Frozen tub drain??

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  #1  
Old 01-22-03, 06:41 PM
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Unhappy Frozen tub drain??

Thanks to the unusually cold weather here in MD, I am in thr process of cleaning up from a burst water pipe in the basement. While making the repair the plumber said there was so little insulation between the pipes and the wall (about 8" away) that he thought the tub drain might be frozen too. After fixing the pipe I ran water into the tub for about 10 seconds and he declared the drain fine.

A friend came over the next day and put insulation everywhere he could cram it between the pipes and the wall and we also insulated the newly installed pipe. This morning when I took a shower the water seemed to drain for a little bit and then stopped.

Tonight I bailed out the water while a heater blew into the access space where the pipes and drain are located. After an hour there still was no change and I couldn't see any hair blockages. Plunging did no good.

Is there any way for me to figure out whether I've got a blockage that I can do something about or a frozen drain, or am I about to pay the plumber again?

Thanks...
 
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  #2  
Old 01-22-03, 08:27 PM
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You might buy a hand crank auger and see if you can get it through the line, chances are it's plugged up down the line.
 
  #3  
Old 01-23-03, 01:49 AM
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A drain line frozen? Not likely, except maybe in the trap. There isn't (or shouldn't be) water standing in a drain line. Nothing there to freeze.

Lefty3, if the shower drain worked fine for for more than about 10 seconds, you don't have frozen water in the trap. You have a clogged drain.
 
  #4  
Old 01-23-03, 03:36 AM
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I'll give it a try...

Thanks for the suggestions. I'll get an auger and try it tonight.
 
  #5  
Old 01-23-03, 11:45 AM
FirstMate
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frozen drain line

I don't agree with the moderator. We have a frozen shower drain line. Extremely cold weather and winds recently in Ohio; on a trip for a week so turned the thermostat down and no water usage. Plumber in today couldn't clear it as it is frozen beyond the trap. Probably because it's not insulated well and on the west outside wall. Have vacuumed up from the drain and am trying driveway salt and hot water, but no luck so far. May have to wait for the spring thaw!!
 
  #6  
Old 01-23-03, 04:29 PM
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How about Heating tape?

I can't get help tonight, so my plan is to get with a friend on Sat. and I will blow a hair dryer on the trap while he uses the auger on the tub. Between the two of us we should figure out what's going on and maybe even fix it.

I've been reading on the Web and saw something about heating tape that is used by mobile home owners to keep their under-home pipes from freezing (wrap around pipe and plug into electric). Is that something that I could try on the tub drain, or would the temp not be safe near the fiberglass insulation nearby?

Also, a friend at work today suggested that for the future (once the drain thaws), keep a bottle of anti-freeze in the bathroom and pour a bit down the drain when done so that the trap and line won't freeze. I'm on city sewer, not septic; is there any reason I shouldn't take this advice?

Thanks to all.
 
  #7  
Old 01-23-03, 04:38 PM
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Well a drain can freeze beyond the trap but it is much less common than a trap freezing... for it to freeze PAST the trap, you would have to have some water dripping in the tub all night at a very slow pace... then ice can form down the drain at a very slow pace (the same way an icicle forms), and the ice can grow in size and farther down the drain until it fills up... Some people do more harm than good by leaving a faucet dripping to keep it from freezing, but they don't leave it dripping fast enough... You should leave faucets dripping enough to make a solid line to the bottom of the tub, NOT just a little drip... Of course, you need to do something to keep the drain pipe from freezing in the future, and for that application, I like to buy the fiberglass wrap that you can wrap around the pipe as many times as you can afford, and then top it off with some duct tape... That is the easiest kind to put over a p-trap anyway, and can be built up the neatest and easiest in my opinion...
 
  #8  
Old 01-24-03, 04:09 PM
Vixen72
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Unhappy

we live in a mobile home and was told that no way could a drain pipe freeze. And have found out actually that it can in fact freeze our problem is that it just won't thaw at all since here it has not gotten above freezing for a week now. All we need help with is how to get it to unfreeze and how to keep that way. I heard heating tape on a drain is bad for it. They sell antifreeze for pipes does anyone know if that is safe to use. We are going nuts here trying to unfreeze this pipe nothing is working also seem that the pipe will be hard to get too without cutting thru from the bottom of the trailer if the pipe in within the floor there. My trailer is about 29 yrs old and has very old pipes. i really need some help here
 
  #9  
Old 01-24-03, 08:58 PM
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Vixen72,

After reading Ragnar's explaination, he is right about drain pipes freezing, and I was wrong. Indeed, given the temps in the eastern 2/3 of the country right now, they CAN freeze in places beyond the trap.

Mobile home -- almost all of your drain lines are embedded in the floor insulation. To access them you will have to go under the mobile and cut the insulation retainer. Use a hair dryer to thaw the pipe and get the water flowing again. Make sure you get teh insulation back around the pipe and reseal the insulation retainer.

Using heat tape on a drain is going to be bad for the HEAT TAPE. Without water in the pipe, it will overheat and burn out.

Antifreeze is not a solution. If the drain is flowing properly, the antifreeze will flow just like the water -- either to the city sewer or to the septic tank.

The only workable solutions are:

1.) keeping the water pipes warm enough so they can't freeze, therefore there is no need to run water through them all nite.

2.) If you have to run the water all nite, run it fast enough so the drain lines don't freeze either, as Ragnar explained.
 
  #10  
Old 01-24-03, 10:09 PM
Vixen72
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That will be pretty hard to do to get under trailer ever time it freezes. WE have bolts holding in the skirt around the trailor. hard to get off. I have gotten it thawed now. but no way of keeping that way really if it keeps getting this cold. I will just have to keep doing what i am doing to unfreeze it thx for help.

There is no way of keeping these drains warm. They are right were the cold frigid wind blows and the pipe is insulated.
 
  #11  
Old 01-24-03, 10:25 PM
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Vixen72,

I know, it's no consolation, but you aren't the only one having problems like this right now. And when it finally warms up to 9 degrees for you tomorrow afternoon, it's still not going to be any fun going out and try to correct the problem. (Much better spring or summer project), but if you can find a way to keep the WATER pipes worm enough to keep them from freezing, you won't have to run the water all nite, and then the DRAIN lines won't freeze.
 
  #12  
Old 03-06-09, 06:28 AM
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frozen drain encased in ice

I got an even more challenging issue,lol. I have several springs that empty out behind (and thus under) my mobile home. this year it has resulted in about 8 inches of ice forming around the main drain line where it runs into the ground. so far the best plan i have come up with is to clear the ice from around the drain( cordless drill w/ masonary bit and chisels) then somehow( aint figured this part out yet) block the ice from reforming around it. it goes without saying i got some Serious drainage work when the ground thaws like maybe july or sorogram:
 

Last edited by cknightspot; 03-06-09 at 06:29 AM. Reason: typos and forgotten words
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