Cold water pipes keep freezing.. what to do?

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  #1  
Old 01-19-05, 02:07 PM
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Cold water pipes keep freezing.. what to do?

I have a traditional Bi-level house, only 2 years old. The upper level is modular and the bottom level is stick build. Anyhow, the master bedroom and master bathroom are located over the 2 car garage which is UNheated. I live in northern New Jersey and this week as been cold, very cold, like 0 degrees F at night and only 10 degrees F during the day at my house this week.

Anyhow, this morning I woke up, turned on my master bedrooms sink, and only got hot water. The cold water line must be frozen because when I try to put only cold water on, nothing comes out. What's weird is the toilet bowl next to the sink and the shower both have cold water no problem. So anyhow, it's supposed to stay very cold for this next week and I am afraid that my pipes my burst if they are already frozen. Is there a way to unfreeze the cold water pipe?

I think it's because the garage is so cold and the pipes to the master bathroom run through the ceiling of the garage.

I need to know what I can do to 1.) get the cold water running again, and 2.) prevent this from happening again...

Thanks
 
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  #2  
Old 01-19-05, 02:35 PM
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If you can see the pipes in the garage you can use a blow dryer to thaw them. Opening cabinets where there are water lines (under sinks etc) at night helps a lot. You may have to get some sort of temporary heat in the garage (kerosene heater). The lines need to be insulated or a heat tape installed on them. Good luck.
Leaving a small stream of water running on cold nights will also keep the lines from freezing.
 
  #3  
Old 01-19-05, 03:01 PM
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now being that the cold water line is frozen, and has probably been frozen for a good 24 hours now, do you think it will bust? the house is only 2 years old so the pipes are pretty new?
how long does it generally take the pipes to bust? like does the ENTIRE length of the pipe have to freeze before it can bust? or does the ice just freeze in like a 1-foot section only and then bust the pipe?
 
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Old 01-19-05, 03:10 PM
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The problem with a frozen pipe is that when water thaws, it expands. Thats what causes the line to burst. I do not know what type pipes you have (copper, PEX, CPVC). If it is allowed to thaw on it's own it MAY not break. Leave the faucet open, that may help. Pipes freeze where it is the coldest (like thats a surprise). It may just be a small section.
 
  #5  
Old 01-19-05, 03:13 PM
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It may have already burst, and if you can't see the pipe, you won't know it until it thaws out.
There are no set answers to your questions. There are too many variables on how water in a pipe may freeze, where it may freeze, or what it will do when it does freeze. It may not damage the pipe at all, and everything will be fine when it thaws out. It may push a 90 or joint apart, or it may split a whole section of pipe. Ice does weird things.
Living where you live and the way your home is built, you need to make plans for a permanent heating source and insulation in that garage.
Do NOT use a direct flame heat source on frozen pipes, such as a propane torch. It may cause a steam explosion.
Good luck!
Mike
 
  #6  
Old 01-19-05, 03:29 PM
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okay thanks, yes it's very annoying that the pipes in the garage ceiling get frozen like this on a new house... it only happens on these SUPER cold days and nights though..

tell me this, if when the ice thaws I get regular running water out of my faucet, will that mean that the pipe is all fine?

if the pipe did break would you get any water out of the faucet? if so, would the water be very very weak pressure?

and how long would it take to see water stains on your ceiling if they did burst?
 
  #7  
Old 01-19-05, 03:37 PM
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If the line breaks, you will probably see water in the garage before the faucet. If it is a small break it may take a little longer but will appear soon.
 
  #8  
Old 01-22-05, 05:28 AM
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well it was -8 degrees F last night and the pipes froze again, I left the cabinent doors open and the water trickling, but it still froze. I just put a temperature sensor in my garage, the farthest corner of the garage from the house where it is probably the coldest and this is also the area below my pipes... it's reading right now: 23 degrees F in my garage and slowly dropping.. is that too cold for the garage to get?

or do you think it's just the insulation in my garage ceiling that is freezing the pipes up? what can I do to fix this issue without tearing holes in my garage ceiling and putting more insulation in there?
 
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Old 01-22-05, 10:07 AM
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You could try heating the garage.

