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  1. #1
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    Question Hot water pipe frozen?

    So its been a wee bit cold here in Montana for the last 3 days, way sub-zero overnight and topping 10 or so during the day. Anyway, this morning I go to get some hot water from the kitchen sink......nothing. The cold water is going strong in all facets in the house, as is the hot water everwhere else.

    The main difference I can see is that the hot water pipes that lead to the bathroom run in the crawlspace. Whereas the hotwater pipe for the kitchen is next to/in an exterior wall.

    I can see and feel the said Hot water pipe as it leave the hot water heater. It then has to run ~ 20 feet over the sink (through the wall).

    I've got the cabinet doors open and a heater going in the util. room (where the hotwater heater is). The house hasn't dropped below 65 during all this.

    Is there anything I am missing?

    Or am I doomed to do the dishes in the bathtub until the cold snap breaks?

  2. #2
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    It sounds like it is the problem is the pipe in the exterior wall, though there is a chance that something might be blocking your hot water supply stop. The valve diameter in a stop is much smaller than the 1/2" supply line. Trouble shoot your stop before undertaking any drastic thawing techniques. If it is a compression stop this will be easy, but you might have to cut a soldered copper or crimped PEX fitting.

    I had to thaw a 3' section of pipe one time. I wrapped it in cloth and then poured a kettle of boiling water in it. It was fixed in less than 30 seconds. 20 feet plus going through walls might be a little more difficult. Good Luck.

  3. #3
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    A drip in sink leaves less to think.

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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by FreakofSnow View Post
    I've got the cabinet doors open and a heater going in the util. room (where the hotwater heater is). The house hasn't dropped below 65 during all this.

    Is there anything I am missing?
    hey- get anything moving through your pipes?? Woke up to the same issue here this morning (second time since November, though not quite as bad this time).

    try getting more heat into the cabinet directly under the sinks/getting the air to move down the pipe vs up from the hot water heater, if there's a difference in their location from the utility room.

    I've found it helps to turn on the faucets, even if you can only get a drip out of the hot water side, it gets it moving... and it'll thaw out eventually..

    I've got the heat cranked up to 70 as well.
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  5. #5
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    Talking

    I left the heater ripping in the utility room last night, had the facet open and had the fire rippin' in the woodstove all last night. Then this morning I took a burning hot shower. Came out to find hot water full bore out of the sink.

    All is well, guess I won't have to get all greasy with the dishes in the tub now.

    It was a balmy -1F this morning vs -10 yesterday morn. Thanks for the responses.

    Here was last years issue with frozen pipes/pump after getting back from skiing in BC.

  6. #6
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    The cold tap in my place froze earlier this year. Same situation, worked everywhere else, including the washing machine which was 10 feet away. I cleared out under the sink and put a small ceramic heater under there and left it on while I was at work. Problem solved.
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  7. #7
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    Like splat said, the best way to deal with this during cold snaps is to leave the water dripping (short of adding heat to the space, heat tape or insulation). Hot water will freeze quicker (only when in a sealed container, i.e. pipe) due to the air being driven out of the water during the heating process (air is a natural insulator, and therefore, the reason hot water freezes faster).
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pow4Brains View Post
    ...(air is a natural insulator, and therefore, the reason hot water freezes faster).
    Don't think so , hot water freezes faster due to the fact that it starts off crystal free so the crystals can grow faster. In cold water even before 0 C is reached there are ice crystals in the water. In the cold water these little small crystals get in the way of the the solidification process.

    This is related to the question why is whater most dense at 4C . It is because as water is getting cooler it is getting more dense but it also starts growing crystals which are less dense ( ice floats) . 4C is the point crystal grow starts to reduce the density
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  9. #9
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    Some people have connected arcwelders to copper pipe to thaw them (just clip the positive & negative electrodes at each end of the pipe). I've always had to use the classic blowtorch.
    Hope you didn't break any pipes. For some reason they always break at the bend.

  10. #10
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    Spoke too soon. Tap froze again. Back to the heater I go.
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    ...sooner or later you'll dance with the reaper
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  11. #11
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    Dec 2008
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    Quote Originally Posted by DougW View Post
    Don't think so , hot water freezes faster due to the fact that it starts off crystal free so the crystals can grow faster. In cold water even before 0 C is reached there are ice crystals in the water. In the cold water these little small crystals get in the way of the the solidification process.

    This is related to the question why is whater most dense at 4C . It is because as water is getting cooler it is getting more dense but it also starts growing crystals which are less dense ( ice floats) . 4C is the point crystal grow starts to reduce the density
    Take it from a Chemist that can tell you why hot water freezes faster......
    You have to go down to a molecular level. Molecules is hot water move more rapidly than in cold water. This movement of molecules is referred to as:
    Brownian Movement. When molecules are moving that fast and they collide into one another and bounce around, the faster the molecules will move. Molecules can be moving so rapidly that they can be dispersed outside of the container that they are in, in this case;water pipes. This causes a lesser amount of water to be in the container and therefore a lesser amount of molecules to bounce around and a lesser amount of water left to freeze. The fewer the molecules=the lesser movement of molecules=the faster the water will freeze.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by kadybug View Post
    Take it from a Chemist that can tell you why hot water freezes faster......
    You have to go down to a molecular level. Molecules is hot water move more rapidly than in cold water. This movement of molecules is referred to as:
    Brownian Movement. When molecules are moving that fast and they collide into one another and bounce around, the faster the molecules will move. Molecules can be moving so rapidly that they can be dispersed outside of the container that they are in, in this case;water pipes. This causes a lesser amount of water to be in the container and therefore a lesser amount of molecules to bounce around and a lesser amount of water left to freeze. The fewer the molecules=the lesser movement of molecules=the faster the water will freeze.
    kind of a weird bump there, but perhaps timely due to the temps in Missoula right now. Pipes holding up alright this round FOS?

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