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Homeowner2010 01-28-2010 09:14 PM

How many Plumbers does it take to screw in a light bulb? Frozen pipes again...
 
How many Plumbers will it take to screw in a light bulb? The question requires serious consideration. Background: Our pipes to washer machine froze twice: first time plumbers thawed them w/torch (and they busted but plumbers put them back together), then they installed heat tape. They installed 12-ft tape over two separate pipes (going from one pipe then over to the other). They tape directions state not to do that. Question: (1) Should we really be concerned or let it be and hope they don't bust or cause other problems? (2) Any suggestions or tips if we have plumbers re-route pipes this spring so that they are not exposed in attic? Someone mentioned a pipe that will 'never' bust when frozen/thawed? P.S. Our area does not require plumbers to be licensed and many are not, so homeowners are left to entrust their pipes with the best plumber they can find. :confused:

travelover 01-29-2010 06:12 AM

To be clear - The pipes that broke are in your attic and are not in an outside wall? Are other pipes in an outside wall? Is the attic insulated?

Redwood 01-29-2010 09:25 AM

Can we get a picture or, series of pictures showing the heat tape installation?

The pipe does not break when thawing.
The pipe breaks when it freezes. sometimes at the first sign of freezing if you get them thawed they won't burst.
Water expands when it freezes and the force it exerts can be up to 40,000-psi.
That will break almost any pipe unless it can expand enough to absorb the expansion without breaking.
Once the ice thaws and water can flow through the burst area is when you'll find the leak. Not when it was made!

I don't really like the idea of using a torch to thaw pipe. I use a electric pipe thawing machine that sends low voltage, high amperage electric current through the frozen area heating the copper pipe and thawing it. Much safer!

On non-metallic pipes a hair dryer is safe.

Homeowner2010 01-29-2010 08:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by travelover (Post 39744)
To be clear - The pipes that broke are in your attic and are not in an outside wall? Are other pipes in an outside wall? Is the attic insulated?

Correct. Other pipes in home go directly to water heater/softner. Just pipes to the washer machine go into attic. We did not build this home so I cannot explain the reasonsing.

PROBLEM RESOLVED: Plumbers came back out today (no charge). They re-mapped the heat tape based on my observation. I noticed that the heat tape senors were placed on the end of the pipes in laundry room, but the sensors should be on the END of the pipe that was up in the attic. In other words, the heat tape shut off when it sensed that part of the pipe (in warmer part of home) indicated pipe was warm, while up in the attic that end of the pipe was freezing. LESSON: Be sure the plumbers, or do-it-yourselfers, know to put the sensor on the area of the pipe exposed to the coldest climate. The directions do not say that because heat tape instructions assume the pipes are in one contained area rather than from one room into another (e.g. laundry room into attic or basement).

Thanks everyone! Your posts helped me ask the plumbers the right questions.

Redwood 01-30-2010 07:27 AM

Homeowner, I would still be interested in seeing some pictures of the installation because there are limitations on the use of heat tape near combustibles such as wood. The point you bring about the heat tape being in the laundry room and attic makes me wonder how it can pass from one room to another with out being an improper installation.

jonbweb2 02-19-2010 12:19 PM

Pipe Thawing
 
I would definitely agree that thawing a pipe with a torch is not the best idea. Like one already said, there are special pipe thawing electrical blankets that are perfectly suited to this purpose.

jasondude 03-05-2010 07:12 AM

God job you were in the forum.. Or else you wouldnt have know wtf to ask.. ;-)

Speedbump 03-05-2010 07:56 AM

Quote:

I don't really like the idea of using a torch to thaw pipe. I use a electric pipe thawing machine that sends low voltage, high amperage electric current through the frozen area heating the copper pipe and thawing it. Much safer!
Or a 350 amp arc welder with long leads. "Did I say that out loud"?

Redwood 03-05-2010 11:21 AM

Don't say it too loud...

It works but the only place I would use it is on the service line in from the street.

The amperage is right but welders use a much higher voltage than the pipe thawing machines.

If a fitting was pushed off the pipe by the freezing which is not all that uncommon you could get an arc going causing a fire...

Underground on the service line that wouldn't be a problem.

LOL at the spammer dropping the electric blanket link...:trophy:

Speedbump 03-06-2010 07:30 AM

Years ago, my Dad worked for the City of Pontiac, MI. water department among other things. That's how the City thawed out all their frozen water services. People would drive on their lawns, or shovel the snow over the line for some reason then walk on it a lot. All these things drive the frost down deeper.

I know it wasn't too good for the welder, but hey, it beat the heck out of digging through 6 foot of frost with a pick and shovel.

I also used steamers when I was quite young (back in the dark ages). They worked great too.


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