Frozen Pipes + Broken Boiler + Water Heater = WE MADE IT THROUGH!
  • Need some advice on what we are planning to do tonight considering the weather.

    Went out the backdoor this morning to a flood and the sound of running water. Checked the basement and it was about 8 inches flooded. Luckily, it was the outside pipe that burst. We were able to turn the water off to the outside spigot.
    Our furnace is broken, so there is no heat in the house. I have a space heater in the basement to (hopefully) keep the pipes from freezing. We are also running water through the faucets (although I did come home Sat night and one of them had an icicle. Was able to get the water to eventually run through again. The downstairs toilet was frozen.

    I am thinking about turning off the water to the house for the night and leaving the faucets on to drain the pipes, flush out all the toilets (so they don't crack) and fill the upstairs tub with water for flushing. (have a space heater in that bathroom also).

    How will this effect the water heater? Am I opening a can of worms or warding off a disastrous situations if the pipes burst?

    George Berkley?
    Any other engineers out there?

    HELP!

    justmenotwantingtoturnmyhouseintopool
    Post edited by justmelaura at 2014-01-09 17:34:12
  • oh my @justmelaura do you need a place to stay? we have lots of space
    I also have extra heaters
    Post edited by new207040 at 2014-01-06 15:53:10
  • Do you still have 8 inches of water in the basement?

    Is the furnace broken because of this?
  • Basement is flooded but you have a space heater in it? Hopefully basement is now dry.

    You can put antifreeze in the toilets to prevent freezing. Probably not legal but will help prevent further disaster.
  • The fire department pumps out basements after storms. Perhaps you could call them to safely pump out that water. Also, they may know more about what other steps to take than I do.

    Good luck.
  • Laura,

    In my humble opinion, you can turn the water off to the house. Open ever faucet you have. Outside valves as well. Unhook washers and open those valves. Drain the hot water heater and drain the boiler if you have one. Drain all that you can.

    If you have compressed air, blow out all the pipes you can.

    And hope for the best.

    You need to get heat going again, and the basement drained.

    Call a plumber. Get the heat going!
  • For the drain traps and toliets, you can purchase Potable Anti Freeze. Home Depot has it. Pour in sinks to fill the traps and flush the toliets and add it to the standing water.

    Do not use car anti freeze. It will kill dogs and cats if they drink it.
  • My college age boys came over and pumped out the basement.
    As far as the space heater, it is in the wash room on top of the washing machine. The pipes there are the ones that have frozen in the past.

    The furnace was cracked a few years ago by an old room mate. We have been living without it for years and been able to get by. My biggest concern right now is to keep the pipes from freezing. If they burst, the house will become completely uninhabitable.

    When the kids were living here, I kept a fire going which kept the basement above freezing. I guess I need to go get some firewood and keep the fireplace burning for a few days.

    Years ago, I had the attic refinished, fully insulated with electric baseboard heating. It is like a studio apartment and that is where I live in the cold months. I have a dorm fridge, a hot pot for tea, cable and am even thinking of getting a microwave.

    I feel like I am in that movie, The Day After Tomorrow :-D
  • Wow Cali, I actually have all of that stuff. And we just have a cat cohabitating with us and she lives in our 'studio'.

    George, thanks about the Potable Anti Freeze. My dog almost died a few years ago just from licking the outside of a bottle of antifreeze (spent a week almost in a coma).
  • does putting salt in the toilet help?
  • Laura,

    What type of heating system do you have? Furnace? Think hot air and maybe ductwork. Steam boiler or Hot water boiler (think pipes and radiators). Something else?
    Post edited by jimmurphy at 2014-01-06 19:06:33
  • how cold do you expect it to be in the house.... i wouldn't be too worried about the toilets, water freezing would be an issue if water expands and has no place to go, in a toilet bowl it is not confined.... turning off the water and opening the faucets especially at the lowest point to drain the system should be enough to prevent the pipes from freezing...also if the water heater is still functioning it will not freeze...good luck

  • When the kids were living here, I kept a fire going which kept the basement above freezing. I guess I need to go get some firewood and keep the fireplace burning for a few days.



