Designing copper bathroom piping routes for winter- northern michigan cottage

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by chuck b, Feb 2, 2011.

  1. chuck b

    chuck b sea-bee

    Jan 19, 2011
    levering, michigan
    I am Copper plumbing small cottage supply lines (replacing galvanized under crawl space) that I recently purchased. Was utilized for summer use by former owner, but I want to use it for late fall and early spring when temps are still below freezing but not frigid.

    I wish to guard against frozen copper pipes, and am wondering the best way to route the pipes to reduce the freezing hazards. I am installing electric baseboard heaters and can keep the rooms warm inside.

    The water supply is from a (shared) well which will connect to a pressure tank, sediment filter, water softener and then the water heater and out. I don't have room for these items in the small bathroom, and will build out a "dog house" type weatherproof addition that I can also heat.

    Would I be wise to create channels or soffits (or what?) inside the bathroom and kitchen for that matter so as to place the pipes on the warm, wall side of the wall insulation that I will be installing instead of in the walls. vinyl sided outside? Also, how do I ensure against the water line freezing that comes out of the ground and to be run into the bathroom at a point of entry i have yet to determine?

    I don't see how I could keep the current arrangement of running the water lines under the (24" clearance) open unheated crawl space, or thru an unheated attic. Just thinking that interior walls or outside wall soffits or channels would be best but not sure.

    Please advise. Aprreciate your help guys!
  2. pipehacker

    pipehacker New Member

    Apr 7, 2008
    We have a seasonal cabin and I have played around with doing what you are doing but gave up on the idea. What you have to do is run the pipes through heated space. Runways with vents are good because they allow heated air to surround the pipe and allow access to make the repairs which will undoubtedly be necessary. Interior walls would be best but you need to take into consideration that sooner or later the power will go off and the pipes will freeze without some sort of backup arrangement. The underground line will need to be below the standard frost line (probably 5 or 6 feet) and even so it will probably sooner or later freeze also. What I have seen done with the line which connects to the house is to place it inside a 4 inch or so casing which is open to the heated air and wrap it in heat tape. Also, try and run the lines so that they drain downhill to a valve that you can open to drain everything when you are not there. You may also want to consider pex instead of copper as it may be more tolerant of freezeups and easier to repair or replace.

    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 20, 2011
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