The Best Plumbers Know This Science All Too Well!
My forays into plumbing have been pretty limited. A bathroom rebuild, a kitchen refit and a few plumbed in appliances are about it! What’ll be keeping our plumbers exercised this winter will be the consequences of the good old frozen pipes. As we all probably know, it’s not the freezing spell that gives the biggest headache, it’s the thaw that that unleashes all the water over your best furniture and carpets. Where I live now, is a nicely insulated little semi that escaped any real problems last winter. This coming winter though… the weathermen seem to be predicting gloomy cold times.
In a previous lifetime, I was a Science teacher at one of the local secondary schools. I was a little infamous for bangs, smells and shocks! One of the more sedate little episodes of scientific vandalism was the frozen pipes simulation. At first when funds were plentiful, we had cast iron cylinders that would shatter with a hell of a bang. As things tightened up though, we were reduced to the slightly dodgier alternative of capped hard plastic bottles, which were nothing like the real thing. To get the cold temperatures was a fairly simple process of producing the “freezing mixture”. Good old salt and ice. With that simple combination, we could get temperatures down as low as around -14 C.
Once the bottle was popped in it was usually only about a 10 minute wait before the quiet was broken by the crack of cast iron or slightly less dramatic pop of plastic. This wasn’t one of my high drama lessons I have to admit! However even the disenchanted usually gave the bottles a cursory grunt of approval. If only we could have done the experiment with the freezing juice that these guys came up with!
It’s amazing the difference in freeze power that liquid nitrogen can bring to the demonstration. I think this would have entertained even the less enthusaistic amongst my pupils. When the bursts arrived in my previous family home. We were lucky enough to get Tomaz Samson when he was a beginner. He sorted it out pretty quick and what a successful emergency plumber he has become now!!