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Frozen Pipes

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Old 01-26-2018, 09:59 AM   #1
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Frozen Pipes

I have a customer with a Jacuzzi sandwiched between two vanities in the master bath. That is all up against an outside wall and there is an unheated garage below. There are a bunch of pipes under there and they froze again. So I'm over there fixing his garage ceiling again. Not much damage in the bathroom because the plumbing repairs were done through the bottom of the vanity. Last time, he asked me about insulating the pipes, but I declined. There is no access. I could try to shoot some insulation in there or whatever, but that might just trap the cold air further under the Jacuzzi and make a bigger problem. I don't want to be responsible for it. The house was unoccupied last time, so the thermostat was turned way down. He decided to nothing about the insulation. But now that this happened again, we really need to find a solution. I stuck a lighter in there and there is clearly a strong draft from outside. Probably a little caulk in the right place would do wonders, but I don't want to touch it with a 10 foot pole. Is that a job for a plumber? Where should I send him?
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Old 01-26-2018, 10:03 AM   #2
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Re: Frozen Pipes

An insulation / home energy company - biggest issue is stop the drafts, that kills more pipes than the simple cold. They might also consider some heat tape
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hdavis (01-26-2018)
Old 01-26-2018, 10:10 AM   #3
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Re: Frozen Pipes

Or a handyman. Seriously.

To do the job right, most likely you'll need to make access, do the work and then repair the demolition. Multiple skills required.
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Old 01-26-2018, 12:46 PM   #4
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Re: Frozen Pipes

Handyman or someone who does remodels.
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Old 01-26-2018, 01:06 PM   #5
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Re: Frozen Pipes

Yep, cut that sucker open, and seal it up, not a big deal really.
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Old 01-26-2018, 02:09 PM   #6
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Re: Frozen Pipes

i have an outside hot tub, in south dakota where it gets -30 on occasion. i live on a lake facing NW, "our prevailing winds in winter". facing two miles of ice.

i bought it from a dealer that came highly recommended, was installed properly, and he does a bi-annual maintenance.

you're talking about an inside unit that's freezing. sounds to me like an install problem. find out what the problem is...and bid to fix it properly, or step away.

if you don't, and it continues to freeze up, it's yours forever.

good luck
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Old 01-26-2018, 05:02 PM   #7
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Re: Frozen Pipes

So if you are fixing the garage ceiling that was damaged, and needs repair, where is the issue with insulating the pipes above, do it from below the tub like the rest of us would do! You should have lots of access that way on MOST tubs! After the insulation, then drywall as needed, paint, etc..
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Old 01-26-2018, 06:16 PM   #8
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Re: Frozen Pipes

Depending on when the tub goes in, it's not uncommon for the walls behind the tub to be missing insulation (or for it to be poorly installed).

That's not something that you're going to be able to address from below.
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Old 01-26-2018, 06:27 PM   #9
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Re: Frozen Pipes

That is when you take a saw of your choice, a step-ladder, and get down and dirty. Cut the sub-floor that is above you, and inspect the situation. YES, you may be in a "opps", but you never know unless you dig into the issue and LOOK. Most times, if you do your home-work, cut in the correct area, look with a light, you might and will have a way to fix the problem. YES you will be saying a few words that ya may not want to be saying at your Sunday Church Service?
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Old 01-26-2018, 08:48 PM   #10
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Re: Frozen Pipes

Making access from the top is not a great option because everything is tiled and the repair would never match. Making access from below is not a bad idea, but there is a ton of framing. I pretty much already decided I don't want to mess with it. I could open it up. Maybe I could find a problem and fix it. But is it THE problem? I dunno. That's my issue.

If I had to do it, I'd try to improvise some kind of smoke test. I think that would find the air leak pretty quickly. But that is totally shooting from the hip. Better to leave it to somebody who actually knows what he's doing.

I'm going to recommend the home energy company.
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Old 01-28-2018, 01:52 PM   #11
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Re: Frozen Pipes

I just helped out a friend who had pipes run in their attic (in NJ) when they had an addition built many years ago. (I would never run pipes in an attic.)

Anyway, for 10 years they'd leave their pull down attic stairs open and crank the heat in the room below anytime it was cold outside.

After they froze and we fixed the drywall and changed the flooring, then properly insulated the pipes by removing all the insulation below and adding insulation above I spent $12 on little weather station with a remote for outside, sat the remote on top of the pipes under the insulation and now they can see the temp around their pipes all the time and not be nervous and heat their attic. (Usually doesn't drop below 50 degrees and the battery has lasted 3 years.)

The point is, we fixed it right but for an extra $12 gave them piece of mind or what could be an early alert if something does get close to freezing.
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Old 01-28-2018, 02:51 PM   #12
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Re: Frozen Pipes

Fix the garage doors, up grade the seals and insulation.....
Don't reinstall drywall under the soon to freeze pipes, use some removable products dropped down to create an additional insulated(use WATERPROOF insulation products) with a catch pan and alarm....

Vacation home and Jacuzzi, and this tightwad won't spend a few bucks to prevent black mold and a tear down?

Farmer Bob would install some, at least two, 40-25 Watt 130 Volt light bulb/heater in the cavity run off a ~60 Degrees Fahrenheit thermostatic switch.

Add a hot air run to the Jacuzzi box to heat the Tub and reduce freeze ups. Doesn't do much if the heat is set to ~40 degrees.

Final freebie, install an instant hot water pump on the jacuzzi hot water line that back feeds through cold, it will heat the space if the hot water is not turn completely off.......
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Last edited by Fouthgeneration; 01-28-2018 at 02:53 PM.
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Old 01-29-2018, 06:22 AM   #13
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Re: Frozen Pipes

A ton of framing around where you can open it up from below?


Remove the drywall from the ceiling below...all of it. Then get a foam pack for closed cell or open cell insulation. That is the 20 lb bottle and it is a one shot, meaning you use it all at once. They have a long tube applicator available so you could seal the entire bottom and sides of the Jacuzzi tub and the plumbing, and get the air leak at the same time.

Downside is the plumbing needs to be good, as you won't get to see it again, upside is you now have it sealed like a hot tub. The tub will not cool quickly when used, a complaint many tub users have unless it has a heater. If it indeed has a heater, then the only option would be demo the tile and remove the tub, and then do it the way it should have been done in the original install.

If you are not comfortable with this, then walk away or do the polite thing, and refer the job to a qualified contractor. You keep the client happy, and they get a better qualified contractor and will remember you as being honest about your own limitations, rather then you getting the blame when it freezes again.
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Old 01-29-2018, 09:34 AM   #14
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Re: Frozen Pipes

I would keep fixing the frozen pipes and laughing all the way to the bank.
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Old 02-01-2018, 08:05 AM   #15
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Re: Frozen Pipes

Originally Posted by SLSTech View Post
An insulation / home energy company - biggest issue is stop the drafts, that kills more pipes than the simple cold. They might also consider some heat tape
For more on this:
Very true. Good advice


Last edited by Tinstaafl; 02-01-2018 at 08:11 AM. Reason: Remove link
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Old 02-05-2018, 10:12 AM   #16
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Re: Frozen Pipes

Originally Posted by Chenyi View Post
I stuck a lighter in there.
Donít stick lighters in any enclosed space, you donít know whatís in there, and even when you do know. Itís a bad practice, test for air movement with dust or toilet paper.


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