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Hello everyone -

I'm looking for creative ideas to avoid the expensive fix. Every winter I have been getting frozen pipes that affect the faucet and washer in the first floor 1/2 bath of my house. The bathroom is part of 2 year old addition completed by the previous owner. The first floor pipes for the house are accessed via the basement. Unfortunately, when constructing the addition, the contractor cut holes in brick foundation just large enough to extend the electrical conduit and piping from the main portion of the house to the addition. The extensions were then completed prior to installing the floor. As a result I have no way off accessing the crawl space that holds these pipes underneath this portion of the house. The addition is 2 years old and I have had 2 straight winters of frozen pipes. My temporary solution is to redirect the ductwork in the bathroom so that it heats the crawl space rather than the half bath. More recently, I installed a small space heater (programmed to turn on only when the temperature dips below 45 degrees) which points at the tiny openings in the brick foundation with the hopes that it will allow enough heat through to prevent the pipes from freezing. I also take the normal precautions of dripping the faucet when the temperatures drop; however, this can not be done with the washer.

Does anyone have any long term solutions besides ripping up the floors to better insulate the pipes? I have considered knocking out a couple of bricks in the foundation to allow more heat through from the space heater but am not sure if this is a wise idea.

Thanks for your help!
 

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That's a tough one---is there a closet in the addition that could have a hatch cut in?
 

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You need to get heat to the pipes or move the pipes to heated space.
Can the pipes be brought up into the wall and then the new space before they enter the cold crawl space?
 

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You need access--if the pipes burst--it will become an emergency---
 

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Does the addition have a crawl space, not on a slab?
If so then there should have been an access door anyway, from the outside or from the basement.
 

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Remove the brick foundation...but don't forget to insert heavy angle iron or similar support under the joists. Do it in such a way that you leave support pillars if a long span. A 2' x 3' hole should be sufficient to allow ambient air from the basement to prevent frezzing in the crawl space. If you don't want to heat the crawl space then use pipe wrap controlled by thermostat.
 

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You need to make an access----if those pipes burst---the plumber will make one with a saws-all and a hammer----better to plan it.
 

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2 years of freezing pipes and none have burst !! you have been extremely lucky. What kind of floor is it?
 

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Use a grinder to chip away at the bricks. Search home made dust catcher, using a shop vac and washable filter such as Clean-stream.
For a standard foundation house, rim joist and floor joist should be sitting on the foundation (on a sill plate). The access hole should not be more than 30" or so, such that the rim joist is supporting no more than a single floor joist. This is the way to do it if you are not sure about how much load the rim can carry. Make sure there is no post or concentrated load point from above.
Take your time to do something about that cold space. Tube insulations will not be enough. I think it would need at least 4" of spray foam around the pipe, without heating the space around it. Check any possible draft points around the pipe, and seal with caulk or foam even if you don't see it. Any joint is possible point.
 

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I'm surprised nobody has asked where you live. That certainly might affect any suggested solutions. Regardless of that, you need to somehow create an access to the crawl space. How tall is it? Are there foundation vents? If so, do you close them in the winter?

It sounds to me like this addition was poorly done. Is the floor in that area insulated? That's required here, at least R-30. My water lines run in the joist bays, so are covered by the insulation.
 

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You have to create access to the crawl space either thru the floor or a wall. Now you can do it the easy way whichever you choose. After one of the pipes burst I can guarantee you whoever comes to fix the pipe won't be gentle.
 

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Yes, most I know will they carry sawmills and sledge hammers to bust into walls and such to gain access. But that's as far as they go getting the damage repaired is on you.
 
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