Let’s Get One Thing Straight About Freezing Pipes.

One day I was winterizing a system in Laurelhurst. A young girl and her grandfather watched me as I was connecting my air hose to a double check. “Whatchya doin?” I love kids. They’re always with the “Whatchya doin?” followed by the never ending “Why?”

“I’m going to hook up air to blow out all the water through the sprinkler heads so the pipes don’t freeze” I say.


And before I could respond, Grandpa misleads the small child with ” So in the spring when the weather warms up the thaw won’t cause the pipes to burst.”

It’s not hard to see why in the old days folks thought the Earth was flat. It’s pretty easy to see how they could’ve thought the sun revolved around it too. I mean take a walk outside- the world looks pretty flat as far as you can see, right? And that sun moves across the sky every day reliably. If no one ever told you different you’d think that too. Most of us are busy thinking about far more important things.

I pride myself as being the kind of person that doesn’t correct an elder in front of a child, or get myself into a shouting match with a senior. Here’s what I didn’t tell Gramps that day: The water inside the pipe freezes when it gets cold enough to freeze. Water expands when it freezes. The expanding solid pushes against the walls of the pipe causing it to split and crack. Solid is the key word here. The pipe is now broken, but water is not squirting everywhere.


Because the water is still a solid. It doesn’t become liquid again until things warm up. Once it’s liquid it’s free to squirt all over the place. You see now that the thawing did not cause the pipe to break? It just happens that thawing is the only thing that lets you know that a freeze break occurred a while back.

There, I’ve gotten that off my chest. I no longer have to live with that moment eating at me, not being able to point out the truth to that youngster. It’s been a few years now. There’s no telling what amount of damage Grandpa has wrought since. Here’s hoping she sees my blog someday.



  1. John Ramberg

    You didn’t sugar coat it.

  2. Theron

    There’s an analogy dying to emerge (like ice water leaking from a broken pipe) from this story.
    Lesseee … how about:
    “Just because your momma lies down to give birth doesn’t mean that naps made her pregnant.”
    I dunno – needs work.

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