Author Topic: Freezing Pipes  (Read 5997 times)

MrMoogle

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Freezing Pipes
« on: December 14, 2016, 11:05:37 AM »
I live in Alabama, and it's going to get down to 26F tonight.  Cold right?  Ha.  Anyway, I got an email from my landlord saying that I should leave my faucets running, and put my heat on 68.  I live in an apartment complex, I'm surrounded left, right, top, and back by other apartments, so I haven't even needed to turn on the heat yet.  My indoor temp has gone below 66 one night. 

From my googling, in the south, we tend to not need to worry unless the temp gets below 20F:
http://energy.gov/energysaver/articles/turn-down-temp-dont-let-your-pipes-freeze
And then, once it does, set the heat no lower than 55F and run faucets:
http://www.redcross.org/get-help/prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/winter-storm/frozen-pipes

So why are they asking for this when it's 26F out, and why are they asking to put the heat on 68?  And what should I do?

justchristine

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Re: Freezing Pipes
« Reply #1 on: December 14, 2016, 11:24:18 AM »
I don't know that you would need to put your heat up to 68, but if the temp doesn't fall below that it won't turn on so no big deal.

As for the faucets, it sounds like your landlord is being overly cautious.  If he's paying the water bill, I say do it. 

TheInsuranceMan

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Re: Freezing Pipes
« Reply #2 on: December 14, 2016, 11:52:45 AM »
I live in Alabama, and it's going to get down to 26F tonight.  Cold right?  Ha.  Anyway, I got an email from my landlord saying that I should leave my faucets running, and put my heat on 68.  I live in an apartment complex, I'm surrounded left, right, top, and back by other apartments, so I haven't even needed to turn on the heat yet.  My indoor temp has gone below 66 one night. 

From my googling, in the south, we tend to not need to worry unless the temp gets below 20F:
http://energy.gov/energysaver/articles/turn-down-temp-dont-let-your-pipes-freeze
And then, once it does, set the heat no lower than 55F and run faucets:
http://www.redcross.org/get-help/prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/winter-storm/frozen-pipes

So why are they asking for this when it's 26F out, and why are they asking to put the heat on 68?  And what should I do?

Our low temp for Saturday is forecasted at -22 (talking -40F wind chills.  Awesome), and I'm not going to have my water running.  If your pipes are in the ground going into the apartment complex, there is no way they are going to freeze unless the ground is froze to the depth that they are buried. 

MrMoogle

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Re: Freezing Pipes
« Reply #3 on: December 14, 2016, 12:18:09 PM »
I don't know that you would need to put your heat up to 68, but if the temp doesn't fall below that it won't turn on so no big deal.

As for the faucets, it sounds like your landlord is being overly cautious.  If he's paying the water bill, I say do it.
He is paying the water bill, so it wouldn't cost me anything.  But I'm one of those annoying efficiency people, who don't like to waste things if I can help it. 

I've never seen a landlord be this extreme.  When I was in college, it was below zero every year, and my landlord then never mentioned any of this.


KCM5

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Re: Freezing Pipes
« Reply #4 on: December 14, 2016, 12:24:25 PM »
The only thing I can think of is if the crawlspace isn't well insulated?

I wouldn't bother with the heat, but maybe he's had the pipes freeze in an uninsulated crawlspace?

TheInsuranceMan

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Re: Freezing Pipes
« Reply #5 on: December 14, 2016, 12:34:01 PM »
The only thing I can think of is if the crawlspace isn't well insulated?

I wouldn't bother with the heat, but maybe he's had the pipes freeze in an uninsulated crawlspace?

This would make the most sense as to why he'd want you to keep water running.

trollwithamustache

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Re: Freezing Pipes
« Reply #6 on: December 14, 2016, 12:48:20 PM »
Yeah you likely really do need to leave your facets running a little. , my parents moved to the Eastern shore area near Mobile... they have had some pipes outside burst when it freezes.  These were all outside pipes for garden hoses and one small line run under the house that was not insulated in any way. Normal practice in that area appears to be  no allowance for cold weather at all. (at least from a handful of their neighbors.)

Hopefully your landlord knows the building piping and that's why he's doing this.

MrMoogle

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Re: Freezing Pipes
« Reply #7 on: December 14, 2016, 02:10:01 PM »
The only thing I can think of is if the crawlspace isn't well insulated?

I wouldn't bother with the heat, but maybe he's had the pipes freeze in an uninsulated crawlspace?

This would make the most sense as to why he'd want you to keep water running.
I'm pretty sure there's no crawl space under me.  Most houses around here don't have them.  The floor doesn't creek anywhere or anything like that, and there's no access to one in my apartment.  But I could be wrong.

Yeah you likely really do need to leave your facets running a little. , my parents moved to the Eastern shore area near Mobile... they have had some pipes outside burst when it freezes.  These were all outside pipes for garden hoses and one small line run under the house that was not insulated in any way. Normal practice in that area appears to be  no allowance for cold weather at all. (at least from a handful of their neighbors.)

