Buried underground down spouts - problem with freezing?

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Old 09-10-15, 03:53 PM
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Buried underground down spouts - problem with freezing?

I have 3 downspouts leading to underground PVC pipe that drain to pop ups in my yard. So far they are working great but I am getting a bit worried about our winter.

I live in Canada so 6 months of 0-20F weather is common.

1. Will water freeze in the pipes causing them to crack and then leak when spring comes? Do I need to run a heat tape through the pipes?The pipe is only 3".
2. As the pop ups work against gravity, are they more likely to freeze and crack during spring freeze-thaw?
3. Some of the PVC pipe goes under concrete walkways, are those more likely to crack if the PVC pipe freezes?
4. I am terrified the PVC pipe will get clogged. We have no trees within a block of our house, is this something I need to be worried about?

Thanks everyone!
 
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Old 09-10-15, 05:53 PM
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Are you a new owner & don't know what happened in previous winters? I'm trying to understand why the coming winter would be any different.
 
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Old 09-10-15, 07:00 PM
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Winters do vary when it comes freezing below ground. The mythical "frost depth" only relates to the worst possible winter for structural damage in a bout 100 years with little snow cover.

I have a downspout (large collection area) that does feed a pop-up. I usually divert it from the pvc pop-up to a downspout extension and discharge to the yard for run-off for the winter and spring.

One winter, either because of neglect or being out of town it did not get diverted to surface drainage. Fortunately, we had a lot of early snow to cover the ground for insulation. In the spring, everything was fine and working well with no damage despite a quite a few -20F to -10F mornings. If there is a good snow cover and it is not disturbed, the frost depth is not that great. -A shoveled path, sidewalk or driveway will have a minimum effect freezing level. Our usual soil temperatures at 4' are usually close to 50F to 54F if it is "virgin" soil.

Dick
 
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Old 09-11-15, 06:35 AM
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At the shallow depths of my discharge pipes (thinwall DWV pipe) I'm pretty sure there's some cracks but they still carry most of the water away like they're supposed to.
My runs are all a single 10' length of pipe and so far (maybe 12 years since installed) the only stoppage has been a wad of leaves & maple "whirlybirds" right at the pop-up. A good downpour will blow off the pop-up, and the plug.
 
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Old 09-11-15, 07:40 AM
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"A good downpour will blow off the pop-up, and the plug."

Good to know! But given these pop ups work against gravity, at some point they will fill to the brim and water will sit in the pipe and then freeze correct?

"If there is a good snow cover and it is not disturbed, the frost depth is not that great. -A shoveled path, sidewalk or driveway will have a minimum effect freezing level."

Thanks for this. I'll try to just keep the snow over the underground pipe.

"Are you a new owner & don't know what happened in previous winters? I'm trying to understand why the coming winter would be any different."

We did landscaping this year - walkways, patios etc. and the downspouts had previously just run into the lawn above ground which of course was fine in the winter.
 
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Old 09-11-15, 08:04 AM
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I didn't see how deep you installed these pipes. IMO, they will not survive a bad winter with minimal snow and the shoveled walkway will see deeper frost, unless it is close to the house.

Your design is better suited for Florida, but, if you divert it during the winter as Dick suggested it can survive. That is assuming there is no water retained in the pipe that can freeze. Usually the pop-up has a drain in the bottom to eliminate standing water.

One of the bad parts about gutters draining underground, or just draining, is the the specific conditions similar to that which forms ice dams. With just enough sun penetrating the snow on the roof you can get a slow trickle of water into your system while the air and ground are below freezing. That trickle freezes somewhere along the line and allows more water to fill up the pipes and downspout. Heat tapes are an expensive patch and diverting is a better solution.

Bud
 
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Old 09-11-15, 08:45 AM
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Our winters in my part of Vermont might be a bit more severe (often well below -40F) than the OP's local conditions; but I can say that after dealing with Real Estate in this area for 30 years, gutters and downspouts are seldom effective.

As a Broker, I have seen many examples of gutters and downspouts which have become fully loaded with ice and simply broke off because of the weight.

Often people fail to clear the snow away from the bottoms of the downspouts at the beginning of the season, or remove all possible congestion inside of then. That usually results in backups of water that freeze into columns of solid ice, and results in gutters that similarly, become solid with ice. This is particularly true at vacation or seasonal properties which get a little less attention.

Some people place heat tape inside their downspouts . . . . but that activity has it's own safety issues. Around here. these drainage systems are often removed because they're more of a headache then an asset . . . . but some people have the diligence to keep them working. Most people think they've done quite a bit if they just kept their roofs shoveled.

I would check in with your local Canadian neighbors and see what they have experienced and how they deal with your local conditions . . . . and take my queue from their experience(s).
 
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Old 09-11-15, 10:08 AM
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Here in MI I haven't had any issues with leaving them connected year-'round except for one winter that seemed to be a "perfect storm" of conditions.
2 winters ago we had a warm early spring and the unusually heavy snow accumulation started to melt off the roof. I found a puddle of water in my basement for the first time in the 20 years I've lived here. Since the sun had melted the gutters & roof snow--but the ground was still frozen--all that water had nowhere to go except gush out the adapter collar where the downspout entered the pvc pipe. All that water concentrated in one spot made it come in the basement. It was a record cold winter and maybe even my drain tiles were frozen.

It was a freak occurrence. The other 99% of the time I'm loving how the pipes take away the water without downspout extensions being in the way all the time.
 
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