Originally posted, February 15, 2017
It was 12:30 PM, February, 1st when we saw sunlight hit the helipad for the first time since early October. On the sixth, I noticed that it was 11:30 AM when it hit the helipad. By the seventh, the sun was shining on the helipad at 11:10 AM and by the ninth, the sunshine, as brief as it was, was not only covering the helipad in its entirety but had progressed onto the fourth dock and passed, to actually shine directly on the third dock and on that day, it also shone directly on the back wall of the lodge. Spring, it would seem, is fast approaching.
That said, yesterday — Wednesday the eighth — we awoke to -5°C and our creek water supply was frozen. I made a somewhat feeble attempt to thaw it but decided that before I waste too much time and energy with that, it might be wise to check the weather forecast. Maybe Mama nature would take care of this little inconvenience for me. The forecast for Thursday was a high of -1°C so I decided that since we have bottled water for cooking and drinking and a total of fourteen toilets, we could just wait a day or two for the weather to warm. We also decided that since the weatherman said this would be the last sunny day for a long, long time, we should take advantage of it and go for a hike up to our favourite bog and scope out a possible route over to “Glass Ball Beach”.
Well, as usual, the weatherman was wrong — I don’t know why I bother even looking at the forecast sometimes. “Weatherman/woman”, or as they prefer to be called, “Meteorologist”, is the only job I can think of where you could be absolutely wrong consistently, about everything and NOT get fired — EVER! Not only that but their job title is entirely misleading! I don’t want to know about no stinking meteors! Anyway, we did have a right nice hike.
Thursday morning, though, we awoke to -7°C so after lunch Wendi and I spent a few hours thawing the desalinated water line and then switched over from the creek water. We could have waited for the weather to turn but actually using toilets without flushing is somehow harder than just talking about it.
We sure had a fun time figuring out which lines were which. You’d think that they could label things when they install them, but no, not here. It’s a fairly complicated system with two water sources, but what really confused the issue was the heat tape on one of the lines that runs from the desalinated tank to the pressure tanks. There are two lines that make that run and only one had heat tape on it. My assumption — I know, I know a dangerous word — was that since they desalinate water only during the summer months when they’re open for business, the line with the heat tape on it would have to be the outlet line from the storage tank to the pressure tank — you know, the one that is needed in the winter.
Well for some strange reason, they had heat tape on a water line that is only used during the summer — that’s right, that is the line that pumps water from the desalinator into the storage tank.
Alas, when all was said and done, within a couple of hours of getting the water running in the lodge once more, the temperature rose to +4°C — of course! Maybe it was karma because rather than thawing the water the day before, we played hookey and went hiking.
So Monday being a holiday, I declared that I was taking a break for a day. Wendi asked, how do you take a break from doing nothing? “Ahem!”, I said. “How are you enjoying that running water?” Tuesday was Valentines Day and it just had that “holiday” feel to it, so I again, took a break for a day.
Wendi and I had a wonderful dinner date down in the lounge. Dinner was a rack-of-lamb with mashed potatoes and broccoli — served with a nice Merlot, of course. Afterward, we continued our “date night” with a few games of pool and a few drinks. Wednesday I got back to business and got some serious thumb twiddling done.
“Not so fast!”, said the water Gods. “You got work to do!”.
You’d think with daytime highs pushing ten degrees, that our water problems would be over. Not quite — Damn! Our “creek tank” is filled from a small creek that is really barely a trickle, even during periods of rain. When daytime temperatures reach highs of only minus two or so, it stops altogether and it takes only a couple of days of pumping constantly — to keep the line from freezing — before it is dried right up and gives forth nothing. So far, that has happened only once. The other day, however, something unexpected happened. I have been pumping from the creek sporadically, to save wear and tear on the pump. About every three or four days, I will run the pump for about a half day to refill the tank.
So the other day, after having just restored water from the freezing incident, we mysteriously ran out of water. When I investigated, I found the pressure tank was down to about twenty PSI and the submersible pump in the creek water tank was running non-stop. The fix was simple — a surprise, but simple — and the cause is still a mystery. To fix it, all I did was disconnect the outlet line where it comes out of the tank — this was actually a test to see if the pump was pumping. I asked Wendi to go turn the switch on, which she did and BEHOLD! — water gushed from the open line — that was the surprise. I had suspected a blown seal in the pump to be the issue. With this result, I was then thinking a clogged line — but how? — the water has to make it through two, foot valves and pumps before it enters the line between the tank pump and the lodge. Wendi turned off the pump again and I reconnected the line. We restarted the pump and watched the pressure in the pressure tank rise until the pump kicked off. Problem solved!
An hour or so later, sitting in my chair where I sit and watch the world go by, comfortable in my thoughts that I had yet again saved the day and foiled yet another attempt by the water Gods to deny us that so essential substance — that life-giving liquid — water, when along comes Wendi with that ever-so-familiar announcement that “We have no water”, again. Ugh!
Off I go, down to the basement to check the pressure tank — just as expected, no pressure. Out to the creek tank, I go. As I approach the tank, I can hear the submersible pump, I go into the tool shed and turn it off. At the tank, I step up onto the ladder to peer inside and much to my surprise, the tank is drained down to the lowest level that the pump can draw from. Houston, as they say, we have a problem! So now we have a case of disappearing water; an hour ago it was a case of water NOT appearing. Que pasa¿
Wendi, who had just followed me out to see what was going on, returns to the lodge to look for our missing water — an open tap, a running toilet, a large leak? I returned to the tool shed to turn the creek pump on and refill the tank. As soon as the level in the tank came up enough, water and pressure were restored to the lodge. Still… where did that tank of water go? Over the course of the afternoon, two more times, it drained and two more times, I had to refill the tank. Then, just as mysteriously as it began, the problem of the disappearing water, went away.
I can explain the loss of water pressure and resulting loss of water to the lodge as an airlock, but I cannot explain the loss of thousands of gallons of water in less than three hours. Not when one-third the amount can last four to five days. The only possibilities are 1) A siphon back to the creek pump — impossible, as the end of pipe is not submerged; 2) A severe leak in the tank — tank integrity verified; 3) a split line or a disconnect between the tank and the lodge — line integrity verified.
Thank God for rum!
The problem has not returned but we are a little concerned about our water supply now — it seems a little tenuous and we’re now feeling slightly vulnerable. Prior to all of this water trouble, we were feeling pretty secure in the knowledge that we had nearly two thousand gallons of desalinated water sitting in a tank for use when needed. During the freeze-up, we used some of that water supply but hadn’t checked the level after switching back to creek water. Now we have checked it and found that a disproportionate amount of it is gone. That means that where ever our water is disappearing to, it has to be after the point where it can draw from either tank and also, the water can disappear without being pumped.
Well, I guess it’s a good thing for all the hassles with the water, I’ve had little to do since my victory in the months-long battle of the boilers. Ha! I haven’t talked about that, have I? Maybe next time.
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Ciao for nao!
© Ron Morrison 2017