Hopefully your landlord knows the building piping and that's why he's doing this.
I don't have garden hoses or anything outside.  I'll leave it dripping to make them happy, but I'm leaving my heating set to 60.

caffeine

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Re: Freezing Pipes
« Reply #8 on: December 14, 2016, 02:22:40 PM »
This sounds like a blanket request the landlord is making based on experience with the lowest common denominator. He likely has experienced or is paranoid about experiencing a pipe bursting. If he's paying the water bill, I think you should feel obligated to oblige him regardless of efficiency sentiment. As for the temperature, the request is excessive. Set it to any temperature above 55 you want.

teen persuasion

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Re: Freezing Pipes
« Reply #9 on: December 15, 2016, 07:41:55 PM »
Pipes in exterior uninsulated walls?

It's expected to go to zero tonight, and winds are wicked, so I'll let our bathroom faucet drip tonight, and leave the kick space panel off.  Our old farmhouse has thick fieldstone basement walls, but where some past remodeler ran that sink faucet waterline up and over the sill plate into an uninsulated exterior wall is the point at which it gets cold and freezes during extreme cold spells.

If it does freeze, a hot blow dryer aimed at the pipe will melt the ice and get it flowing again  (so long as we catch it before it bursts).  Start heating the pipe on the faucet end of the freeze, so melt can escape rather than build up pressure, and move away from the faucet/towards the frozen section as you go.

When we remodel that bathroom, there will be no pipes run in exterior walls.

trammatic

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Re: Freezing Pipes
« Reply #10 on: December 16, 2016, 08:16:53 AM »
This sounds like a blanket request the landlord is making based on experience with the lowest common denominator. He likely has experienced or is paranoid about experiencing a pipe bursting. If he's paying the water bill, I think you should feel obligated to oblige him regardless of efficiency sentiment. As for the temperature, the request is excessive. Set it to any temperature above 55 you want.

+1.  His house, his money.

Playing with Fire UK

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Re: Freezing Pipes
« Reply #11 on: December 16, 2016, 08:25:53 AM »
I'd go back to the landlord and ask for a bit more information. Particularly if there is a reason that you in your apartment need to do it (maybe experience or a pipe into your apartment that run in an unheated area?) or is it just that some people in the building need to do it or maybe it is solid advice for a house that doesn't apply to you at all, but the email went out to everyone.

MrMoogle

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Re: Freezing Pipes
« Reply #12 on: December 16, 2016, 08:35:41 AM »
I'd go back to the landlord and ask for a bit more information. Particularly if there is a reason that you in your apartment need to do it (maybe experience or a pipe into your apartment that run in an unheated area?) or is it just that some people in the building need to do it or maybe it is solid advice for a house that doesn't apply to you at all, but the email went out to everyone.
Well there are 770 units owned by this group (person?  I don't know), so I'm not sure if they'd know specifically about my apartment.  The buildings are from the 50's, so I'm guessing the updates haven't been consistent, so there could be some buildings that need this more than others.  I'll drip the faucet for them.

Also, the management company just got replaced (although most of the people remained), so it may be somehow related to that.

Spork

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Re: Freezing Pipes
« Reply #13 on: December 16, 2016, 08:46:09 AM »
This is just a normal blanket request that all landlords issue in the south.

Don't worry about the heat.
Maybe let the faucets drip... but only a drip.
More importantly: open the cabinets under your sinks whenever the plumbing is on an outside wall.  (The cabinet actually acts as insulation and keeps the heat of the house away from the pipe.  On an outside wall, a really deep freeze *might* penetrate to the pipes.


nereo

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Re: Freezing Pipes
« Reply #14 on: December 16, 2016, 08:59:16 AM »
This is just a normal blanket request that all landlords issue in the south.

Don't worry about the heat.
Maybe let the faucets drip... but only a drip.
More importantly: open the cabinets under your sinks whenever the plumbing is on an outside wall.  (The cabinet actually acts as insulation and keeps the heat of the house away from the pipe.  On an outside wall, a really deep freeze *might* penetrate to the pipes.
Pretty much this.
When you are talking about letting your faucets drip to prevent freezing, we're talking about slow drips - the kind that might fill a coffee cup only after a couple of minutes.  The water bill shouldn't change much b/c muni water is cheap and you're talking about an increase of just a few gallons per day, about what a few flushes of the toilet might use.  Besides, landlord is paying for it...

I've lived in some pretty cold places with poorly insulated pipes and a slow drip always prevented freezing, at least at the temps you are talking about (low 20sF/high teens).

Playing with Fire UK

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Re: Freezing Pipes
« Reply #15 on: December 16, 2016, 09:13:43 AM »
This is just a normal blanket request that all landlords issue in the south.

This was my suspicion, it's blanket advice that may be unnecessary for the OP in an apartment.

You can put a bucket below the drip and use it to fill your cistern.

trollwithamustache

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Re: Freezing Pipes
« Reply #16 on: December 16, 2016, 09:17:40 AM »
If the goal is net conservation of resources, a broken pipe will waste far far more water than the apartment drips. Yeah its a blanket statement, but some percentage of the building needs to do it to protect the pipes.

