Monday, January 21, 2008

well that just freezes my ass

Bruno? Lin? Maybe you'll have answers to this one for me. I worked nightshift over the weekend and it's been in the single digits here. The boss told me to let the water run slightly so the pipes wouldn't freeze in the upstairs bath. I *thought* I was supposed to let the cold drip because that was the one that was more likely to freeze and she said she thought that was right, too. (Knock wood, we haven't had problems with pipes freezing even when it gets to be in the 40's in our place. I'm thinking because our water pipes run right past the furnace and probably heat up quickly, but this is why I was unsure of which spigot to let drip.)
Anywho, the first two nights, I didn't have a problem. Last night, however, the HOT WATER froze. The cold water was running on all three floors and the hot was running on the lower two. (She has a gas water heater that is always heating. It's not on any sort of timer.)

I'm thinking--and this is what I'm not sure about--that if she loosened the pressure on the spigot upstairs and waited until the day warmed up, the pipe would probably unfreeze on it's own and that she wouldn't even have to bother to call anyone in to unthaw it. Is that correct or will allowing it to unthaw like that cause problems?

I don't understand why it freezes on the HOTTEST floor? Hot air rises and the upstairs bathroom is always one of the warmest rooms in the house. Is it because the water has to travel the farther to the third floor?
The pipe involved is on an INside wall in the bathroom, but when it comes downstairs, it's on an outside wall for the first floor, then inside again in the basement. Strange thing is that when I first began working there, the pipe was on an outside wall in the bathroom and we had no problems whatsoever. Then the boss hired some two bit jackass to re-do her bathroom and he moved the pipe to the other side (the inside wall) for a shower, and we've had problems ever since. Two years ago he came and SUPPOSEDLY wrapped the pipe with insulation and the wire that heats up and it was turned "on," but it still froze. Ok, help!

11 comments:

Dustin said...

Well, hot water freezes faster than cold does anyways. Something about the molecules moving faster, I dunno. So maybe that is part of the problem there?

*Goddess* said...

Well, damn it, I thought it was the other way around! I should have paid more attention in science class....

Mushy said...

All I know is, you sure have one hell of a trailer! Three floors?

BRUNO said...

No, I think the comment about the hot water freezing faster is, indeed, true---but I don't know why, either! But the molecule explanation sounds good to me!

I DO know, from past experience, that even a 20-foot length of garden hose with COLD water, will not freeze at 24-below, if you keep the flow-stream from the faucet to at least the "relative size" of a standard pencil.

The spots where I always had freeze-points was usually wherever there had been an "L", or a "T"-joint union installed, especially where there were cracks in the foundations to the outside.

I'm curious, however. Why does her water heater run continuously? Does she use it for heating purposes, as with a radiator-type system? If not, it sounds as though her COLD water pipes are syphoning her HOT water in a continuous circle within the entire system. No wonder the bill is outta sight!

BTW, the solution to MY freezing problem was to re-locate the replacement pipe.(Don't ever re-use a once-frozen PVC pipe! CPVC, for HOT water use, maybe---but NEVER PVC! They'll bust like a cheap rubber!) Sometimes just moving it an inch farther away from the wall will make all the difference. Also: Split-length foam tubing insulation. It's CHEAP, it generally comes in 10-to-15 foot sections, and it's so simple to install that even George W. Bush could put it on the pipe, and NOT fuck-up...!

*Goddess* said...

No, Mushy, this is the building where I work.

*Goddess* said...

When I said the water heater "ran continuously", Bruno, what I meant was it's not on a timer, so I knew it was heating during the night. At that point, I didn't realize hot water froze faster. I was thinking that since it's heating, it's not going to freeze. We have ours on a timer and only turn it on 20 minutes or so (depending on whether it's winter or summer) before we need the hot water.

So which faucet should I leave drip? Both hot and cold?

~Fathairybastard~ said...

Totally without a clue, so I'll just quietly slink away and worry about my own pipes. Thanks.

BRUNO said...

OK, I gotcha on the "timer" thing, I know "where ya' comin' from" now!

As for leaving it(them?)drip? In this particular case, and since hopefully this "deep-freeze" will break a bit---I'd opt for leaving BOTH open a bit, yes. So put a "chalk-mark" on the wall for another "Goddess-self-help" victory!

BUT---IF one, or either, pipe does freeze: While it's thawing, be sure to leave one of the taps AFTER the frozen spot OPEN, at least a bit. Not always, but many times, that "thawing-frozen-pipe" has, in the past for me, busted wide-open from the expansion of the ice inside---especially STEEL piping. PVC, and/or CPVC isn't nearly as likely to do so, but still, keep an "eye-peeled" while it's thawing, just in case...

BRUNO said...

(Hey JEFF---Flomax, dude! But don't use a drill-"rooter"! I don't think they make 'em in 4-inch caucasian anymore, anyhow---probably have to special order it...?

Sorry! I just couldn't resist an "Achilles heel" breech like that!!!

*Goddess* said...

Yeah, leaving the spigot "open" was the one thing I remembered to do as I was walking out the door. As soon as I twisted it and heard the "pressure sigh," I left it at that because I was afraid it might explode the pipe when it was unthawing.

BRUNO said...

That's a GOOD girl! I KNEW you had it in ya', somewhere!

That "pressure-sigh" was exactly what you wanted to hear from a pipe in the process of thawing. I don't understand the full physics thing behind it, either. But I do know that if you don't open that spigot, then you had better know where the main shut-off valve is---as well as a VERY good string-mop, with a bucket wringer...!