Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Update from the Lake: Too Much Snow

I unexpectedly went to our lake house recently, primarily because we were worried that the huge amount of snow we'd heard about would cause problems. The snow is pretty, I'll admit, but I arrived to find the snow piled two-feet deep, and it's probably deeper by now. One problem the snow can cause is roof-top cornice development and sliding of massive snow and ice off the roof, which could damage valves on one heating-oil tank, and has in the past damaged our water-shut off valve. Snow could also cave in the roof of a small camper we have, an old camper which has been sitting idle for a few years, but which we lived in for more weeks than I care to remember when we moved to the lake.
The day I arrived, I was fortunate enough to get through to someone we use to plow our driveway when needed. When the driveway isn't plowed, the berm from the highway department snow plow prevents us from getting into the driveway, there is no place to park, and we can't get to the house. They came, plowed the driveway, and left. I was lucky they weren't too busy to come on short notice, and throughout the day when I called, the line was busy. When I finally got through, their phone rang for the first time in two days because the power had been out for 48 hours.

Because the power had been off, I had to deal with a house that was cooling off due to lack of heat: the temperature had reached 43°F. I turned on our front-room oil stove, which doesn't require electricity, then tromped back in the dark to the furnace, which is located in a small closet-like recess on the outside of the house. I pushed the two reset buttons I could see: nothing, nada, no heat. By the time I went to bed, the oil stove was heating the house at the rate of 3°F per hour. It was 61°F in the morning when I got up - not shabby, really, and warm enough to prevent pipes from freezing.

In the morning after coffee, I tried the furnace reset buttons again, found out the location of a third reset button from a maintenance guy, and also found out that if the furnace is running when the power shuts off (or flickers off and on, I presume), it will shut down and not come back on without a manual reset.
I couldn't stay, though, just to make sure the the power stayed on, or to light the front oil stove periodically, or to hit the reset buttons when needed. So I've had the place winterized, which means we won't be paying much for heating this winter, and the place won't be very visitor-friendly until we turn the water back on in spring or early summer. That's what happens when you move, I guess...
In other news, I discovered we have a slightly larger than usual view of the lake (usual being very tiny). That's because an entire house went missing some time in the last few months. (It's not really missing, just taken down.) This view is from where the now-missing house used to be. A partial view of the lake, especially if it's through trees, is called a peekaboo. The size of the peek varies from a couple spots to something a bit more sizeable. Ours new view is visible from one side of the backyard.


Amanda@Lady Scientist said...

The snow is pretty, but I'm guessing the novelty wears off pretty quick. I'm glad that you got the place winterized. Do you still have to worry about roof-top cornice development, though?

Silver Fox said...

We're not really worried about that, although we might check the place in a month or two. I covered the vulnerable oil-tank valve with an old folding table. In fact, you can kind of see it in the steps-and-snow pic: just a white or gray patch left of the steps. There are always the things one doesn't know about; hopefully they will all stay away!

And we do have friends and neighbors! They have helped us a lot and check on things (not to mention our neighborhood watch).