Freezing water pipes


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Old 02-14-16, 06:13 PM
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Freezing water pipes

Hey all you DIY masters- Maybe you all can help out with this one.

Literally every time the temperature seriously drops, I end up with the water line coming into my house freezing. At least, this is where I think its freezing. Pictures may help more- I'll add them for reference.

The pipes seem to be freezing underneath my front door entrance. It is the raised area behind the brick wall out front. My laundry room does get very cold- this year I left the heater vents wide open in there to add heat to prevent the freeze. However, last night, the filter on my furnace got too clogged and shut down my heat, and it took almost no time for the pipes to freeze. I presently have a space heater and heating pad in the laundry room to try to thaw the line, but its been hours and I still have nothing. All the pipes I can reach with my hand in the wall feel pretty warm, so it must be frozen solid elsewhere.

I have no water flowing anywhere with the exception of my washing machine, which seems to have a separate supply. Does anyone have any tips for preventing this, or solving my problem right now? I would be willing to tear into the wall in the laundry room, though I imagine cutting through studs to access the cavity beneath my walkway would be structurally bad. Any advice or ideas? Thanks guys!Name:  20160214_205008.jpg
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Old 02-14-16, 06:17 PM
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It can't be the main water line coming into the house or the washer wouldn't work.
If the main comes into the laundry room then the problem could be in that wall.
 
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Old 02-15-16, 03:33 AM
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I agree. If it only gets cold enough to freeze your water occasionally you might just want to leave a small stream of water running on those nights.
 
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Old 02-15-16, 06:14 AM
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Plumbing

Is that an electrical service panel in the upper part of the first photo? If so, you may have cold air getting into the wall around the service panel.
 
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Old 02-15-16, 07:37 AM
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Like PJ said, it can't be the main water line freezing or the washing machine wouldn't be getting anything.

Where I live, in a small town with very old water lines obviously not buried deep enough we had over 150 houses with frozen water lines last February. Coldest Feb in over 80yrs. Each one had to be dug up with an excavator, thawed, etc. at a cost of between $2.5K to $3K each. Depending on which side of the water key it froze on, the cost would go to the town or the home owner.

The whole town was advised to run a tap trickling that was the farthest one from where the water line entered the house. In spite of doing this, some water lines froze. Some froze three times over the course of the winter. We ran a tap in our bathroom from mid January until late March. Big waste of water, but a cheaper alternative to having our yard dug up.

Some of the ground was frozen so solid they had to use a big industrial blow torch to thaw it out as the excavator shovel was just bouncing off the surface.

This year, we only started running the tap the other day due to a cold snap. A few lines in town froze over the weekend.
 
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Old 02-15-16, 09:46 AM
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Coldest Feb in over 80yrs.
You can say that again. My underground drain lines froze for the first time.
 
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Old 02-16-16, 07:32 AM
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(copied from another forum)

Let me throw out some numbers to think about and argue over.

The water line from the main to your house is likely to be a 1 inch copper pipe even though your water service is rated at 5/8 inch or 3/4 inch.

A 1 inch inside diameter pipe has a cross section of 0.79 sq. inch or 474 ci for a 50 foot run. This is roughly 2 gallons (1 gal -= 231 ci).

Suppose we want to change the water in this water line every 10 minutes to prevent freezing. This means one gallon every 5 minutes or roughly three 8 oz drinking glasses every minute. So set the water faucet to trickle enough to fill the 8 oz glass in 20 seconds.

A 3/4 inch water line has slightly over half the cross section as the 1 inch line so the water would have to trickle just over half the rate.
 
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Old 02-16-16, 07:49 AM
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I lived in northern MI where the solid rock ledge was as low as below grade. That was about the "mythical" frost depth. We normally had about 100" to 200" of snow.

When the snow cover was beginning to be below average the city would notify everyone in critical area to run a small stream of water from the lowest tap in the basement. The city reduced the water rates because it was cheaper and more practical to do that than dig up the city and private excavation on landscaped private property. The sewer lines were as deep as possible when built and did not suffer because all of the waste was warmer. - Our water came from Lake Huron, so there was no real warming of the water during purification/filtering/treatment.

Dick
 
 

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