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Old 01-15-2013, 11:08 AM   #1
MrPulldown OP
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Frozen Pipes in Wall. Did it bust?

Most of the country has been super cold these last few weeks. In Truckee this last wekeend it got to -22F on Saturday night. Monday morning I wake up to find that there is no cold water coming out of the kitchen sink which is upstairs. All other fuacets work. Shut the water off to the house. Go in the crawl space and no signs of water. No sounds in the wall.

Been living in this house for 4 winters and never had a problem. Our house is two stories with most of the living space up stairs but the themostate is downstairs set to about 55. THe pipes to the kitchen sink run up exterior walls. What I think did it was my kids space heater, which is in a downstairs bedroom. Is shares a wall with the thermostate and gives it a flase higher reading. Making the downstairs lower than the set 55 degrees.

Return home thaw out the pipe by cranking the heat and placeing a space heater in the room where the pipe runs up the wall. Finnally thaws late in the evening. Everything seems fine. No water sound inside the wall. Shut the water off go to sleep.

Turn water on this morning. Everything still seems fine. No water at the base of the pipe in the crawl space no water sound in the wall.

Am I free and clear?? Most say that if you had a water pipe bust inthe wall you will know it. If there a test I can do. I left the water on today. I guess I will know when I return home.

Oh BTW it is my birthday and I love crawling aroound under the house first thing in the morning.
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Old 01-15-2013, 11:11 AM   #2
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If you turned the water back on and you had a split pipe you'd probably know quickly.

I helped a buddy that had that happen and it was like a water park when the water came back on lol.

Keep an eye on things though. Happy birthday
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Old 01-15-2013, 11:13 AM   #3
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Turn off all water using systems.
Turn on water.
Watch the water meter for movement or listen to the pipes. You can hear the water move through them.
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Old 01-15-2013, 11:58 AM   #4
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I will try to listen to the pipe again. Hard to get to as the under the sink location did not get me a good "hear". I used a mechanics stethascope. No water meter where I live.
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Old 01-15-2013, 12:17 PM   #5
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While you're crawling around looking at the pipes, bring some pipe insulation with you and cover every pipe you see with the insulation and tape the seams.

I dont think you cracked a pipe. Happy birthday
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Old 01-15-2013, 12:38 PM   #6
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In my experience, ice-split water lines do not weep, they gush. And drywall fails pretty quickly when it has a jet of water aimed at the back side of it.
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Old 01-15-2013, 01:17 PM   #7
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Given you were able to thaw it out just by turning up the heat in the downstairs I would suspect that the ice plug you had was pretty small, and was thus able to expand along the pipe instead of bursting it. All of the broken copper pipes I have dealt with have made themselves known in a hurry- most have been equivalent to having a faucet cranked wide open.

I had one client who's kitchen feed lines froze many times each winter due to poor routing and insulation- and they never broke. When we finally did a remodel on the kitchen and rerouted the plumbing none of the pipe showed even the slightest signs of expansion, leading me to believe that a short frozen area will simply push itself along the inside of the pipe. It's only after the internal friction exceeds the pipe's burst strength that a failure occurs.
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Old 01-15-2013, 01:40 PM   #8
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I would agree if it is not coming out you are safe. I had a similar problem and found out the problem was the water line was actually touching the block wall. The wall was in a heated space under our basement stairs. I put a section of pipe insulation there and never had a problem since.
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Old 01-15-2013, 02:02 PM   #9
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Just wondering.
Copper, galvanized iron, PEX or PVC plastic piping??

Seems you got lucky and only froze a spot in the pipe and the ice was able to expand along the pipe and did not "split" the pipe.
Make positive ALL exposed pipes are wrapped and seams taped. Just the smallest area (even a 1/8 inch space at joints) exposed to freezing weather can cause problems.
Also check for locations that moving cold air can reach pipes. Had an attic pipe line burst at every eave vent location even tho it was partially burried in atic insulation.
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Old 01-15-2013, 02:41 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by holckster View Post
Seems you got lucky and only froze a spot in the pipe and the ice was able to expand along the pipe and did not "split" the pipe.
Make positive ALL exposed pipes are wrapped and seams taped. Just the smallest area (even a 1/8 inch space at joints) exposed to freezing weather can cause problems.
Also check for locations that moving cold air can reach pipes. Had an attic pipe line burst at every eave vent location even tho it was partially burried in atic insulation.
Lived for a year in a really bad rental with some horrible non-code room additions. One day the feed lines to the kitchen froze, and I knew there was no practical way for me to get under the kitchen to thaw them. A plumber had told me that the feed lines and drain were in a common open trench, so I had the idea to pour a large potful of boiling water down the drain, hoping for some heat transfer to the feed lines. After a few seconds I heard a crack and the water started flowing again. Fortunately the ice hadn't split the lines.
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Old 01-15-2013, 04:02 PM   #11
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yep, yer OK. plumbing in an outside wall is a dumb idea in cold country, I've fixed my share.

mid 40s and rain here in Anchorage the last couple 3 days (yes, Alaska) ... well, it dropped to 33 today. water over ice... flooding in the low spots
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Old 01-15-2013, 04:07 PM   #12
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If you know the temps gonna drop, do you know the trick about running a tiny stream of water from the faucet overnight to avoid freezing?
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Old 01-15-2013, 04:31 PM   #13
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I have wrapped the hot water pipes but not the cold. Figure over a prolonged period of time and cold it doesn't really matter they will all freeze. But I think there might be a point. Maybe my pipe did not freeze in the wall but in the crawl space near a vent grate (to the outside), like holckster suggested. I wrapped the hot water so that it takes longer to cool down between hot water openings.

Fuck I guess I will be spending an other few nights down in that shit hole of a crawl space insulating. And it truely is a crawl space. I have spent enough time under there that I might as well lay down some carpet, put in a sound system, and wiring in some lights. But not tonight. I'm drinking beers tonight!!

The house is set up with sweated copper pipes.
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Old 01-15-2013, 05:12 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by MrPulldown View Post
Fuck I guess I will be spending an other few nights down in that shit hole of a crawl space insulating.
I insulated the pipes I could reach when I had my utility chase opened up for other work. I couldn't reach in very far, but what I did was slip split insulation over the pipe where I could reach, then pushed it along the pipe until it hit an obstruction and couldn't go any farther. Had I been thinking, I could have laid some tape along the seam as soon as it closed up, then run a circumferential band of tape every foot or so as I pushed it in. I was insulating more for noise control than thermal loss, though, and frankly didn't think about taping it at the time. Also, I might not have gotten as much pipe insulated owing to tees for other endpoints along the line.
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Old 01-15-2013, 07:38 PM   #15
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