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yer pipes frozen yet?

the pipes are frozen in our bathroom... people in Portland might want to consider leaving their water taps on, and if they are frozen already, get a hair dryer or space heater under them or in the crawl spaces below them.
Are we having fun yet?
Thawing pipes 06.Jan.2004 15:54


A trick that thaws them REALLY fast (but, alas, requires better access to the pipes than is available in many situations) is to wrap them in rags and pour hot water (the hotter the better, use boiling hot water if possible) over them. Don't do this unless you can be reasonably sure you won't be getting a facefull of scalding water in the attempt.

One way NEVER to thaw pipes is to use a torch or "flameless torch" heat gun. Not only can you light your home on fire, if you thaw in the middle of a frozen section, the water won't have any way to expand as it boils inside the pipe except to violently explode in your face.

Bismark, ND (well, looks like it, anyhow)

Defrosting Pipes 06.Jan.2004 16:12

North Portlander

Woke up this morning to no water anywhere in the house despite having taken precautions. A call to the Portland Water Bureau resulted in a referral phone number: 828-4874. Call, and you'll get an office in the water bureau that can send two hearty fellows out to your house to check your water main connection at the street to make sure it has not frozen. If it IS frozen, they'll fix it. If not, they can answer some questions about how to warm the pipes up.

Most pipes freeze first where the main pipe comes up out of the ground and into your garage, particularly if they are exposed or near a drafty area like the crack below your garage door. Wrap a heating pad on "high" around the pipe, block the drafts near the pipe with plastic or blankets and if there's not much ice in the pipe, 1-2 hours will usually break it loose. Hair dryers also work well on the copper pipes coming out of your water heater and running along a cold outer wall. DON'T use an open flame or propane torch. While the entire pipe may feel cold, the section with the block will feel colder.

You should have all of the taps in the house running just enough to produce a stream about the circumference of a pencil. Dripping is not good enough. Kitchen, bathroom sink, tub, and don't forget the stationery tub unless you've turned the water off there. Water company says that cold water alone is OK and that "it will not freeze if it is running" but we prefer to add a little warm to make a lukewarm stream, having seen lots of winter creeks with frozen edges and ice on the top. Running warm water will cause your water heater to kick in more frequently, but hey, it's less expensive than repairing burst pipes.

And it goes without saying that you should also turn off any water to the outside of the house, detach hoses and empty them of water, and then cover the exposed faucet with one of those styrofoam things that Freddies seems to be completely out of, or an equivalent.

Halogen lamp works good 07.Jan.2004 19:22

In hot water

Yesterday couldn't get any hot water out of only the bathroom faucets. Put a halogen lamp in the crawl on a section of pipe I'd for some dumb reason missed when I insulated "all" the pipes down there. Thawed it out, but took a while. Still, the pipe didn't crack which was my concern. I'm leaving them drip a little just in case.

Mystery of the Missed Pipe 07.Jan.2004 20:44

North Portlander

In Hot Water,

I hear you, re. the missed portion of pipe in the insulation process. Last year we took the City low income winterization workshop and got the instructions and the goodies for covering windows, wrapping pipes, fixing outlets, etc. So we wrapped the hell out of the furnace and the pipes and ducts around it but never thought about insulating the pipe at the other end of the garage where the water came into the house. Seems like common sense, but there was nothing about doing that in the instructions. Sure enough, that's where the problem was.

Now we're sitting for another day of sub-freezing temperatures in a house with the water bill getting bigger by the day . . . as if it weren't scary enough already.