    Laura --

    I have a pile of firewood that you can help yourself to. PM me for the exact house address.

    Michael
  • i wouldn't be too worried about the toilets, water freezing would be an issue if water expands and has no place to go, in a toilet bowl it is not confined.... turning off the water and opening the faucets especially at the lowest point to drain the system should be enough to prevent the pipes from freezing...



    Ouch! Just plain wrong.
    We've seen many toilets freeze and split. It has nothing to do with the water being confined or not. The water expands in the trapway and it splits the porcelain.
    And it is very wishful thinking you'll get the water to completely drain from a source at the main. Every pipe in the house would have to pitched properly for the to happen.

    We used to winterize rows of houses in several developments years ago. It involved large compressors and gallon of potable anti-freeze made for RVs.
  • how cold do you expect it to be in the house.... i wouldn't be too worried about the toilets, water freezing would be an issue if water expands and has no place to go, in a toilet bowl it is not confined....



    In the bowl it's not confined, but the water in the trap and pipes is confined. You don't want to find the weakest link. [ETA: Master Plvmber beat me to it]

    Laura, I think you may be setting yourself up for plumbing failure, and large expenses for repairs of burst pipes, fixtures, as well as for water damage to house and personal items. The outside pipe bursting was a warning shot.

    I would winterize the house by shutting off the water, draining the pipes, and stay with a friend until this really cold snap passes.

    ... Then since you're already living in just your 'studio', consider selling the house, and getting a smaller condo, apartment, or single floor of a house for rent. Or keep the house, and bring more people into it to make fixing the boiler and heating it make sense.

    I didn't want to stress myself out about the survival of the house every time we had a big freeze. I 'rented' our lower floor out to friends and family for 8 years to help pay for heating it.
    Post edited by sprout at 2014-01-06 19:38:01
  • just a question. If the hot water heater is working, would leaving some faucets running at a very slow rate keep them from freezing ? maybe laura could do that.
  • Do you have access to the pipes you are worried about? Home Depot sells electric cables you can wrap around the pipes and plug into a nearby outlet that will prevent freezing. Of course, you have to watch out for the unlikely pairing of water and electricity, but we used one of these in our former house in West Orange for years after we had pipes in the basement burst after freezing. You can also wrap pipes in foam rubber to keep them warmer.
  • PeggyC said:

    Do you have access to the pipes you are worried about? Home Depot sells electric cables you can wrap around the pipes and plug into a nearby outlet that will prevent freezing. Of course, you have to watch out for the unlikely pairing of water and electricity, but we used one of these in our former house in West Orange for years after we had pipes in the basement burst after freezing. You can also wrap pipes in foam rubber to keep them warmer.

    I just did this process for the water pipes in our crawl space. Because of the very awkward placement of those pipes it was a royal pain in the ass. It was damn near impossible to reach them at the far end where you have to place the thermostat button. Plus, trying to wrap them with the faced fiberglass pipe wrap when they're clamped loosely to floor joists. Anyway, here's hoping it works until I can get the crawl space better protected.

  • Thanks Guys,
    To answer a few questions

    What type of heating system do you have? Furnace?
    We have a gas burning steam furnace. It was cracked a few years ago when someone tried filling it after it burned dry.

    How cold do you expect it to be in the house?
    We have thermostats in the coldest rooms of the house. We aren't expecting to have a problem tonight, but beginning tomorrow with the continued cold I am expecting temps to drop.

    @Mbaldwin. I will definitely take you up on your offer. I can have my boys come by tomorrow and load up my car with whatever you can spare. I will keep a fire going for a few days. Fortunately, I have a few days off so I can stay home and keep an eye on things.

    @MasterPlumber I take your comments to heart. We turned the water off coming into the house, drained the hot water heater. I have the potable antifreeze that you spoke of and am using it in the toilets and traps (George Berkeley told me about this). We have identified all the pipes that are on external walls or in confined spaces that will have colder temps and have strategically and safely put space heaters in these areas. Also, we have purchased that electrical pipe warmer thing for the main pipe.

