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dougp23 01-03-2013 01:23 PM

Frozen pipe
 
Very cold last night, below zero F.

One pipe in the house must be frozen, there is no water coming out of it. It's the hot water in the kitchen sink (should have left the cabinets open, maybe). I did put a space heater in the cabinet and closed it up, ran it for an hour. Whew, was like a sauna in there!! Still no flow. This house was a foreclosure and clearly, pipes leading to the kitchen sink had frozen as the ceiling downstairs was cut out in that area, and pex had been spliced into the copper to fix the bad parts.

There is no leaking in the basement, at least the sheetrock ceiling isn't showing it yet! How concerned should I be about the pex splice, should I cut open the ceiling or give it more time? If I stick my hand under the kitchen sink where the hot water comes up, I can feel cold air coming up around the pipe, so clearly the insulation in that area isn't up to snuff or I have an air leak to the outside. Oddly, the cold water right next to it did not freeze.

Appreciate any ideas!

joecaption 01-03-2013 01:29 PM

Warm water freeze first, long story why.
Any way to get at it from under the house? Far more likly it's frozen under the house then in a cabinet inside the house.
Are all the vents closed under the house?
Did someone at least insulate the pipes under the house?

dougp23 01-03-2013 03:55 PM

The pipes are in the basement ceiling...which I just finished painting this weekend after mudding and sanding! Still no hot water, so my gut is telling me I will have to cut that ceiling open, see what's up in that area. Maybe a lack of insulation, or a hole where an old gas line came in from outside. But it must be very cold in that area to still not have thawed.

So no, Joe, there is no other access to the pipe other than under the sink, and in the basement ceiling. :(

TheBobmanNH 01-03-2013 03:59 PM

Are you sure there's not just something wrong with your faucet or something silly? I can't see how a single hot water line would freeze if yo uhave an enclosed basement. Other hot water in the house works right? Is the sink on an exterior wall even?

oh'mike 01-03-2013 04:01 PM

bad news---you will need to open the ceiling----first to thaw and check the condition of the pipe and second to find the air leak/lack of insulation.

The last one I had like that ,I found a hole through the rim joist for some long gone pipe--hidden by a deck----

dougp23 01-03-2013 05:08 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by TheBobmanNH (Post 1085482)
Are you sure there's not just something wrong with your faucet or something silly? I can't see how a single hot water line would freeze if yo uhave an enclosed basement. Other hot water in the house works right? Is the sink on an exterior wall even?

I have checked, but it's just me and the wife and she doesn't know how to shut off a valve! So it's nothing silly, unfortunately. No other faucets have any trouble. Sink is on an exterior wall...

dougp23 01-03-2013 05:11 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by oh'mike (Post 1085483)
bad news---you will need to open the ceiling----first to thaw and check the condition of the pipe and second to find the air leak/lack of insulation.

The last one I had like that ,I found a hole through the rim joist for some long gone pipe--hidden by a deck----

Mike, I hate your post ;-) but I am pretty resigned that you are right. If the pipe froze this time, it will freeze next super cold time.

I just worry about that PEX spliced into the copper....it's just a pressure like fitting or something. Hope it's not drip-dripping away in the basement ceiling.

Thaw with a hair dryer, right? Cut with a keyhole saw, lol!

dougp23 01-03-2013 07:41 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Well, cut open the ceiling, and oh yeah, LOTS of cold air coming in. As you can see in the attached picture, for some reason a portion of the wall "bumps out" about 3 or 4 inches. If you reach in where the pipes are and stick your hand down into that bump, LOT of real cold air coming in. Not only that, a few inches beyond the bump is the outside wall. The basement is largely underground with about the top 2 feet exposed. So plugged it all up with insulation (I know the rest of the wall is insulated, the lower half was all exposed when we bought the house, and it was insulated, thinking maybe the insulation "settled" at the top?) . Get the wifey to let me borrow her hair dryer, and in a few minutes, hot water.

No leaks, pipes looked good. Hope I fixed it. Now my nicely finished ceiling looks like crap, lol! :(

AllanJ 01-04-2013 12:27 PM

Before you close up the ceiling, double check and do not have any insulation between the pipe and the living space, namely don't put a layer of insulation between the pipe and the new ceiling drywall.

dougp23 01-04-2013 03:06 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by AllanJ (Post 1086047)
Before you close up the ceiling, double check and do not have any insulation between the pipe and the living space, namely don't put a layer of insulation between the pipe and the new ceiling drywall.

Thanks. Is that to give the pipes heat from the living space?

AllanJ 01-05-2013 12:14 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by dougp23 (Post 1086189)
Thanks. Is that to give the pipes heat from the living space?

Yes.

For this reason I recommend putting pipes in exterior walls in front of the insulation instead of nestled within the insulation. For new work, either slide the insulation behind the pipe or cut a V shaped notch, as wide as the pipe is deep, out of the insulation batt so as to expose the pipe.


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