The Plumbing Calamity, Part 4,567,839


The plumbers were back! They fixed everything. Replumbed with the new pipes so that I won’t have burst pipes again even if they were to freeze, rerouting the plumbing so it’s not in the wall anymore.

And then.

They turned the well pump back on and discovered that the bladder tank had been damaged by freezing. (Because the heat tape was unplugged. Because I didn’t know there was heat tape on the tank or that I was supposed to plug it in. Or had ever heard of heat tape before. I have so much to learn and I was left no instructions and I’ve only been here six weeks.) He said, “Do you have a man on the place?” I said, “No, but I’m trying to learn to be like one. I only just got started.”

All this to say, I still have no water. The bladder tank kicks off because it’s damaged and has too much air or something. They’ll be back tomorrow with a new bladder tank. They helped me get water for the cows before they left by manually forcing the tank to run. (The creek is getting low. Hopefully it will rain again.)

If you missed the rest of my plumbing calamity (and how could you?), you can find the beginning of my calamity here and thank you for your help, whether in donations or support!! I’m hoping this can really be fixed tomorrow and I can bring Morgan home.

P.S. Checking with the homeowners insurance revealed this is not covered (in answer to your questions).


  1. BuckeyeGirl says:

    It’s getting better!!! It really IS!!! One more step along the way!!! We had that happen to ours too, not because of freezing, just age so it does happen. This is much better than water coming up through your floor!!! OK, enough exclamation points now. :snuggle:

  2. Taiyla says:

    Being without a pump really really sucks. Looking on the bright side, at least you know whatever’s the problem is and not crossing your fingers it’s not something else. Also I think you handle that plumber very civilly, because I might have told him off with that comment. Best of luck to you and Godspeed with your water!

  3. wildcat says:

    Well, I would never have known about the heat tape, either. How could you, if no one ever told you?

    You don’t need a man on the farm Suzanne, you’re going to be just fine. :hug:

  4. CATRAY44 says:

    ARGH! Is the bladder tank costly?

  5. bubbashome says:

    We’re hitting an expensive year also so I feel your pain. Our furnace/air conditioner is over 17 years and so is our bladder tank. The water heater is also getting there. We’re hoping to start replacing with better stuff and we’ll be set. It sucks that it happens but at least you’re done and it’s replaced. Just something that helps me is I mark on my calendar when to unplug the tape and when we should plug it back in. I know that doesn’t help if no one told you in the first place. We also had that happen our first winter here. No one told us and we didn’t know. Woke up and no water. It’s all a learning process!

  6. Rose H says:

    I agree totally with Wildcat.
    Wish I could fetch water for you to ease the load a little…Buckeyegirl IS right, it IS getting better!
    Rose H

  7. SarahGrace says:

    Hang in there! It’s almost fixed!

  8. Pirate96 says:

    Bless your heart! Just think of all the fun plumbing stuff you know now. Just be glad you are getting back to running water. Think of all those people that used the outhouse you like to take pictures of. They would be thinking of how complicated it has gotten. You are much more knowledgeable now then before real winter hits.

  9. bonita says:

    Suzanne, there is more than one type of heat tape you should know about. There is a heat tape designed for shallow roofs, porch roofs, gutters and downspouts. It is placed on/in these structures permanently. Then as a significant snow fall develops, one (i.e. you) turns the heat tape on. It gently melts snow and keeps gutters and downspouts clear and running (unless it’s below zero)! The advantage: one (i.e. you or hired help) does not have to go up on the roof to shovel off a heavy snow. A truly heavy snow can damage roof and attic and of course, look out below. Also it is an aid to stop ice damming in which snow falls, sun melts snow, but it’s so cold snow refreezes…ice builds up (dams) along roof edge and pushes its way under roofing materials. . . You get the ugly picture. I have mine on a separate circuit with an outside on/off switch. Because part of my porch roof and gutters face south, I can often have the freeze, melt, refreeze problem. I dunno how much heavy snow you get. . . even up here I don’t use mine every year, but I’m glad it’s there for emergencies. See sample at

  10. thistlewoodmanor says:

    ((Hugs)). Wish we were close enough to send my man over there. I know what you’re going through…..I ended up with my own farm when my (now ex)husband left me. I had planned to sell, but in the meantime it was up to me to keep everything going. It was really rough, but I survived and learned a lot. Never did sell, I met my current husband and I think he proposed just so he could live on my pretty little 8 acre farm. Well, maybe not. Hang in there, it will all get better!

