Doug “Maintenance Man” Smith

It’s a little known fact that “Maintenance Man” was my fathers nick name. Some people claim he got this for the regular twenty thousand mile oil change but I know the truth.

In about 1979 – 1980 we lived in a house that had a bathroom added on where it had once been a porch. Every winter the pipes would freeze out there because they went out of the basement and into the area that was the porch. This was enclosed from the outside by some plywood, concrete blocks and not a whole lot more. My father would wake up in the middle of the night during January to the sound of an ice plug in the water line hitting the corner in those pipes. He would then run to the basement and get the torch out to heat that area of copper pipe and melt the plug down before things got worse and a pipe burst.
Sometimes to keep the plug from forming he would just go in that bathroom and run the water every hour or so. Unfortunately this was before global warming so we had to deal with temperatures below zero on a regular basis. Some people think they would have just put some heat tape on that pipe or maybe even insulated the area but since we only lived there for about two years it was more cost effective to keep the torch on hand or just run the water every now and then.
As a side note, my mother told me the payments on that house were about $40 a month. I am writing this at about three AM since I just made the rounds of the house to run water through all the pipes. It’s a family tradition.

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