed. Came in one day just after Christmas open house.and half the ceiling had fallen in on all my new Christmas stuff.Lights hanging. Panic button pushed. Got that fixed….and in about another month or so the other side falls. I feel your pain!
    Sounds like new pipes need to be rerouted and cut off the old ones.
    Good luck! :happyflower:

  33. native daughter says:

    I just bought an older home(1940) knowing the pipes had frozen last winter. It was a great deal so I went for it. The pipes were in the ceiling, water came through kitchen and bath and also messed up a portion of the beautiful parquet floor. I had the whole house replumbed (1000 plus sf) with PEX, plus drywall for under $2900. Got a 20 year warranty with a reliable plumbing company.The floor will be a do it yourselfer. I still think I made the right choice buying the older home. You’ll get ur done. :sun:

  34. cincyjojo says:

    Where is Ernie when you need him? :o( Suzanne, is there a shutoff valve for the house? If so, turn it off and you can still use the water in the barn and jug some water to the house. If not, get them installed for the house and studio while they are there to make the other repairs. And, make sure you have shutoff valves on every sink and toilet, too. I sent my CITR deposit so feel free to use that money toward getting your plumbing fixed (every little bit helps in these situations – wish I could send more now). Let me know if you need new deposit money from me.

  35. KarenAnne says:

    Although homeowner’s insurance doesn’t generally cover plumbing repairs, a frozen pipe leaking may be another matter. It’s worth a call to your insurance agent to ask about this. While I doubt they’d cover rerunning the pipes, there might be some compensation for damage that might or might not be greater than your deductible.

    You’re lucky to have the people who sussed this problem out. They were not plumbers? General handypeople are scarce as hens’ teeth where I live.

  36. Glenda says:

    What a nightmare! I know there are always a few problems when you buy a new “old” place but this is extreme. We had to dig up and put in new laterals here.

    Surely when you find a repair outfit, they will know the best and cheapest way to go. I am wishing you the best with this and hope it is the last thing to go wrong with the new farm.

  37. KarenAnne says:

    p.s. Ref the paypal note, I noticed that your books are on Amazon kindle. I don’t have a kindle, but Amazon has a free “kindle for pc” program that runs on Windows. I read a lot of books on my laptop that way. You might put a link on your website in a prominent place to your kindle books. Here it is for other readers:

    Over the holidays I stumbled across a great new author when she had a 99 cent offer for a week on her first book.

  38. CATRAY44 says:

    Move that button up! I did not see it at all- going to go look for it right now…

  39. CATRAY44 says:

    ….ok, found it. I love PayPal- so easy and safe to use. May I suggest that you make a more colorful button for the “donate” box? I am sure I have seen it, but it kind of blends in with the side bar. And move it up a little bit. Sad that there are haters out there, but I think many of us on here would like to help, when we can, and when there are emergencies. I pay way more for my little nothing of a local newspaper and get a whole lot more enjoyment, help and smiles from CITR!

  40. CATRAY44 says:

    I should say, I am sure my eyes have passed over it, but I did NOT see the button….

  41. Darlene says:

    So sorry to hear about the pipes. This seems to happen to a lot of people. Years ago we left town in January to visit relatives. Our house did not have a basement so pipes were run in the attic. While we were gone the temp. was in the one digit and the water pipe over the kitchen had a leak. We returned to find the kitchen ceiling on the floor, pieces of ceiling in all the rooms, frozen water down the backside of the house and across over half of the back yard. What a surprise homecoming :dancingmonster:
    Thanks for the mentioning the button, I’ve never noticed it before.

  42. Miss Judy says:

    Been there, it’s happened to us! About the best I can do now is pray…praying for you.

  43. sweet william says:

    Hi Suzanne,
    I follow your blog from Nova Scotia, and after reading today’s posting, my plumber/water pump tech. hubby wanted to pass on his take on your unfortunate situation. His suggestion was to run new plastic pex piping (which is very cost effective material) within the kitchen cabinets. This is usually considered a very warm zone in an older home. Wish we lived closer so he could help you out… of luck!

  44. Sonia says:

    You are not alone Suzanne, I have no water either at the moment. I also have a well, and I guess it sort of died today. At least I got my hair washed before work tonight, LOL!

  45. jane says:

    I agree with bbkiehmeyer- a good inspection especially in an older home will do more than turn on the faucet and flush the toilet, something you can do yourself. If they did not do a good inspection they should be held accountable especially in an older home, in the country and in winter. I wonder why the previous owners failed to put the heat tape back on before they left and or to tell you about it- that is a critical issue too. again for all the reasons above there should have been a good home warranty too that would help to cover this. This is major to me. Holmes is always having to redo an inspectors work bec they did a poor job.

  46. LMo says:

    Just a thought about that donate button: I pay good money for lesser pleasures than Chickens in the Road. It is something I look forward to every day. I pour myself a fresh cup of coffee before I click over so I can spend several uninterrupted minutes reading and sipping. I appreciate that Chickens in the Road is well-written and visually pleasing, and I appreciate what Suzanne’s farm, family and community teach me about my own life.
    I donate for the same reason I donate to public radio–because I get something from this site I can’t get anywhere else and because I recognize that any art form requires financial support. (Blogging of this quality and of this regularity is an art form.)
    While I appreciate that Suzanne doesn’t like to ask, being compensated for good work is not the same as accepting charity. Think of it as an artist’s grant. Well worth it for the contribution to a well-rounded life.

  47. Wendy says:

    I look forward to this every day…before I read the local paper which I pay for…So, I’m giving you my chocolate money, which I can really do without. LOL–made me remember when we lost power for a week due to a storm and we had a well. My daughter went to her friends for the duration until we had water again, and we were lucky enough to have a water supply–a lake, and it was summer. Hang in there.

  48. pensiero says:

    I pay for a good book, why not for a good website (even better than a book – something new every day!) I sent you a few bucks to help!

  49. Cousin Sheryl says:

    Hey, Suzanne, don’t forget that you have some of that siding (extra leftover pieces). I don’t remember whether I saw it in the barn or the cellar but you have plenty to patch up what the fix-it guy(s) may have to do.

    Hang in there!

  50. twiggityNDgoats says:

    I totally agree with LMo. Well said! This site has so much to offer so why not help support it.

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