It’s been cold around here lately. If you live in the midwest, you know which cold I’m talking about. The temperatures have been in the single digits for days, and my normally cold but usable downstairs bathroom became cold and unusable when a PVC waste pipe froze solid.
I noticed the problem when the toilet didn’t flush, plunging didn’t help, and the water level began creeping to the rim of the bowl. Always a scary moment, but I kept my wits about me and thought quickly: the rubbermaid trash can! I scooped uriney water out of the toilet and bailed it into the bathtub. Go Clare!
Unfortunately the bathtub drain was also blocked with ice, which left me with both a toilet and a bathtub full of diluted urine-water. Curses! Inevitably, a cat fell into the pee-filled bathtub.
My father-in-law brought over a propane heater and set it up in the crawlspace. It burned all evening but nothing melted. First round to the pipe.
Round two: the next day, I put on 5 layers of clothes and went down into the crawlspace to take the fight to the pipe. I found a foot-long icicle of frozen toilet water dripping from the pipe. Nice. I chipped away most of the peecicle and set up the propane heater, then stripped the insulation off the pipes and piled it up around the edges of the crawlspace to make the space more airtight and trap the heat.
Two hours later, the bathtub and toilet had both drained. I spent an hour boiling big pots of water on the stove and pouring them down the drain to make sure it was clear. Inevitably, I spilled boiling water on my hand.
So I sustained losses of a parboiled hand and a smelly cat, but I persevered. Pipes are clear and water is flowing. Victory!