Ice, part 2

Posted on: May 15, 2010

Ice House Progression
by Deborah in the UP

OK, so the icehouse experiment wasn’t working as hoped for. Keeping things cool/cold from the first of October to the first of May wasn’t a problem, but that left four to five months when it was a problem. The purchased ice was getting to be a huge drain on the already tight budget.

Pete came up with an interesting option: there was a run down, cheap mobile home for sale that was on the grid, and not far out of the way. Having power would allow us to make our own ice on a regular basis… nice solid blocks that lasted longer than the store bought, whipped stuff. Having power also gave us other options, recharging batteries for one, maybe even a real phone. Though the mobile was not in the best of shape, it was still ‘livable’ if need be, and capable of TV reception… wow….

So we put an offer on the place, much lower than the asking price. The owner had died and his daughter in another state was anxious to be rid of it.. She took our low offer of $10k, and we closed the deal in December. The daughter’s husband said he winterized the place already, and we took his word for it after seeing antifreeze in the toilet. Mistake #1. Mistake #2 came with Pete not checking the fuse box and turning the power off for the rest of the winter.

In the Spring, our first visit to the place was met with total disaster. The water heater had not been drained, likewise none of the pipes. The anti-freeze in the toilet saved that, but that was the extent of the ‘winterizing’. When the warmer temperatures thawed the pipes, they had all burst and now leaked.. And were still leaking because the power being on, allowed the pump to work which meant the well was furnishing water to all those leaking pipes.

The carpets squished beneath our feet as we checked the damage. Pete shut the power off and walked out. The floors were all warped from the kitchen on back, which included most of the kitchen, both bedrooms, the bathroom and the hall, only the living room was spared. The damage was … unbelievable. I walked out too, locking the door behind me.

(Little did I know at the time, this entire purchase was not just for making ice, but part of a more nefarious plan on Pete’s part. The damage set his schedule way behind. How very blind I was to his motives.)

A week later, hoping all that water had drained away thru the floors, I went back to the mobile for an assessment of work to be done. First, I ripped out all the carpeting.. What a mess! Once I saw how badly buckled the floor was, I called my son the carpenter …….. And the insurance company. The damage was covered minus the deductible, and I set the son to cutting out the floors and replacing them. Some areas were difficult, like in the cramped bathroom, but he did what he could. While he did that, I tried cleaning the kitchen cupboards of mold, but it was futile. When he was done with the floors, I had him just rip the cupboards out. Next came the warped counters. It was amazing how removing all the dark wood made a difference.. Especially when he covered the walls with washable, white paneling and then light oak, open wood shelves. The room just brightened up. As he was doing all that, I sanitized the bathroom and laid in carpet tiles that would disguise the areas that were still warped. The same carpet tiles went down the hall and into the kitchen. The worse room was the bedroom where the water heater was… which of course had to be replaced, and all the plumbing, and that carpet. $2k later, the place was presentable and clean and no longer gave me a creepy feeling when I walked into it.

It was a costly lesson to be reminded to never, ever trust someone else’s word, always check it out for yourself.

Back to the plan: I bought a small upright freezer and kept it in the entry foyer, behind a locked door, but not in the house. That part of the plan worked VERY well and I was making solid ice blocks regularly. I would stop on my way home from work, take two blocks and replace with more bags of water, set in those same flower pots, to freeze. .. But that was after we had the well pump replaced, the constant running had burned out the motor.

But we had ice… very expensive ice.

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