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Extreme cold and pipes question

 
 
Linkat
 
Reply Mon 6 Jan, 2014 09:44 am
A couple of days ago (after having extremely cold temperatures less than zero with the wind chill), I tried to go in and take a shower. No water. I turned the facet on in the sink - the cold water handle worked, but no water via the hot water handle. When I turned the cold water on in the sink, the shower would then run water, but only cold came out.

I went down stairs - in all our facets we had hot water.

Then my daughter used the downstairs toliet - it wouldn't flush - nothing when you hit the handle - nothing at all. However, the upstairs toliet worked fine.

We had a couple of kids sporting things to attend. When we came home after the temperature went into the double digits and we were ready to call a plumber, voila everything worked fine and has since.

Should we call a plumber at this point to check it? We plan on it. Also, is our freaky house possessed?
 
Lordyaswas
 
  3  
Reply Mon 6 Jan, 2014 09:59 am
I had a similar thing happen a few houses ago, and it turned out that the shower pipes were running through the attic, over the bathroom and down next to the wall that had the shower gubbins.
The pipes were really well lagged, apart from the final bend on the hot pipe which was positioned too close to the beam in the attic to get any amount of lagging around it. Just that inch or so of exposed pipe, right up against the outside wall, was enough for a small blockage of ice to form.

It may be the same with the downstairs loo. Any pipe that is not absolutely 100% wrapped up nice and snug with lagging will be at risk of freeze.

It would be wise to follow every inch along the pipe with a torch and inspect thoroughly for gaps in lagging, and also checking for any freeze damage (lumps, bumps and splits) in exposed parts.

Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Jan, 2014 10:01 am
@Lordyaswas,
Yeah we will get a plumber ..... I fear my husband holding a torch.
0 Replies
 
Ragman
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Jan, 2014 10:03 am
@Lordyaswas,
Ditto what Lordy wrote. There's most likely an exposed pipe/pipes (possibly not wrapped too) close enough to the outside frigid wall or exposed to frigid temps. At 32 deg F you often won't experience this but around zero deg F or lower, they can show their ugly selves.

I did the torch routine and it worked well. All you need to do is be cautious of the torch's angle, size of the flame, and the direction near flammable wall or flooring. To be wise, keep a spray bottle or an extinguisher very close by. With the demand for plumbers it could be spring before you get a plumber over and the cost could be northwards of $100 USD.
PUNKEY
 
  2  
Reply Mon 6 Jan, 2014 12:19 pm
@Ragman,
Hair dryers work, too.
I have a utility room that is cold anyway and had frozen drain and water pipes last week. I disconnected the clothes dryer hose and pointed it to that area and the pipes cleared.

It's supposed to be 13 below here in Michigan USA tonight with severe wind.

I'll be running dripping faucets, for sure.
0 Replies
 
JPB
 
  4  
Reply Mon 6 Jan, 2014 12:40 pm
When the temps are forecast to be zero, or less (like now), I keep a trickle running in the tub of the bathroom that's over our unheated garage. As long as there's water running it shouldn't freeze. In the event that it does freeze, I've found that I can get it to clear by running the dishwasher. Extended and extra heating of the water seems to clear the ice even though it's nowhere near that bathroom. If it freezes, make sure you open the tap (even if nothing comes out) so that there's room for the water that's in the pipe to escape. Water expands as it freezes - you can get a burst pipe if it freezes up and has nowhere push the water that's not yet frozen.
dalehileman
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Jan, 2014 01:25 pm
@Linkat,
No Link don't call a plumber until you're sure there's something wrong. It could cost you $400 for nothing

Quote:
Also, is our freaky house possessed?
I have repeatedly observed, much as you, Link, that the effects of freezing are often puzzling

When substantially below-freezing forecast, let facets drip
Linkat
 
  2  
Reply Mon 6 Jan, 2014 01:43 pm
@dalehileman,
We moved in this house a year and half ago. We did not have this issue last winter. Maybe it just didn't get that cold. It is supposed to get cold again tomorrow. Maybe we will try the drip thing.

Funny how we had hot water in one area of the house but not the other and then the opposite with toliet - the area with running hot water worked but not the toliet. And what about the cold water running freely? Just seems like a Gremlin is toying with us.

I think we need to get rid of the elf on the shelf.
Rockhead
 
  3  
Reply Mon 6 Jan, 2014 01:45 pm
@Linkat,
hot water pipes freeze first.*

an electric pipe tape at the point of the problem would probably fix things...


