Frozen Pipes?

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & ' started by SRThd, Jan 22, 2013.

  1. SRThd

    SRThd New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    Michigan
    Hi All. I'm new here and found this forum looking for some help with an issue. We've had some real cold weather the past couple of days and yesterday morning I woke up and have no hot water in my upstairs bathroom. Shower and sink. Both have cold water, but no hot. All of the other water sources are flowing fine. This same thing happened last year on the coldest day of the year for one or two days. I don't think I had any water that time though. This year I just have no hot water. I feel like it anything would freeze it would be the cold lines if any and all of the pipes feel warm under the crawlspace where they go up towards that bathroom. There's no leaking water. No damage last year either. That bathroom has a register in it, but stays real cold. You can feel the draft coming right from where the tub wall is against our outside wall, but I still have a hard time believing it could freeze. Thanks for any help and advice.
  2. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    15,053
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    Hot water lines will freeze first.
    I would open up cabinet doors if they are against a wall, and maybe put more heat in the room.
  3. SRThd

    SRThd New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    Michigan
    That would make sense. The pipes froze up completely now. I'm trying to heat it up because just leaving everything open wouldn't do the trick. I'm not sure what I can do because the plumbing is all buried behind the walls in that room. Just leaving the doors open is like having an open window on that floor of the house. I was considering putting in a heated tile floor just to warm it up, but I think the pipes are freezing too deep into the walls for that to have an impact. It's so cold, the drain froze and I have frozen water in the tub. Any ideas to combat it in the future? I was thinking pipe wraps but I would have to get in the walls or maybe some spray in insulation.
  4. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,058
    Location:
    New England
    In Michigan, it's probably not a great idea to design a house with pipes on exterior walls! Depending on how the pipes in the wall are run, hopefully, they are closer to the room than the exterior wall. If your insulation in the walls isn't great, or there's much of any air movement in the walls, things will freeze. The real fun part starts when it thaws, since water expands when it freezes, you may end up with cracked pipe or fittings. BTW, Terry meant keep the doors to the vanity open if that wasn't clear, on those cold nights. WHat might help is a hot water recirculation system that uses your cold line as a return (a common situation when this is retrofit and a dedicated return line isn't possible or feasible). In this case, you want the cold line to have movement and some warmth. The reason heated water can freeze faster when stagnant in a pipe is that the act of heating it drives out any dissolved gasses, and water will freeze faster than water with gasses dissolved in it. If you use a setback thermostat, you might want to reconsider when it is going to be really cold out.
  5. SRThd

    SRThd New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    Michigan
    Gotcha. Thanks! Yeah, there has to be next to no insulation on that exterior wall. Winter mornings you get a blast of cold by just opening the shower curtain as the tub's up against that outside wall. We've had wind chills in the -20s the past couple days so it's pretty severe cold right now. I just want to take any steps I can to keep these from freezing when I'm away from home and can't do anything about it. I did some digging and found my city offers an energy assesment for 100 bucks that comes with a bunch of green freebies totalling over 100 retail and they could give me some advice on my best next steps. Cross your fingers for me on the burst pipes. I'm hoping it didn't freeze hard enough to do any damage.
  6. jadziedzic

    jadziedzic Member

    Messages:
    90
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    Is there any exposed sheetrock above the tub on that exterior wall? If so, cutting a small opening for a quick visual inspection might be a good idea to see if you have any insulation at all. If there is no insulation and you're somewhat handy you could probably cut a series of access holes across the entire wall and blow loose insulation into the wall cavity. If you buy the insulation from a home improvement store they'll typically loan the insulation "blower" to you at no charge. It might get pretty dusty during the installation, but your alternatives - frozen pipes that crack and leak when they thaw - could get real expensive. If you're not the handy type call a local insulation contractor.
  7. SRThd

    SRThd New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    Michigan
    Thanks for your help, guys. I opened what I could and had a space heater and a buddy heater cooking in the room. The cold came back but the hot held out. It came back yesterday and is flowing good. Keeping it trickling now to make sure it doesn't happen again and most important of all NO LEAKS!!!
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