Gary
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Last edited by Doug Aleshire; 03-11-05 at 03:29 PM.
  #10  
Old 01-22-05, 12:17 PM
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well I just cut holes in the garage ceiling to get to the pipes. They did't burst (Thank God), but they were frozen right before they go up through the floor. It seems that the copper part of the pipes was frozen because after about 1 foot of it coming into the garage ceiling, the pipe changes to this gray PVC plastic I think. . I dont' think that part was frozen.... and besides, isn't it much harder for pvc plastic to freeze and bust versus copper pipe?

so anyhow, the problem is, since these pipes are on the outside wall of the garage, there isn't enough insulation behind the pipes.. The 1-1.5 foot garage overhang outside is all hollow in there and that's pretty much what the pipes are next too.. so I think that's why it's freezing.. I am going to have to stuff some more insulation in there...

any suggestions on what type of insulation and what thickness to use? should I also get that fiberglass insulated pipe wrap stuff? or just use regular rectangular insulation and stuff a bunch in there all around the pipes?

you think this will fix my freezing pipes issue?
 
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Old 01-22-05, 01:58 PM
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Hi Squale,
- I can see you've got tons of good advice so far, but seeing as 'the gang's all here' ( ) I'll chip in my 2 cent's worth.
Expose the pipes back to where they enter the garage area, cover both sets of pipe in this area with (first) the 1/2" grey foam pipe insulation. Tape all insulation joints with duct tape (thanks Red Green). Next, get also the 1 1/2" grey pipe insulation, and place it OVER the other, staggering the joints. ie, -start the thicker stuff in the middle of a run. This creates better cover. Next buy some of the new green insulation batts, 6" thick. Get into the eaves somehow and place these along the top of soffit in the garage area.

Do it Right - Do it once.
 
  #12  
Old 01-22-05, 04:27 PM
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you don't think just insulation will work?
 
  #13  
Old 01-22-05, 05:07 PM
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squale, You keep asking for advice and then asking if you can change or otherwise alter what you were told. The people in these forums give you the best advice available. If there was a shorter route they would say so. Please accept their advice and do it as they describe. This will solve your problem. Thank you.
 
  #14  
Old 01-22-05, 05:59 PM
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LOL I agree majakdragon.


Amazing how simple cures can be easily ignored.


As for sensible thinking, I would have one of those ceramic heaters that cost pennies a day to run in that garage just to cut the possibility of freezing... but
 
  #15  
Old 01-23-05, 08:03 AM
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are you talking about the sealed oil electric radiators? how are they, any good?

I decided to take the advice here and NOT go with ventless heaters..

btw, about the pipes, I will do as you guys say, I was just wondering why you recommended putting foam insulation on first inside of using the better fiberglass pipe insulation and THEN regular rectangular insulation? I just thought the foam insulation was not that great..


Originally Posted by DUNBAR PLUMBER
LOL I agree majakdragon.


Amazing how simple cures can be easily ignored.


As for sensible thinking, I would have one of those ceramic heaters that cost pennies a day to run in that garage just to cut the possibility of freezing... but
 
  #16  
Old 01-24-05, 08:41 AM
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okay just wanted to give an update, I opened up the garage ceiling and go to the pipes. There was no insulation behind the pipes facing the outside wall of the house so I was getting a draft coming in from outside. So I toke 1/2" foam pipe insulation and put that on the pipes whereever I could get to them. I ductaped the insulation on to secure it there. Home Depot didn't have 1.5" foam pipe insulation so I couldn't put that on. Then I took R-25 insulation and stuffed that tightly around all side of the pipes. I put it all the way back to cover over the soffit too. Well last night was bitter cold with like -15 degree F windchill. So the hot and cold water pipes for the sink didn't freeze, but the cold water toilet bowl pipe still froze last night. There is about a 3 foot piece of the cold water pipe that tees off and goes to the toilet. I couldn't get all of this insulated so I think I draft is still getting up in there or something.

My one concern however is, since this area I have to work in is very small, I couldn't just lay the insulation down like you are supposed to. I had to cut like 1 foot long pieces and stuff that in the hole around the pipes. So the pipes are completely covered on all sides by this insulation pretty tightely packed. Is this bad to have this insulation tightly packed around the pipes? will I get condensation problems in the summer?

Thanks
 
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