Frozen water supply line


  #1  
Old 01-15-17, 09:03 AM
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Smile Frozen water supply line

For the first time in the 12 years since I built our shop, the water supply line has frozen.

For the past 3 weeks it's been getting down to -12C , or colder, at night with highs reaching -4C, maybe. For the record, I live in Mission, British Columbia at an elevation of approx. 1100 ft. and this is about 8-10 degrees C below normal. We've had temps this cold since the shop was built but only for 2-3 days, not for weeks.

Anyway, the water supply come from a wide creek/pond that is 110' from the building's mechanical room (entry point) and the total lift from the water is about 15'. The supply line is 1" flexible black potable water line with a submersible pump in the water. The depth of the line from the building to the crest of the hill down to the water is approximately 2' deep, which was the recommended depth from the municipality during construction as their spec for frost line was 18". from the crest of the hill to the water, the pipe is less than 2', and possibly less than 18" due to the conditions of the site. The further you go from the crest of the hill, down toward the water, the soil gets more moist and our excavator was actually sliding down the hill so we had to hand-dig about 50'.

The good news is we're supposed to get a nice warm, rainy spell here in the next day or so that is supposed to last at least a week. My question is, if I mound soil or mulch an extra 12"-24" over-top of the buried water line, where I think it's too shallow, and mound the material 3'-4' past either side of the water line, does this increase my frost protection factor or am I over-simplifying?

I've looked into a couple of heat-trace cable products that can be fed through the existing water line without excavation but they run about $15/ft. plus the cost of operation, which is a bit steep, unless there's no other way.

Lastly, is it true that if I leave a faucet running in the building, that this would keep my pump/water operating therefore minimizing my chances of freeze-up. If so, would a dripping faucet do the trick or does it need to be more of a steady stream of water? I just thought I'd ask in case we don't see the ground until March. On top of the cold temperatures, we've got about 3'-4' of snow on the ground, too!

Thanks for reading my lengthy thread!
 
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Old 01-15-17, 09:16 AM
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Where in Canada are you located ?

That 18" to the frost line threw me; I thought you were closer to our Mason-Dixon Line !
 
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Old 01-15-17, 10:03 AM
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We live in Mission, British Columbia, which is about a 15 minute drive to the Canada-US border at Washington State.

We haven't had a problem until this year.
 
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Old 01-15-17, 10:28 AM
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Okay, I see that's what you wrote at the beginning. So -12C is only about +10F or +11F . . . . a little chilly; but not yet really COLD.

Do you think you could have lost your prime ?

Or possibly got a clogged strainer/screen in the pond ?

We used to grow algae in our Spring (too much light) which would adhere to the Foot Valve/Strainer and the algae would slowly block the flow of water until it completely stopped flowing . . . . that could give the same symptoms as as a frozen pipe !

When they say "leave the water running", they mean "at a trickle" which isn't a very specific measurement; but it's just fast enough to prevent the water from crystallizing and turning to ice. So a stream slightly smaller than the thickness of a pencil . . . . not disconnected drips . . . . and certainly not gushing !

As a Real Estate Broker, I once sold a farmhouse to a guy from Laos, and he had been told that "moving water will not freeze", so he left his water in the vacant house running at full force for full winter. This action altered the water table below the Spring (which had been utilized since the 1790s) and destroying its future as a water source . . . . and he also destroyed the Leach Field by somehow sending all of the accumulated solids from the Septic Tank out to the disposal area, and clogging it up. My Laotian Friend diminished the value of that property by ≈ $15.000 - $20,000 because of his mis-understanding.

What's my point . . . . words matter !
 

Last edited by Vermont; 01-15-17 at 11:56 AM.
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Old 01-15-17, 12:45 PM
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It's funny you should mention "Words Matter."
A few years ago I took a few courses that covered various aspects of technical writing. Since taking those courses I've really become aware of the spoken and written word, and the importance of conveying one's message clearly!

Thanks for the input about the submersible pump's intake screen and algae accumulation. I have a guy coming to help me with some work on the property tomorrow and I'll explore that possibility.

Do you have an opinion on whether or not mounding more soil, above ground, above the existing, buried water line would help in adding "insulation" value to the area? I can't decide if that would help or not.
 
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Old 01-15-17, 02:31 PM
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Originally Posted by gloveguy
". . . Do you have an opinion on whether or not mounding more soil, above ground, above the existing, buried water line would help in adding "insulation" value to the area? . . ."
My mind wandered away from the "frozen pipe" because it has never happened before in 12 years . . . . and then, I again read about you having 3-4 feet (like over a meter) of insulating snow on the ground, and I began thinking that the amount of terrestrial heat retained by that amount of snow would inhibit any freezing.

I onetime sold a house where the Moose would frequently dislodge the cover on the Spring, and then Pine Cones would be sucked into the intake pipe (which was without a screen). The Owner had to put a pump inside the house to pump water backwards up the hill, to push the pine cones out. Never installed a screen, and left me to explain the procedure of how to push out the debris inside the intake water line.

Well, that's my 2 . . . . I don't think your pipe is frozen !
 
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Old 01-15-17, 03:46 PM
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Thanks for reading my thread! I'll be investigating things thoroughly tomorrow, so, I'll check back on my findings.

Any other thoughts and suggestions are appreciated.
 
 

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