Author Topic: Frozen drain trick  (Read 837 times)

Offline klickitat jim

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Frozen drain trick
« on: January 10, 2017, 12:53:31 AM »
My shower drains froze the other day. Weeks of below freezing temps can do that. Like -10 every day and never topping 20...

So I'm gathering crap I might need once a crawl down there and I see my hand warmers I take fishing. Hmmm mm

Open, shake to activate, then just sit it on top of the P-Trap. By the time you get out from under the house your drain should be thawed and flowing again.

Way better than open flames, and easier than dragging electric cord and heat gun.

Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: Frozen drain trick
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2017, 12:55:34 AM »
Great idea. I like it.
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Offline cascadesrunner

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Re: Frozen drain trick
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2017, 05:18:10 AM »
Any way to insulate that while you're down there?  Probably, be an uphill battle if the severe cold is sustained, but might buy you a little more time...
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Offline pete b

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Re: Frozen drain trick
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2017, 01:06:25 PM »
Any way to insulate that while you're down there?  Probably, be an uphill battle if the severe cold is sustained, but might buy you a little more time...
Yea, that seems like the long term solution.
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Offline klickitat jim

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Re: Frozen drain trick
« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2017, 03:26:34 PM »
This was only a tip for thawing. Hand warmers only stay warm about 10 hrs. They won't keep the pipes thawed forever.

Offline Visor

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Re: Frozen drain trick
« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2017, 05:29:34 PM »
  I'd be surprised if your hand warmers generate enough BTU's to have much effect, a hair dryer or heat gun on low requires more time and effort on your part, but they will definitely get the job done. The trick is knowing exactly where the drain line is frozen so you can focus efforts on the problem spot. One thing to keep in mind if your drain pipe is PVC, the melting point of PVC is only about 180 degrees. 
   it is a bit unusual for the drain to freeze before the water lines. The best preventative for the future is to insulate both water and drain lines. If your typical winter weather doesn't justify the expense and effort, simply keep a pencil sized stream of water running when the risk of freeze-up is high. Too small of a stream of water may keep the inlet from freezing but not the drain, in which case you wind up with a real mess. 
« Last Edit: January 10, 2017, 05:36:16 PM by Visor »
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Offline Slowbrew

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Re: Frozen drain trick
« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2017, 05:32:31 PM »
Depending on how often the problem happens you have levels of effort to think about.

Once every couple, three years?  Wrap the pipes in insulation and make sure the warm side (i.e. the house) is exposed inside the bundle to allow heat to get in around the pipe.

More than once ever year?  I'd install heat tape around the pipe and wire it to switch (maybe a thermostat) in addition to the insulation.

I rented a house many years ago that had a crawl space where the pipes would freeze up.  It was never a good day when it happened.

Good luck Jim!!

Paul
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Offline klickitat jim

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Re: Frozen drain trick
« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2017, 07:52:35 PM »


  I'd be surprised if your hand warmers generate enough BTU's to have much effect,

This is not something I'm considering doing. I already did it. I just thought it's the time of year for freezing drains and maybe someone might benefit from this idea, which works, that I stumbled on.

So my house is a 10 year old double wide. All water pipes are fully insulated. Drain pipes are not. The only place where water remains stationary is in the shower drains traps. Really easy to guess where the blockage is.

As to insulation, I get it. In ten years this is the first time it's happened. It's on my list of things to do.

Anyway. I just thought it was an easy quick safe way, and maybe it would help someone else by sharing.

Offline pete b

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Re: Frozen drain trick
« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2017, 09:05:12 PM »


  I'd be surprised if your hand warmers generate enough BTU's to have much effect,

This is not something I'm considering doing. I already did it. I just thought it's the time of year for freezing drains and maybe someone might benefit from this idea, which works, that I stumbled on.

So my house is a 10 year old double wide. All water pipes are fully insulated. Drain pipes are not. The only place where water remains stationary is in the shower drains traps. Really easy to guess where the blockage is.

As to insulation, I get it. In ten years this is the first time it's happened. It's on my list of things to do.

Anyway. I just thought it was an easy quick safe way, and maybe it would help someone else by sharing.
You need to understand Jim that we're home brewers. You share information and we'll tell you what's wrong with it, how we would do it better, and assume that you don't even know what the real problem is. ;)
Don't let the bastards cheer you up.

Offline klickitat jim

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Re: Frozen drain trick
« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2017, 09:40:38 PM »
No doubt, right?

Offline Slowbrew

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Re: Frozen drain trick
« Reply #10 on: January 10, 2017, 10:03:00 PM »
Exactly!  You didn't ask for our help but here it is anyway...

My Dad, Uncles, Mother, Aunts, older brothers and sisters all taught me that. 

 ;D ::)

Paul
Where the heck are we going?  And what's with this hand basket?

Offline klickitat jim

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Re: Frozen drain trick
« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2017, 10:36:15 PM »
It's all good.