Help! Inaccessible frozen pipes

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Old 01-25-08, 09:31 PM
dsw
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Angry Help! Inaccessible frozen pipes

I recently renovated my basement. Unfortunately the pipes to my washing machine (placed in a laundry room in the corner of the basement -- along an outside wall) have frozen and I am not sure what to do. The walls have all been finished.

Temps around here are not expected above freezing for a few more days.

Any suggestions on how to thaw frozen pipes when they are not accessible? Should I be worried about a burst? Help?
 
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Old 01-26-08, 06:19 AM
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Hate to say it, but you need to cut those walls out, insulate the pipes (after you thaw them with a hair dryer), and replace the wall covering. Placing the pipes on an exterior wall is the major problem with the freeze cycle. Are the pipes copper, cpvc or pex? Copper will burst fairly easily, so access to the area may avert a leak once they do thaw out.
 
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Old 01-26-08, 06:54 AM
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If the pipe is metallic, find someone who uses one of these, or a similar melter:

http://www.pipethaw.com/ownersmanual.html

... much safer than the "arc welder" method.

That will thaw the pipe, you then have to reroute it or prevent it from freezing again.
 
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Old 01-26-08, 10:37 AM
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Thanks for the responses. For whatever reason, the hot water line starting working last night. Then, I pointed a very warm construction lamp at the wall were I knew the cold was running and this morning it started flowing again.

We're planning to put a heater in the room as a preventative step.

I guess the biggest concern is that one of the copper pipes is leaking behind the wall. Does it make sense to open the wall up now? If there is a leak, we'll eventually find it and I'll end up having to open it up. If there is no leak, then I'll have opened the wall for nothing.

Any thoughts?
 
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Old 01-26-08, 02:29 PM
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You will not have opened the wall up for nothing. I wouldn't wait until sunset before I opened it up. The potential that a leak can destroy your remodeled room is large. You can't see it and can't guarantee it won't develop a leak. And, besides, you need to insulate the copper, anyway. If there is no leak, then you can breathe easier, and enjoy the game without wondering, is it leaking?
 
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Old 01-27-08, 07:48 AM
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Before I opened the wall I would turn off all water in the house (including things like humidifiers, toilets, and ice makers) and watch the water meter - if it shows no flow after a few hours, you are unlikely to have a leak.
 
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Old 01-27-08, 02:57 PM
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I was gioing to post the water meter idea yesterday but thought better of it. From what I have actually witnessed, I have actually seen good size leaks that do not even cause that little red speed dial inside to turn one iota.

I was also going to have them listen to pipe with a stethoscope device. But what if there was this drip of only one drip per so many seconds. You would wind up getting moisture/growth in that wall, yet hear no sound, more than likely.

If one can go under the house/crawl space, let's say, one could maybe wait to see if any dampness shows up under there, to determine if there really is a leak. Then if so, open the wall and then spray with bleach, let set for at least say an hour, then run fan in there until dry.
 
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Old 01-30-08, 09:10 AM
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It's always a good idea to have shutoff valves on any water lines going to a laundry room. A good ball valve costs about $6.00. So $12 buys alot of peace of mind. Also when ever I leave my house for more than 24 hours I always shut off the water at the main.
 
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