  11. twiggityNDgoats says:

    I’m so happy that all this happened while we had mild January weather. It should be fixed just before the weather turns nasty. In a way I guess you were lucky it happened when it did and not when our winter finally kicked in with a foot of snow on the ground. I guess there is always a bright side even if it is kind of a dim bright side.

  12. Snapper119 says:

    We had a bladder tank repair two yeas ago, it wasn’t too costly.
    Did you ask him if he had a woman on his place? 😉
    Here’s hoping that tomorrow is a stellar, “no bad news” kind of day!

  13. Glenda says:

    Asking about a “man” on the place is a very typical country thing! I was asked that a few times when I worked the cattle alone with the vet. Back then DH was traveling and was gone very long hours. They might even have had ulterior motives for asking.

    The point is whether you have a man or not; every woman should know about everything!!! One never knows…..

    Will you still have to leave the water dripping during really cold weather? We do and I hate it.

  14. Blessings says:

    next time your asked ” do you have a man around” say “No! I have a shot gun though”..just case there just not flirting with you:)
    ~~peace & love & joy & blessings~~

  15. STracer says:

    I take it the bladder tank is out in the barn. Is there any chance someone has mentioned putting a couple of shut off valves in the line? Maybe one that goes to the house and one that goes to the line that supplies the animals. JUST IN CASE there is a need to shut off one side, but not everything? That would allow you to have water somewhere if there is another calamity. It would probably be easy to do while they are replacing the tank anyway.

  16. Flowerpower says:

    One thing about it. When its fixed it will be fixed the right way. Maybe the tank will not be so expensive. I sure hope not. You will know where every thing is next year! :happyflower:

  17. brookdale says:

    Wow, Suzanne! You certainly are learning things in a hurry! Hopefully all will be fixed tomorrow. Be sure and have them put in shut off valves, as others have mentioned.

    Here’s something else to think about…do you have a backup generator for when the power goes off? (“Yes, I do!” she hopefully says with a grin.)

    And…have fun with that gorgeous big red tractor!The superboys will love it!

  18. Leah's Mom says:

    I’m second Blessings on Her(?) comment:

    “next time your asked ” do you have a man around” say “No! I have a shot gun though”..just case there just not flirting with you:)”

  19. Janie says:

    When I lived in the country we had to have the bladder tank replaced but my brother-in-law did it so there was no labor charge. Just the cost of the tank. Years ago I was car shopping. At one dealership I wandered the lot for the longest time waiting for a salesman to approach me as I looked at cars. Every time a man and woman couple started looking at cars a salesman was right there for them. Not one approached me so I left. At the next dealership, the salesman was very helpful and once I decided on a car he asked if I wanted to wait and talk to my husband about it. I told him I was smart enough not to need one and left. I hate car shopping to this day!

  20. Old Geezer says:

    Fear not — “the man of the house” doesn’t get off that easy either. We don’t live on a farm, but we have a well, and a bladder tank and the whole nine yards. I generally do my own home maintenance, but I always do some research first so that I don’t come across the fool in the store. Ha! Fat chance!

    It is our lot (as “the man”) to be the dim-witted simpleton in these circumstances.

    Example: An internet search tells you that you need a franistrade. You go to the local Lowes or Home Depot and look for franistrades. You can’t find one. So (heaven forefend!) you ask for help. You will likely hear, either:

    1. Oh they haven’t used franistrades in years. You need a nockistrade. (Simpleton!)
    2. Don’t you know the codes? No franistrades in this state, pal. (Simpleton!)
    3. Left or right hand? American or French threads? Full wiffle, blind wiffle or no wiffle? I need these details. (Simpleton!)
    4. Hmm. Can you atomic weld? Franistrades need to be atomic welded. (Simpleton!)

    Somehow I’ve always gotten things to work (as in but not without a lot of subtle sneering from the blue color cognoscenti.

    As in the time I rewired the well pump wiring to counteract corrosion. After a month it failed. Finally I had the plumber come in to look. Problem was only a loose connection on one wire. I think the plumber dined out for a month or two on my failure to tighten a screw.

    I admire your pluck. Do learn as much as you can so as not to be taken for a ride. You will not get the “don’t you bother your pretty head, little lady” treatment once they know you are for real. But let them do the work in the end. Knowing plumbing technology is one thing. Measuring rigid pipe just right to fit exactly is entirely another.

