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dwell-right 01-09-2013 06:09 AM

Best option for frozen crawl space.
Temporary until spring when I get under the house and condition the crawl space.

I'm a little overwhelmed with options and was hoping some of you may be able to point me in the safest direction. I have a 200 yr old colonial (bought in June of 12) with an addition to the back of the house, about 200sq ft. and a very small entrance to the crawl space under it.

This addition houses a bathtub and laundry drain with the plumbing on the OUTSIDE wall.....idiots. Needless to say it's frozen. I don't need the tub but the drain to the washing machine is much needed and the drain is frozen so I want to thaw and warm this small crawl space.

Was thinking a small ceramic space heater????

Thanks in advance for any guidance. Safety is top priority.

oh'mike 01-09-2013 06:42 AM

Moved from 'electric' to 'general'

Are there any heat ducts down there?

Open outside vents?

The more details you add, the better the answers will be----

bbo 01-09-2013 07:16 AM

temporary till spring? heat tape might work.

joecaption 01-09-2013 07:20 AM

And go back and add your location to your profile.

dwell-right 01-09-2013 07:28 AM

"This addition houses a bathtub and laundry drain" Nothing additional in the crawl space.
Thanks again.

dwell-right 01-09-2013 07:36 AM


Originally Posted by bbo (Post 1089571)
temporary till spring? heat tape might work.

VERY very small access. Only accessible with my arms, enough to slide in some heating source. Not enough room to work a heat tape solution. I will remodel this area in the spring but must thaw the drains for a couple of more months.


DexterII 01-09-2013 07:48 AM

Possible to cut out a section of floor large enough for you to squeeze down there, or at least large enough to get some insulation around the lines?

dwell-right 01-09-2013 08:03 AM


Originally Posted by DexterII (Post 1089588)
Possible to cut out a section of floor large enough for you to squeeze down there, or at least large enough to get some insulation around the lines?

This is a usable and active bathroom. Not planing on tearing anything up until spring.

I guess my only question is; does anyone have a "heating" source idea?

rrolleston 01-09-2013 08:46 AM

Either a heat gun or old hair dryer works great for thawing out pipes in hard to reach areas.

Gymschu 01-09-2013 12:02 PM

The problem with a temporary heat source such as a ceramic heater is the level of danger involved. They tip over, critters could get in there and knock it over, you have an extension cord running the thing, etc. Big, big fire hazard.

SeniorSitizen 01-09-2013 12:10 PM

Straw banked up against the foundation about 2 ft. thick and on a 45 angle for drainage will work until spring. The deeper the better. With a heat source in the room, give it a few hours to thaw. Been there done that on old houses, it works.

Missouri Bound 01-09-2013 12:36 PM

Not knowing the specifics of your space I offer this suggestion for you to consider...but no guarantee's
I once had a similar problem with frozen pipes in a crawl space. What I did to thaw initially was put a small kerosene fired torpedo heater in to area. These create a great amound of heat and work quickly. I need to stress that I was able to monitor this action CONTINUALLY until the pipes thawed. These types of heaters work very well and unfortunately are also capable of causing fires and should not be left unattended. After the water was restored I began insulating both the pipes and the perimeter and used heat tapes to keep the pipes from using.
I wish you the best of luck:wink:

danpik 01-09-2013 01:30 PM

What is the foundation like? Are there air leaks you can get to from the outside? You would be surprised at how much cold air can get thru a small hole. I had to do this on an older house I had. I went down in the basement one bright sunny day and blocked off all windows so it was completly dark. I was then able to see where all the leaks were. It took 4 cans of great stuff to seal up all the leaks around the perimeter. The comfort level went up so much down there that I was able shut off the heat vents feeding the basement. (had three 6 x 9 vents fully open). Anyway, you could do the opposite. Wait till night time, put a couple of big floodlights in the opening and check from the outside and look for the light.

How tall is the crawl space? Could you make the opening bigger? (I assume it is thru the wall from the basement) If it still persists as a problem you could wire in a temporary 240 volt heat strip. You could also use one of the liquid filled electrical heaters that run on 120

rrolleston 01-09-2013 04:51 PM

For our incoming water pipes I made a wooden 12x12 box the length of the pipe and put 1" foam on all four sides and sealed all the gaps with expanding foam adhesive. No frozen pipes in the crawl space and we had almost -20 a few nights ago.

Only frozen pipes we had was when our dryer vent stuck open and the pipe going by the dryer vent inside froze.

J Thomas 01-10-2013 10:58 AM

The hay banking that Fairview mentioned would add some insulation but to get heat in there, without a fire danger is the issue..
Is there forced hot air anywhere in the house?? If so could you duct some of the air thru a dryer hose down thru the floor in the area of the drain?
If the room above is heated you might use a muffin fan to do the same just take the warmer air from the ceiling & push it down to the crawl space.
I'm trying to stay away from electrics here since it will prolly run at night..
Good luck... frozen plumbing sux...BTDT..

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