    @sprout We are not long for this house, basically squatting until the finances pick back up and then we will be moving. Trying to be proactive and do what I can to avoid the plumbing disaster. As far as the outside pipe bursting, that was my fault. I went to shut it off a few weeks ago and the knob was stuck. Meant to get some wd40 to loosen it but got caught up in other stuff.

    @sarahzm As my good friend George Berkeley told me, all water freezes even if it is moving, if it gets cold enough. That is why we decided to go with turning the water off to the house.

    @george berkeley Thanks for all the great advice. I think we are now in a 'wait and see' mode.

    Thank you everyone for your great advice and concern. MOL at its best.
  • bikefixed said:

    PeggyC said:

    Do you have access to the pipes you are worried about? Home Depot sells electric cables you can wrap around the pipes and plug into a nearby outlet that will prevent freezing. Of course, you have to watch out for the unlikely pairing of water and electricity, but we used one of these in our former house in West Orange for years after we had pipes in the basement burst after freezing. You can also wrap pipes in foam rubber to keep them warmer.

    I just did this process for the water pipes in our crawl space. Because of the very awkward placement of those pipes it was a royal pain in the ass. It was damn near impossible to reach them at the far end where you have to place the thermostat button. Plus, trying to wrap them with the faced fiberglass pipe wrap when they're clamped loosely to floor joists. Anyway, here's hoping it works until I can get the crawl space better protected.


    Yep, just picked them up. We are fortunate that none of the pipes are in crawl spaces and all easy to access.
    My fingers are crossed and my prayers are with you bikefixed!
  • Questions:

    Does salted water freeze? Look at the North Pole, see Ice? I was on the Huson river Sunday. Ice flow moving North from the bay up river past the Tappen Zee due to a high tide. Salted water will freeze.

    Leaving Hot Water heater on? Fact, hot water will freeze faster than cold water because minerals and oxygen has been reduced when heated. So, unless you are going to fund a hot water flow, trickle water will freeze. And then you have the supply side piping to the hot water heater you have to keep from freezing.

    Piping heat tape, good stuff.
  • Sea water freezes at about 28 F. Adding more salt will lower the freezing point, but it would take a lot of salt.
  • Man, I hear ya. Thought we were the only ones who limped along with a cracked boiler last heating season. (Refill every 4-6 hours) Took our savings and house-painting money and replaced the boiler AND hot water heater, which had lasted almost 22 years in August. So now the house, which could have used a paint job when we bought the house over 10 years ago, will have to wait again.
  • @justmelaura: Maplewood has a forgivable loan program for home repairs. This could help with your boiler issue.

    Here is the blurb from the town website:

    "Up to $20,000 available as a forgivable loan to eligible households Eligible ... uses of the funds include replacement or repair to: ● Roof ● Heating ... live in Maplewood, own your home and your total gross annual household income ... are provided as a no interest (0%) ten year forgivable loan � There are no monthly
    Updated:2/7/2012."

    Edited to add: Full text, including income requirements may be found at:

    http://www.twp.maplewood.nj.us/documentcenter/view/493

    Information can also be found in the current Leaflet which is available on-line, at the library, and at Town Hall.


    Post edited by joan crystal at 2014-01-07 07:34:03
  • Questions:

    Does salted water freeze? Look at the North Pole, see Ice? I was on the Huson river Sunday. Ice flow moving North from the bay up river past the Tappen Zee due to a high tide. Salted water will freeze.

    Leaving Hot Water heater on? Fact, hot water will freeze faster than cold water because minerals and oxygen has been reduced when heated. So, unless you are going to fund a hot water flow, trickle water will freeze. And then you have the supply side piping to the hot water heater you have to keep from freezing.

    Piping heat tape, good stuff.



    Believe it or not, the ocean on bays in cape Cod is frozen!
  • Joan Crystal -- as always -- a wealth of information.
  • Your average ocean water freezes at about 28.4 degrees Fahrenheit. The more salt in the water, the lower the temperature when it freezes.


  • fiche said:

    Joan Crystal -- as always -- a wealth of information.


    Thanks Joan, I will check it out.
    fiche said:

    Joan Crystal -- as always -- a wealth of information.

