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Frozen Water Pipes - Wat Do?

Author
Katrina Oniseki
Oniseki-Raata Internal Watch
Ishuk-Raata Enforcement Directive
#1 - 2014-01-07 12:47:45 UTC  |  Edited by: Katrina Oniseki
Update Post Jan 7th 22:56

So, I live in the southern U.S., and we rarely get a temp below 32F. Tonight it went down to 6F, which is very out of the ordinary. Most of my friends and I know about the frozen pipes thing, but none of us have experience with something like that happening overnight.

I live in a P.O.S. trailer, and the crawlspace insulation has long since been torn up by wild animals since it was built in the 70s. It's also fed by a well pump. I've got no water pressure this morning, so I'm figuring the pipes are frozen.

What do I do? What can I do? How much will possible repairs cost me, and what is likely?

Katrina Oniseki

Slade Trillgon
Brutor Force Federated
#2 - 2014-01-07 13:24:10 UTC  |  Edited by: Slade Trillgon
At this point, wait and pray Ugh

In the future, not that this will happen again soon, get some pipe insulation from the local hardware store and wrap your pipes just before a predicted freeze like this and then leave your faucets open to a slow to moderate drip to keep the water flowing so it is less likely to freeze.

As for repair costs if the pipes actually bust, I have no idea. It is very possible that they are fine and when it warms up the will thaw out. But you will not now until things melt up and you get the water flowing. If all you find is some general leaking around joints you can re-solder fairly easily if you have soldered before. If not watch some youtube videos.
Commissar Kate
NulzSec
#3 - 2014-01-07 13:34:01 UTC
Slade Trillgon wrote:
It this point, wait and pray Ugh

In the future, not that this will happen again soon, get some pipe insulation from the local hardware store and wrap your pipes just before a predicted freeze like this and then leave your faucets open to a slow to moderate drip to keep the water flowing so it is less likely to freeze.


Adding a heat tape, heat cable or whatever its called where the pipe comes out of the ground to the main water supply will help a great deal as well.

As for now I would just wait for it to unthaw and hope nothing leaks or cracks.
Adunh Slavy
#4 - 2014-01-07 13:50:54 UTC
Chances are the freeze is in an exposed part of pipe that is outside and close to the ground and is a valve.

Get a lamp, and take the lap shade off. Get a beer can or other can that, with one end cut off, be large enough to cover the exposed light bulb such that the sides of the can do not touch the bulb. The top of the can will sit on the top of the light bulb.

Place the can over the light bulb. Then, use aluminum foil to cover the open bottom of the can.

The goal here is to create a pocket of air around the light bulb, inside the can.

Now place this thing next to the pipe, such that the can touches the pipe but the light bulb is not touching the can.

Now turn on the light and wait.

This should give enough heat to melt the ice inside the pipe, in a small area, with out cracking the pipe.

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Slade Trillgon
Brutor Force Federated
#5 - 2014-01-07 13:52:45 UTC  |  Edited by: Slade Trillgon
Commissar Kate wrote:
Slade Trillgon wrote:
It this point, wait and pray Ugh

In the future, not that this will happen again soon, get some pipe insulation from the local hardware store and wrap your pipes just before a predicted freeze like this and then leave your faucets open to a slow to moderate drip to keep the water flowing so it is less likely to freeze.


Adding a heat tape, heat cable or whatever its called where the pipe comes out of the ground to the main water supply will help a great deal as well.

As for now I would just wait for it to unthaw and hope nothing leaks or cracks.


I would completely agree, but that is more of a solution for those that deal with freezing temperatures for much of their year. The OP lives in an old trailer in the south. Although your suggestion is completely valid and not too terribly hard or expensive, it is probably excessive for this location.

For the OP's reference - Heat Tape
Slade Trillgon
Brutor Force Federated
#6 - 2014-01-07 13:57:41 UTC  |  Edited by: Slade Trillgon
Adunh Slavy wrote:
Chances are the freeze is in an exposed part of pipe that is outside and close to the ground and is a valve.

Get a lamp, and take the lap shade off. Get a beer can or other can that, with one end cut off, be large enough to cover the exposed light bulb such that the sides of the can do not touch the bulb. The top of the can will sit on the top of the light bulb.

Place the can over the light bulb. Then, use aluminum foil to cover the open bottom of the can.

The goal here is to create a pocket of air around the light bulb, inside the can.

Now place this thing next to the pipe, such that the can touches the pipe but the light bulb is not touching the can.

Now turn on the light and wait.

This should give enough heat to melt the ice inside the pipe, in a small area, with out cracking the pipe.


Chances are, since he is living in a trailer most of the pipe is 'exposed' to the elements and the freeze area is probably not in a single spot. But still a valid fix if you can assume where the frozen spot is.


EDIT: Again, the heat tape mentioned above can help decrease the defrost time of a long frozen pipe, but I would try to find heat tape with a heat regulator, if that is even available.

