Baby it’s cold outside. Surviving the cold snap in a tiny home

Last night we knew it was getting cold outside. Our windows were frosted over and our home wasn’t holding the heat from the fireplace as much as it normally does.

We’ve become very efficient at starting fires. When I say we, I mean me. Ryan’s skills have vastly improved but I can start a fire out of almost anything these days. I don’t rely as heavily on kindling and dry logs as I used to. I shouldn’t be surprised. Starting multiple fires each day, every winter, for two seasons, has its perks. I am the fire master.

Last night, we warmed the house as much as we could before we went to sleep. The thermometer, which is set on the main level, read 36 degrees Celsius when we went to sleep. Heat rises beyond that, and into our loft. Without a second thermometer we have no way of knowing how hot it actually gets in our sleeping area. Along the foot of the bed we rolled a flannel sheet, a faux tiger blanket, my summer blanket, and a duvet. The bedding was stacked to the ceiling. I fell asleep half covered with the flannel sheet.

When I woke up this morning, I was cuddled under a sea of blankets. I had a cold nose and a warm body. Ryan started a fire and consulted the thermometer. It was 10 degrees Celsius.

The outside temperature dropped to -32 degrees Celsius with the wind chill.

Our grey cat, Battlecat, scratched to get outside. The sliding window that we normally open to let him outside was frozen shut. I opened the front door and placed him on the step. Then we waited. 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1… “hoooeeeewwwlllllll” He  hadn’t moved off the step. He wanted back inside. Today is  the coldest day he has experienced this winter.

I closed myself into our chilly bathroom. I sat down on the composting toilet. Once I finished my morning pee I chased the urine down the pipe with a pot of boiling water. Last year our urine pipe froze solid in January. I know better than to let that happen this year.

Ryan informed me that the tap yielded a small amount of water and was now running dry. Our water line must be frozen. We have tickets for Hawksley Workman tonight and that is the only plan written in stone. Everything else will have to wait. Getting our water running again is priority.

When I pulled apart the bench seat to check our water hose, I found that the hose had gone stiff. We know to avoid jarring or even gently moving pipes and hoses when it is this cold. Last year our urine pipe snapped clean in half when I tried to adjust it. Part of the dashboard in Ryan’s car also snapped off that chilly day. I now know the true meaning of “cold snap”: Don’t touch things when it’s this cold unless absolutely necessary or you will have a new set of shattered problems on your hands. I warmed the indoor water feed with my blow dryer and it quickly softened. I’m confident the plastic was cold but the water was not frozen. Ryan headed outside to explore our enclosed water tank. He reported back that there was no sign of freezing in the tank.  The flex hose has a few points that may not have come in contact with the electric heat tape and a small section ice is probably blocking our water flow. This should be an easy fix.

We are the proud owners of a fantastic little space heater. The “Mr Heater Little Buddy” heater is a propane powered radiant heat source that is portable. We will close it in with our water tank structure and raise the heat of the pipes. Unfortunately, the heater is not here. We lent it to my brother to thaw the gas line on his truck a few days ago. I guess we are driving into the city today.

Now I’m sipping my tea and portioning out my oatmeal. It is another day in the life. We used to panic about these things but now we know to go with the flow. Call us crazy, but we wouldn’t change it for the world.

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