  • I would most definitely take advantage of the information Joan Crystal posted, and anything else you can find to get that boiler replaced. You're going to have a tough time selling a house without functioning heat, and if you can get it replaced now despite financial problems, you will be more comfortable even if you leave it set at 50. At least you wouldn't have to keep worrying about frozen pipes.
  • @mbaldwin, could you text me your address and I will stop by. Thanks
    973.885.5210
  • @mbaldwin, could you text me your address and I will stop by. Thanks
    973.885.5210



    Done! Take as much as you need.
  • PeggyC said:

    I would most definitely take advantage of the information Joan Crystal posted, and anything else you can find to get that boiler replaced. You're going to have a tough time selling a house without functioning heat, and if you can get it replaced now despite financial problems, you will be more comfortable even if you leave it set at 50. At least you wouldn't have to keep worrying about frozen pipes.



    This. You are going to have to fix/replace the boiler before you can sell the house, so you might as well do it sooner and enjoy the results. I say this as someone who has done a lot of fixing up for selling and wished that I had done most of it a lot sooner.

  • In my bathroom I have double sinks...One side has water but the other dosent... I don't know if its frozen or what to do.. also no water in the shower or bath tub. Any ideas please
    Post edited by BrenD at 2014-01-07 18:39:22
  • Slowly try to warm the pipe with a hair dryer. Try to find where the pipeis frozen. Is the non running sink closer to the wall?
    Post edited by justmelaura at 2014-01-07 19:54:09
  • I just found the water line on our first floor toilet is frozen. First time that's happened. Luckily there's a separate shut-off in the basement. Do you have something like that?
  • You have to find out where the pipes are frozen. Even if you use the shut off you have frozen water in your pipes. Crank up your heat and find any cold spots where your pipes are running. Try toget warmth to them.
  • That is an unbelievable loan program if the money still exists. Could have used it ten years ago.
  • There is a small warming trend for the latter part of the week, FWIW. Hope it helps everyone who is having difficulty with frozen pipes. :(
  • Judging from Phil's long hours of work - there has been a lot of frozen pipe (and other things as well) in the neighborhood :(
  • Just going by the number of people posting about frozen pipes on MOL, it seems to be a huge problem right now. Thank goodness the temperatures are about to go up, but I feel for those who must now deal with the aftermath of frozen pipes. Been there, done that. Still getting over it.
  • Last Night The Gas Light Commons alarm system went off sending all of us into the 5 Degree night.

    For the 2nd time in a week, a water pipe was frozen and burst causing a flood and the alarms with Fire Dept. dispatch. Management has asked all to set thermostats to 65 Hold or higher and have set all empty units to that heat level.

    Man it is cold out!
  • Must have been a sprinkler pipe that burst. A regular pipe wouldn't get the FD's attention. They might need to install a dry sprinkler system if it's in an area that can't be effectively heated, such as the parking garage.
  • Last Night The Gas Light Commons alarm system went off sending all of us into the 5 Degree night.

    For the 2nd time in a week, a water pipe was frozen and burst causing a flood and the alarms with Fire Dept. dispatch. Management has asked all to set thermostats to 65 Hold or higher and have set all empty units to that heat level.

    Man it is cold out!



    Must have only been in the one building, because otherwise I slept right through it. :)
    We set our temp to 60 during the day, but will have to bump it up as per their request.
  • Last night Building #2, around 9 PM 'ish.

    I hear that the pipe that burst was in a unit and the water got into and shorted out the fire alarm system.

    Heard is the key word.

    Glad you slept the night!
  • As I was driving around town yesterday I saw plumbers and fire trucks all over, lots of pumping out of basements, etc.
    I am glad we were proactive. Even if I had heat some of the pipes on external wall could easily have frozen. We have been able to keep the areas of the house with pipes at 40 - 50 degrees. We are going to wait another day to turn the water back on. Hopefully everything will be flowing INSIDE the pipes!
  • Laura, glad to hear you have avoided the worst. But I hope you will look into the programs to get that boiler replaced. I think it will be inevitable before you sell, and you might as well be a little more comfortable in the meantime. Even if all that means is keeping the house at 50 instead of 40. :(
  • Yea! We have water again! Hot and Cold! And no broken pipes!
  • Yea, we were so worried for you


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