    And that idea to have cutoff and outlet valves along the way is a great one. Ask them about doing it. As long as the pump works you should not have to dip in the creek.

  21. Camille says:

    Good Grief! Poor woman – bless your heart. You are one smart cookie – you’re strong – and you can do this! And by the way, that red tractor is fabulous and I know you’ll learn how to run that bad boy by this summer and dazzle us all in the end! Deep breath – it’s gonna be OK! You’ll see!

  22. Canner Joann says:

    Giving the guys a little credit…maybe he asked about having a man around because he’s a gentleman and wants to make sure you are taken care of. However…

    I bought a used car one time, and a few days after I got it, the check engine light came on. I took it back to the dealer and watched them unhook the battery, then put the cables back on, effectively resetting the computer. When they told me the problem was fixed, I looked at them and said, “Unhooking the battery doesn’t fix the problem, it just resets the computer. Maybe you could do more then put a band-aid on this.”

    They had the nerve to look at me straight in the eye and ask me, “How did you get so smart?”

    Needless to say, they had the car fixed properly, and I drove it for another 8 years.

  23. Linda Goble says:

    Sorry for what you are going through. I know we been having a hard times here too. First refrigerator died only 6 years old then husband ran over something and put a whole in his new tire on way to work and then our Durango transmission went, now looking for a new used truck. We had our three to go wrong. I pray you are done. Keep your chin up it will get better and make you a stronger woman. :sun: :sun: :sun: Sending lots of sun your way!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  24. bjo2298 says:

    Suzanne, I feel your pain at things going wrong. Life’s lessons are sometimes hard to get through. I made a small donation through Paypal and then realized I didn’t put my name on it. It’s from Bonnie from Iowa…..have been enjoying your blog for a few years and don’t want it to stop! Thanks for sharing your life with us!
    Bonnie from Iowa

  25. Murphala says:

    OK, right about now, I’d be in my girly bedroom, with either a large glass of red wine, or at least some sinful chocolate, curled up in a fetal position on my bed having a good, long cry. For about 10 minutes. It always helps and then I get up and go at it again. Indulge yourself!

    I once called Sears about re-siding my house, looking for info and estimates. When I left the message, I left my name (an obviously girl name). When their sales staff returned my call, the gentleman who called insisted upon speaking to my non-existent husband about the siding. I honestly couldn’t believe it. I hung up on him and looked elsewhere. Hang in there Suzanne. You can do it!!

  26. whaledancer says:

    I recently had to call a furnace repair company because after I had re-lit the pilot on our wall heater, it wouldn’t turn on. The guys came out, looked at it, and turned the knob from “pilot” to “on.” The good news: it wasn’t a major repair and “only” cost $70. The bad news: I felt like a complete idiot.

    But at least now I know how to turn the heater back on after I light the pilot. I hope.

  27. rurification says:

    Pex is your friend. We redid some of our pipes with pex, too. Lovely, bendy, pex.

    It’s almost over! Next year at this time it’ll be a funny story.

  28. maryfrantz says:

    saying a prayer for you. I am so glad we live here in the US it is so much better than most countries. We can at least have these problems to deal with. Good luck and I pray things start getting better for you. love your site. Mary

  29. Michelle B says:

    So sorry to hear about all the challenges, but just remember “whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!”, and you sure are going to be real strong :moo:

    Something that has saved me from the exact thing happening here is an electrical adapter with a thermostat. We have one for our electric tape, and we just keep the electric tape plugged in all year long. At a certain temperature, the electric tape turns on, and above that temperature it doesn’t. Sure has saved me many times, when I would have forgotten to plug it in. It’s been several years ago, but I believe we got it at the local feed store. I think now you can even buy the electric tape with the thermostat build in.


  30. Chic says:

    What a fiasco! At least everything is up and running now and you’ve got your water again. I missed your other post and I clicked on your link but it told me it wasn’t there and may have been moved or removed…something like that. Anyway…I’m glad all is well at Sassafras Farm again.

    • Suzanne McMinn says:

      I haven’t moved/removed any posts! I’ll check the links. okay–checked. It was a mistake in a link. Usually a “404 or Not Found” means there is a mistake in the link. Thanks for letting me know! I appreciate it. Fixed now.

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