EDIT 2:

To all that read this thread it is very important, if you are occupying housing where you have a direct line from your local water main, to know where your main line exits the local main and have the proper tooling used to shut this line off. This becomes important when the break in you line occurs between the local main and the entry point into your housing. If the the line bursts at a point after the water's entry into the premises, you just need to shut off the line that feeds the burst pipe or the main entry point into the housing. If the leak occurs at a point in the line before it enters into your housing you want to be able to shut the main off so you do not flood your yard/property.
Random McNally
Stay Frosty.
A Band Apart.
#7 - 2014-01-07 16:20:53 UTC
Commissar Kate wrote:
Slade Trillgon wrote:
It this point, wait and pray Ugh

In the future, not that this will happen again soon, get some pipe insulation from the local hardware store and wrap your pipes just before a predicted freeze like this and then leave your faucets open to a slow to moderate drip to keep the water flowing so it is less likely to freeze.


Adding a heat tape, heat cable or whatever its called where the pipe comes out of the ground to the main water supply will help a great deal as well.

As for now I would just wait for it to unthaw and hope nothing leaks or cracks.

Pretty much this.

There are cheaper versions of Heat tape out there. May take a little shopping. Main thing is to open the faucets a little. When water freezes, it expands and will burst pipes. When it thaws, it contracts and can also cause serious damage. If this cold snap lasts for only a short period of time, then you should be good to go soon, but open the faucets up just a little.

And if you can find heat tape, use it.

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Mashie Saldana
I'm Sorry Shoot What?
WE FORM V0LTA
#8 - 2014-01-07 17:31:10 UTC
If you are completely unprepared next time you get a massive coldspell a quick fix if the pipes aren't frozen yet is to leave the tap slightly open so you keep the water flowing in the pipe.
Lajos Perseus
Black Wolf Syndicate
#9 - 2014-01-07 19:40:18 UTC
Damn you global warming....damn you!
Leju
Doomheim
#10 - 2014-01-07 20:58:39 UTC
Wish it was that warm here :(
Katrina Oniseki
Oniseki-Raata Internal Watch
Ishuk-Raata Enforcement Directive
#11 - 2014-01-07 22:56:41 UTC
Update:

I called my roommate from work and had him put one of the household radiators (the free standing ones with an electric plug) in the "well house". The well house is pretty much a dog-house sized structure that covers the well and pump assembly. After about 3-4 hours of having the radiator heat up the small structure, water apparently started flowing again.

In an ironic twist of fate, the crawlspace under the trailer is actually fairly warm because of the poor insulation. Heat from the inside of the house leaks down into the crawlspace and has kept that entire area from freezing. It's a huge heating inefficiency, but it saved all that exposed piping down there from also freezing.

Right now, we're keeping an ear/eye out for any sounds or signs of a leak, whether it's major or not. Despite the loud clatter I heard this morning, I haven't been able to figure out what it was. My initial thought once we didn't find any leaks was that something with the water heater broke, but we still have hot running water too.

Calling a plumber was pretty much a non-option, as every plumber across the country is getting flooded (pun intended) with calls about frozen/burst pipes. It's a lucrative time for that profession, for sure.

On the topic of insulation, is there any reason I wouldn't want to leave insulation on the pipes year-round? Could I wrap the well/pump in insulation and leave it like that? I'm in a rental, so I'm not keen on redoing all the insulation under the house at my expense.

What about my septic-tank and drainage systems? Should I be worried about those lines freezing and backing up?

Katrina Oniseki

Lajos Perseus
Black Wolf Syndicate
#12 - 2014-01-07 23:15:24 UTC
Katrina Oniseki wrote:
Update:

I called my roommate from work and had him put one of the household radiators (the free standing ones with an electric plug) in the "well house". The well house is pretty much a dog-house sized structure that covers the well and pump assembly. After about 3-4 hours of having the radiator heat up the small structure, water apparently started flowing again.

In an ironic twist of fate, the crawlspace under the trailer is actually fairly warm because of the poor insulation. Heat from the inside of the house leaks down into the crawlspace and has kept that entire area from freezing. It's a huge heating inefficiency, but it saved all that exposed piping down there from also freezing.

Right now, we're keeping an ear/eye out for any sounds or signs of a leak, whether it's major or not. Despite the loud clatter I heard this morning, I haven't been able to figure out what it was. My initial thought once we didn't find any leaks was that something with the water heater broke, but we still have hot running water too.

Calling a plumber was pretty much a non-option, as every plumber across the country is getting flooded (pun intended) with calls about frozen/burst pipes. It's a lucrative time for that profession, for sure.

On the topic of insulation, is there any reason I wouldn't want to leave insulation on the pipes year-round? Could I wrap the well/pump in insulation and leave it like that? I'm in a rental, so I'm not keen on redoing all the insulation under the house at my expense.

What about my septic-tank and drainage systems? Should I be worried about those lines freezing and backing up?


Sounds like it would be easier to move
Katrina Oniseki
Oniseki-Raata Internal Watch
Ishuk-Raata Enforcement Directive
#13 - 2014-01-07 23:32:38 UTC
Lajos Perseus wrote:

Sounds like it would be easier to move


Can't do a moving op right now. My corp is at war.

