Frozen baseboard heating pipe - use heat tape?

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Old 10-21-11, 04:37 PM
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Frozen baseboard heating pipe - use heat tape?

Aftewr being in our house for a couple of years came home to water pouring through my garage ceiling. Turned out that the orginal builder had run about 6 feet of baseboard hot water heating
pipe through an attic space, with no insulation on the pipe. Unusually cold winter - fozen pipe. After repairing I insulated the pipe, but with another cold winter projected I am wondering if that is enough. I was contemplating adding a run of heat cable to the pipe, perhaps offsetting it from direct contact with the pipe with 1/2" spacers but don't know if this is required or if this is an appropriate use of heating cable.
 
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Old 10-21-11, 05:20 PM
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Is there any living space close to the pipe for its entire run? If so, my suggestion would be to insulate heavily on all sides of the pipe except the side that has living space next to it. That way the heat from the living space heats the area the pipe is in. If you need to construct a box around it, do so. Foam board may even be a good idea.
 
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Old 10-21-11, 06:56 PM
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Heat tape. Bunch of manufacturers out there. Emerson, Frost King, etc. The better ones have a thermostat so it will only turn on when ambient temperature drops below setpoint.

Like...
AHB Heating Cables

Frost King - PIPE INSULATION
 
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Old 10-22-11, 10:28 AM
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appreciate the help

Thanks. I haver it heavily wrapped now but like the idea of a foamboard box to enclose it - I think that's the way I will go
 
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Old 10-23-11, 04:31 PM
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Passive measures, such as proposed by Drooplug, might be best.

The Rube Goldberg in me thinks of some slightly hare-brained alternatives to conventional heat tracing. (First, even with electric tracing, I would want some kind of alarm in the event that power was lost to the tracing.)

If the freeze-prone piping is on a pumped zone with a flo-control valve, install a small bypass line around the valve - then gravity flow will keep the pipe slightly warm. If you want to get fancy, put a thermostat-controlled, solenoid-operated, shut-off valve in the bypass line.

If the zone is controlled by a zone valve, you could install a small jockey pump and check valve, all in parallel with the zone valve. The jockey pump would start based on outdoor temp.

Mount a depleted uranium heat source onto the outside of the pipe. (That's a joke, but it might work if you could get a radiological permit for it.)
 
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Old 10-23-11, 04:50 PM
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Just my experience, pipes are run in garages all the time.

In my whole plumbing career 95% of frozen pipes in the garage are from the garage door being left open during freezing conditions.

Possibly this was the situation?

Mike NJ
 
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Old 10-23-11, 05:19 PM
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Mike, that's good info. I have heating pipes running through the garage ceiling (under the floor of the heated bedroom above). No freezing problems (yet), but it's a good suggestion. All our piping is steel, heating and water, so it might have survived freezings? (Copper might not have?)

Our house was built in the early 1950s - not sure what they did during construction, but, so far, no frozen pipes, heating or potable water. But always close the garage doors!
 
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