*they are really cool when they burst. frozen steam fountains...
Rockhead
 
  2  
Reply Mon 6 Jan, 2014 01:54 pm
@Linkat,
you might also want to look at better insulating some parts of your house...
roger
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Jan, 2014 01:59 pm
@Linkat,
I agree with Dale and Rockhead. Don't call a plumber! If a water pipe had burst, you would know. Believe me, you would know. If none have burst, there's nothing for a plumber to do except write a bill.

Use the heat tape suggestion if the part that froze is accessible. By now, you should have a reasonable idea of the critical temperature (more or less), so when that's in the forecast, leave a few taps dripping.

Don't ever leave a water hose hooked up to they faucet outside, and get some insulating Styrofoam caps for the exterior faucets.


Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Jan, 2014 02:03 pm
@Rockhead,
So who would you call then, if not a plumber for insulating these parts and make sure the right parts are insulated? How would we know where these pipes are and where we need to put tape? Aren't most of the pipes within the walls?

I think there are pipes I might be able to see in my daughter's closest - it does get colder in her closet - I'm going check that out at least.
Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Jan, 2014 02:05 pm
@roger,
Yeah I realize if we had a burst pipe we would know it. That is why first thing I went and checked downstairs and in the basement. But we want to make sure that a burst pipe is avoided why we want a plumber to check it out.

We do have a friend that is a plumber - he does more businesses, but several years ago helped us out when our water heater went during the weekend. I don't want to bother him (he is almost too nice) as we used to leave nearby and now live 20 minutes or more away from him. We also do not see the family as regularly as our kids are now in different schools.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Jan, 2014 04:06 pm
@JPB,
Dys told me the water drip business too. He suggested in two places.
This thread is helpful. I looked up about my new piping after the massive leak disaster of 2012 (where did it go? into the sand, I take it. 500 gal an hour, 15 months of paying off the water bill for that.)
Anyway, I got new piping called pex, which impresses me so far. But it too can freeze, though apparently much less fast, so I'm continuing the drip-a-bit bit.
They also installed new hose bibs by some company that makes "frost free" ones, Woodford. No problemo so far.

It doesn't get Chicago type cold here. I remember that, ice skated on South Blvd pond in a vacant lot at - 7. There was a warming hut on the lot, which was a good thing. And cocoa once we got back. Anyway, it doesn't get so wildly cold here, at least so far, but does get to freezing in winter.
0 Replies
 
Rockhead
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Jan, 2014 07:59 pm
@Linkat,
if you cannot figure out how the pipes are run, a plumber or handyman might be in order.

do you have a basement or crawlspace?
chai2
 
  3  
Reply Mon 6 Jan, 2014 08:20 pm
Laughing Laughing

I think when lordy said torch, he meant what we 'mericans call a flashlight.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Jan, 2014 08:23 pm
@Linkat,
I didn't know it when I had a burst pipe - it was probably under the house and this area is land of sand. I've lived with basements before, and with cripple walls, but now I live in a no base level building, sitting on slab. It is in an ill begotten housing track that I don't just hate since I like the look of the places and the people. The developer was a devil, though, and I can say that since I have designed for major developers (2). Most of the houses on my street have replaced the plumbing, some (before a bunch of us got here) via lawsuit. Real estate agents, including mine, must have known. I liked her, Dys liked her, she knew a lot of New Mexico history.

I take it my line break was within or under slab. I only found out when the once a month guy from the water company told me about rampant water loss, humongous.

Early on, I saw the slab in one room - when I took up the carpet- had run out of concrete. Plain dirty sand in one part of the room.

I told you all it was a lemon, the embarrassing thing is that I didn't pick it up when I walked through (I saw stuff I thought I could fix), a mix of me needing to move fast and the inspector being an ass, not so much on the use of polybutylene pipe, though grrr on that, but missing about five other things. I might be able to sue but I don't have the style or the energy.

0 Replies
 
JPB
 
  2  
Reply Mon 6 Jan, 2014 09:26 pm
Just had to try the dishwasher trick and it worked. The hot water line in the upstairs bathroom froze (I'd only left a drip running on the cold water side - DUMB!), but the dishwasher cleared it. Now we've got both sides dripping away.
roger
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Jan, 2014 09:33 pm
@chai2,
Of course he meant a flashlight - now that you mention it.
0 Replies
 
JPB
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Jan, 2014 09:36 pm
@Rockhead,
Rockhead wrote:

hot water pipes freeze first.*


Why is that?
 

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