Shower pipes freezing

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Old 09-15-11, 01:14 PM
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Shower pipes freezing

Hi, I need to find out how to access some water lines. I have a shower with the faucet on an exterior wall. In temps below 18 degrees, the line(s) freeze. The outside walls are stucco, the interior walls are quarry tile (12 in). I tried removing the faucet valve plate, there is insulation in the wall, the feeder lines are also wrapped with pipe insulation. I cannot see the shower supply line going up to the head. I hesitate breaking any of the tile inside the house, and also the stucco outside. Any suggestions as to how to isolate this freezing location? When the line freezes, and we turn on the water, all I hear is a swoosh and no water. Sounds to me like it is freezing above the mixer valve?
 
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Old 09-15-11, 01:24 PM
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Additional info: The house is 3 years old, builder went out or business, no warranty available for repairs. Tubing is PEX. Faucet is Moen, no water stops. Thanks.
 
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Old 09-15-11, 02:16 PM
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Do the tiles go all the way to the ceiling? I know of only one way to "help" prevent freezing on the outside wall and that would be to inject non expanding foam in the wall cavity, but you would need access above the shower stem and through where the control valve is located. And even then, the existing insulation may prevent a good flow of foam from coating around the pipes. Be glad they are pex, as it is less likely to burst from freezing than copper.
 
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Old 09-15-11, 02:39 PM
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Unfortunatly there is not much you can really do. I will try to think of other suggestions but the best thing to do is get the shower to run a steady drip or stream in freezing weather. Moving water has a hard time freezing.

Serviced a church with pipes in the attic once. Several plumbers tried miracle fixes and one tried to box and insulate the pipes with cooler type styrofoam and insulation. It never worked and always froze. They called our company because they were so frustrated. I instructed them that unless they spend thousands to replumb the whole church and offices that theres nothing they can do, and all they needed to do was run a pencil stream from sevaral faucets around the building. ( seems like common knowledge but some people dont know)

They were tickled pink that we were the only ones that did not suggest a thousand dollar miracle fix.

It is what it is.

Cost free.... Outcome? Possibly I am alittle closer to heaven....

Mike NJ
 
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Old 09-15-11, 03:28 PM
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Another thought, too, the shower head stand pipe should not have any water in it anyway once the shower is finished and the diverter released.
 
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Old 09-15-11, 03:58 PM
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I agree with the small stream idea but here the city water department actively campaigns against it with spots on local news shows. There are dire warnings that if people do it firefighters won't have the water pressure to fight fires. I have cutoffs and drains on my lines at their lowest point now.

Ahh, the memories of learning how to use Dresser couplings lying in barely above freezing mud under a house with less then 18" clearance.
 
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Old 09-15-11, 04:04 PM
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Another thought, too, the shower head stand pipe should not have any water in it anyway once the shower is finished and the diverter released.
I think this is shower only. The pipe would retain all the water.

Mike NJ
 
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Old 09-15-11, 04:26 PM
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Yes, this is shower only, no diverter. There is about 8 inches of drywall above the tile. Not much room for access. Guess I will have to break into the tile and expose the area around the pipe. Thanks to all for your advice.
 
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