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Ugh . . . frozen pipe

AFwife Claire

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And of course DH is TDY for the week in D.C.  Sigh.

We just moved here to Ohio in August, so this is our first winter in this (40 year old) house.  I was a little worried about the kitchen sink, but it was fine.  Instead, it is our master shower that is frozen.  The faucet isn't on an outside wall, and the bathroom stays really warm at night with the door closed, so it never even crossed my mind to be concerned or to leave it dripping.  

There is a panel in the ceiling in the basement room right under our bathroom.  I'm assuming this is because the previous owners had problems here, although they didn't say anything to us.  I took the panel off, and I can see the pipes coming out of the utility room toward the wall, and then they turn to go up the outside wall, so I guess there is a short section along the outside wall, and that is where the frozen part is.  I blew a hair dryer at the turn up in the ceiling for awhile, and I also blew the hair dryer at the wall in the shower for awhile.  I put a space heater in the basement room to see if I can get it even warmer, but I don't think that's going to really help the pipes along the outside of the house where the problem must be.   Any other ideas to try??  It's so frustrating!  I just wished the previous owners had given us some warning so we knew what to look out for.  Sigh.

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Leave the tap in the shower open a bit so that you will know when the water starts to flow. Then get as comfortable as you can and blow the hairdryer at the pipes. Takes for-e-ver. 

Once it is going, leave the panel off and put some towels down so that you can check after a while to see if anything is leaking. 

What a pain! Sorry you have to deal with it.

Edited by SusanC
Picture in my head was worth a few more words
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Years ago we bought our a townhouse and it had a pipe heater.  The owner told us: "My dad installed that because he's a worrier.  You don't need it."

 Well we forgot about it because we took her at her word and ended up with frozen pipes.  Talking to neighbors it ends up every unit struggled with this every year including the previous owners and that's why the pipe heater was installed.

Hope you thaw out with no problems!


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Can you get a lamp with incandescent bulb at close range to shine on (and heat) the problem area?

 I have a spot that tends to freeze and do use the hair dryer approach.  

ETA But if too frozen it can be impossible to solve till weather warms.  

Edited by Pen
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Leave the shower on!  If pipes burst, it’s not in the frozen section, but the section between the frozen part and the closed faucet.  The air pressure there causes the break.  

Last winter was our first in our house.  Our bathroom sinks are on an outside wall.  I thought if I left the hot dripping in my sink and cold in dh’s, we would be fine.  Woke up to dh’s hot water frozen.  No way to blow dry it.  I left the faucet opened.  I did some research and found that running the nearest faucet can help. I ran the hot in my sink for a bit and it finally started flowing again.  All that to say, look for the nearest faucet and let it run. The extra on your water bill will be cheaper than a repair.

Edited by athena1277
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Is there any access panel on thebackside of the wall where the shower is to get at the valve?  open that obviously if you find, or make, that access panel.  If you have access to the back of that wall, cut an access in the drywall, make it square enough that you can put the piece right back with trim covering the cut. 

Use a fan blowing at whatever pipes are exposed in the basement.  Turn the heat up a little in the house.  If you have a cold air intake into the furnace, open that damper up all the way and leave your furnace blower running.  Figure out where the water shut off is before you need it. 

There's no reason to have frozen pipes in a 40 year old house, somebody wasn't paying attention when they designed or installed the plumbing, or maybe insulation and air sealing. 

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Oh man,  this has been the craziest day.  After much blowing with the hair dryer (I fried it, sadly) and maneuvering space heaters around, etc., the pipe finally thawed and water came out of the shower.  Yay!

Except that I wasn't right there when it happened, and when I came up maybe 15 minutes later, the bottom of our shower (which is tiny) had completely filled up and was overflowing all over the bathroom floor.  Ack!  I turned it off, mopped everything up--but the shower drain was also frozen.  What on earth?!?  I have never even heard of such a thing!  Eventually my dad had to come over with his shop vac to suck up all the water in the shower, and then he poured hot water down the drain, a cup at a time, while trying to snake it. It took him almost 2 hours to get it to drain.  😳  And the flood caused water to get down into the basement room underneath our bathroom.  Gah.  I am really ready for this day to be over!  Hopefully tomorrow will be a better one!

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7 hours ago, Arctic Mama said:

Oh my goodness that is awful.  I’ve never heard of a drain freezing either, who the heck constructed that home?!


I’m so sorry you’re skunked and miserable with the house stuff right now.  Thankfully tomorrow night is going to be warmer and hopefully this won’t happen again.  Sheeeesh.  I’ll be over by you tomorrow night too. Let me know if you want to go grab some food and complain about frozen pipe stupidity 🥺

It's a "Spicer" home, built in the late 70's.  I'm definitely not impressed!  It's a tri-level, and the back top part overhangs the bottom part by a good foot and a half.  That's what is causing all the problems, I think.  Things to think about if we ever build our dream house . . .

Man, I'd love to grab a bite and complain, but we've got our Bible study tonight!  I'm planning on doing a lot of complaining there though . . . 😂

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