Rather quickly we traced the leak to a pipe located in a crawl space under their kitchen floor. Accessing this space from the basement, I discovered it full of leaf debris. Apparently, one side was exposed to outside weather and leaves had blown in and accumulated there for quite a while. By scrapping out several buckets full, I gained enough space to worm my way to where a repair could be made. It took only a short time to cut out the broken section and sweat in a new piece of pipe. We also got some pipe insulation and wrapped up the pipes before we shut of the access hole to the basement. It seemed their house was only used in three seasons before this and other winterization projects would bloom as we carried out renovations.
On my way over, I brought along two incredibly large and gorgeous heads of cabbage. To celebrate our success at plumbing repair, we decided upon making a stuffed cabbage feast. We made a day of it, alternately preparing food, taking on cleaning projects, beating drums, singing and dancing. We invited some friends over to join our celebration. Several times through out the day, we caught a whiff of smoke. We never detected its wispy presence and figured it was likely remnant smell left over from using my torch to sweat water pipes. We were not concerned and continued to celebrate.
Just as soon as night fell a stiff breeze picked up. Shortly we detected signs of smoke. The local Fire Department responded quickly to our call for help. Upon arriving they opened up the crawl space from the outside and using long rakes removed clumps of leaf debris. As soon as they hit fresh air, the clusters burst into flame, but were quickly extinguished. Apparently, while using my torch, I caught some tufts aglow. Since they had not much air in their cramped space they smoldered all day. With the advent of a fresh breeze they began to ignite. Quickly, the fireman cleared all the leaf debris out and instructed us to install a barrier against their infiltration. Not only can they be ignited by an unwary repairman, but piles of leaves can spontaneously create enough heat to cause them to smolder. We thanked them for their quick response, went back to our feast and discussed plans for tomorrow’s project sealing off the crawl space.