Tuesday, December 23, 2008

What Do You Do When Your Pipes Freeze?

I've had several people ask me this question, so I thought it might deserve it's own post.
I'm not sure if there is a way you are SUPPOSED to do things, but I'll tell you how we deal with it when our pipes freeze.
Well, I do know one universal thing you're SUPPOSED to do: do all you can to prevent it from happening.
Well, we tried it. In the weeks after Nathan was born, Paul and his dad and my dad did lots of plumbing work, rerouting some pipes and in general fixing the (half-ass) job that the people before had done.
(And just so you know, if it's in parenthesis, it doesn't count as saying it.)
And all last winter, we never had any trouble with the pipes. I counted part of that from me being home all the time, so the house was warmer and the water was being used all day.
So what we do is this: wait.
We put Nathan's room heater in the bathroom and opened up the cabinet doors so the warm air could get to those pipes. We turn the taps on so they're open, giving the water the chance to flow (if you can get a trickle, a lot of time, that will flush the frozen-ness out). But it didn't seem to do anything this time.
The tub opened up just before we went to bed Sunday night. The bathroom sink was working when Paul got up for work Monday morning. Sometime mid-morning the toilet started working again; about the same time, the tub's cold water came back on. But we didn't have hot water in the kitchen until this morning. (Which provided a lovely excuse for me not cleaning the kitchen!)
The other thing you do is this: pray!
When after about 5 hours of running the heater and having the taps open and nothing was happening, we discussed running in to Orscheln to get a milk barn heater to put in the cellar, but we decided that that would probably warm things up too quickly, causing pipes to break. Which would not be cool.
But we are fully operational now, just in time for the freezing rain that has started.
Merry Christmas.


Carol said...

I thought I was the only person who had that problem. Where do you live? I am from Iowa and live in a little OLD house and we froze last week. The wind chill was 40 below! I actually had hot water in the tap and poured hot water in the dishwasher to get it going. I don't think I ever had a frozen up dishwasher before. I turn on the oven in the kitchen and open up the doors under the sink!

Rachel said...

I thought I'd add to this post, judging by the number of hits I get on it every winter....
We did end up getting that milk barn heater to put in the cellar. It seems to heat things up just enough, but it definitely doesn't warm it up to "toasty." We also have two heat lamps that we put a regular bulb in and point it at the frozen part of the pipe - again, just enough warmth to speed things along, without warming it up so quickly it cracks.
We keep adding insulation, and it seems like the days we have problems are when it gets cold (below 20) with a howling north or northwest wind. There's got to be something else we can do to keep those drafts from freezing stuff, but I don't know what it is.