Katrina Oniseki

Lajos Perseus
Black Wolf Syndicate
#14 - 2014-01-07 23:41:17 UTC
Katrina Oniseki wrote:
Lajos Perseus wrote:

Sounds like it would be easier to move


Can't do a moving op right now. My corp is at war.


Lol nice! Maybe som corp mates will brng you warm water?
Eranicus II
Aliastra
Gallente Federation
#15 - 2014-01-07 23:41:57 UTC
Katrina Oniseki wrote:
Update Post Jan 7th 22:56

So, I live in the southern U.S., and we rarely get a temp below 32F. Tonight it went down to 6F, which is very out of the ordinary. Most of my friends and I know about the frozen pipes thing, but none of us have experience with something like that happening overnight.

I live in a P.O.S. trailer, and the crawlspace insulation has long since been torn up by wild animals since it was built in the 70s. It's also fed by a well pump. I've got no water pressure this morning, so I'm figuring the pipes are frozen.

What do I do? What can I do? How much will possible repairs cost me, and what is likely?


I live in Colorado, the recomended step to follow here is to let your faucets drip (slow drip is fine) all night, this keeps the water flow and stops freezing according to Denver water and the Denver Fire Dep.

If you decide to close your water valve then you better pray it doesnt freeze whats left on your lines since it wont work unless you air blast the lines empty on your home.

We do the water drip at my house every time it dips below 40 degrees F. and have never had any issues, knock on wood.

Yeah we had 8 dregrees F. days lately or lower and not an issue has come up.
silens vesica
Corsair Cartel
#16 - 2014-01-08 00:13:51 UTC
Katrina Oniseki wrote:
Update:

I called my roommate from work and had him put one of the household radiators (the free standing ones with an electric plug) in the "well house". The well house is pretty much a dog-house sized structure that covers the well and pump assembly. After about 3-4 hours of having the radiator heat up the small structure, water apparently started flowing again.
Good fix. Next time, do this sooner.

Since the crawlspace is relatively warm, no need to monkey there at this time.
If it weren't warm in the crawlspace, I'd suggest putting a kerosene heater or salmander outside the skirting, aimed inwards via a small removed section of the skirting - Making DAMN sure you've got a couple windows cracked open in the trailer - The warmer floor will offset any heat loss, and you shouldn't suffocate that way. Do NOT put the salamander *under* the trailer unless you're fond of house fires!

Tell someone you love them today, because life is short. But scream it at them in Esperanto, because life is also terrifying and confusing.

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Katrina Oniseki
Oniseki-Raata Internal Watch
Ishuk-Raata Enforcement Directive
#17 - 2014-01-08 00:57:12 UTC
silens vesica wrote:
Katrina Oniseki wrote:
Update:

I called my roommate from work and had him put one of the household radiators (the free standing ones with an electric plug) in the "well house". The well house is pretty much a dog-house sized structure that covers the well and pump assembly. After about 3-4 hours of having the radiator heat up the small structure, water apparently started flowing again.
Good fix. Next time, do this sooner.

Since the crawlspace is relatively warm, no need to monkey there at this time.
If it weren't warm in the crawlspace, I'd suggest putting a kerosene heater or salmander outside the skirting, aimed inwards via a small removed section of the skirting - Making DAMN sure you've got a couple windows cracked open in the trailer - The warmer floor will offset any heat loss, and you shouldn't suffocate that way. Do NOT put the salamander *under* the trailer unless you're fond of house fires!


I had to look up what a "salamander" was. I didn't even know those things existed, though it seems obvious now. They sound like the perfect way to thaw the pipes if in the future those under the house freeze too.

How warm/hot would they make the crawlspace? How hot do they get?

Katrina Oniseki

silens vesica
Corsair Cartel
#18 - 2014-01-08 01:12:55 UTC  |  Edited by: silens vesica
We used to use two moderate-sized units to heat an entire 12000-sq ft garage back when I made a living as a mechanic. In Maryland winters (which were actually colder than they are now).
Get a small unit. In fact, borrow or rent, if you can - you won't need it often.

Ideally, you want the salamander set up *before* the pipes freeze - Watch your weather reports closely. Blink

Tell someone you love them today, because life is short. But scream it at them in Esperanto, because life is also terrifying and confusing.

Didn't vote? Then you voted for NulBloc

silens vesica
Corsair Cartel
#19 - 2014-01-08 01:18:59 UTC  |  Edited by: silens vesica
Something like this would do for your needs pretty effectively.

Edit:
Actually, here's a cheaper source.
/Edit

You wouldn't even need to run it continually - Just blip it ever few hours, enough to keep the space @ ~40f degrees or so.

Tell someone you love them today, because life is short. But scream it at them in Esperanto, because life is also terrifying and confusing.

Didn't vote? Then you voted for NulBloc

Katrina Oniseki
Oniseki-Raata Internal Watch
Ishuk-Raata Enforcement Directive
#20 - 2014-01-08 01:59:58 UTC
I'll head to a Home Improvement store sometime this week and ask what sorts of rental prices they go for. They seem like something useful to keep on hand.

They aren't indoor safe, are they? Carbon Monoxide hazard?

Katrina Oniseki

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