Ooo, I just realized this is moving into game theory!

If you have an SO, I suspect they won't like not having running water for the half day to day a repair takes...  can I publish this as the Faucets Dilema? and become a famous mathematician? :)

Enigma

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Re: Freezing Pipes
« Reply #17 on: December 16, 2016, 09:22:23 AM »
Your landlord may know more than he is letting on to.  For example, there was a property my father owned a few years back.  The pipes almost always froze from one year to the other.  If your landlord has had issues in the past they maybe warning you of things to come.

If my landlord told me that my temp needed to be above 68 degrees or I needed to put my facet on a slow drip - I would do it....  I can see this ending poorly if you use 60 degrees instead of 68, pipes burst, freezing water everywhere, no flood insurance, and the landlord questioning why you didn't do as he asked.

MrMoogle

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Re: Freezing Pipes
« Reply #18 on: December 16, 2016, 09:25:31 AM »
This is just a normal blanket request that all landlords issue in the south.

This was my suspicion, it's blanket advice that may be unnecessary for the OP in an apartment.

You can put a bucket below the drip and use it to fill your cistern.
I'm planning on making stew tomorrow, so I can slowly fill the crock pot tonight.  That'll save some of it.

If the goal is net conservation of resources, a broken pipe will waste far far more water than the apartment drips. Yeah its a blanket statement, but some percentage of the building needs to do it to protect the pipes.

Ooo, I just realized this is moving into game theory!

If you have an SO, I suspect they won't like not having running water for the half day to day a repair takes...  can I publish this as the Faucets Dilema? and become a famous mathematician? :)
It's unlikely a pipe will freeze, much less burst above 20F.  We've only gotten down to 26F.  And our days are still in the 40's.  50's today, and actually high 60's tomorrow, so there's still a lot of residual heat in the ground, making it even less likely to have a problem.  But I'll respect their wishes, at least for the faucet. 

Playing with Fire UK

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Re: Freezing Pipes
« Reply #19 on: December 16, 2016, 09:26:12 AM »
If the goal is net conservation of resources, a broken pipe will waste far far more water than the apartment drips. Yeah its a blanket statement, but some percentage of the building needs to do it to protect the pipes.

Ooo, I just realized this is moving into game theory!

If you have an SO, I suspect they won't like not having running water for the half day to day a repair takes...  can I publish this as the Faucets Dilema? and become a famous mathematician? :)

But if you live in an apartment building where you think everyone else will run the water, do you need to? Or will everyone else think the same?

Just Joe

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Re: Freezing Pipes
« Reply #20 on: December 16, 2016, 09:38:21 AM »
Pipes in exterior uninsulated walls?

It's expected to go to zero tonight, and winds are wicked, so I'll let our bathroom faucet drip tonight, and leave the kick space panel off.  Our old farmhouse has thick fieldstone basement walls, but where some past remodeler ran that sink faucet waterline up and over the sill plate into an uninsulated exterior wall is the point at which it gets cold and freezes during extreme cold spells.

If it does freeze, a hot blow dryer aimed at the pipe will melt the ice and get it flowing again  (so long as we catch it before it bursts).  Start heating the pipe on the faucet end of the freeze, so melt can escape rather than build up pressure, and move away from the faucet/towards the frozen section as you go.

When we remodel that bathroom, there will be no pipes run in exterior walls.

Heat tape. Had this problem. Never a problem after the heat tape. Turn on and off as the weather allows.

bobechs

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Re: Freezing Pipes
« Reply #21 on: December 16, 2016, 09:44:37 AM »
Sure a blanket request.

Sure, getting residents accustomed to letting the faucets drip when it is cold, without requiring a detailed justification of the exact need, for a particular unit, on a specific day, for the individual tenant.

But if what's bugging you Binky, is wasting all that precious aqua you could just put a bucket under the faucet and capture the gallon or two that would otherwise trickle away and then put it to extra-special good, good use-- a sponge bath, flush the toilet, wash the car, water the livestock....

Once you get used to the idea you could even conserve that gallon or two when the need to act  to prevent supply line freezing is undebatable -- i.e. on really, really cold days.  Then just set the bucket out and in a few hours you'll have a skating rink for hamsters.

MrMoogle

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Re: Freezing Pipes
« Reply #22 on: December 16, 2016, 01:01:30 PM »
I'm perfectly happy to comply with whatever is needed to prevent the pipes from freezing.  What I'm not happy to comply with is unnecessary precautions, especially if it costs me money.  I've got a gallon jug I was going to recycle, that I can use to capture the water, but that's not the big deal. 

Putting the heat on 68 is what blew my mind.  I have neighbors who keep their AC set lower than this.  I don't see a need for it, it costs me money, and I'd prefer it to be cold enough so I'm not sweating as soon as I walk in the door in my motorcycle gear.

nereo

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Re: Freezing Pipes
« Reply #23 on: December 16, 2016, 01:24:30 PM »
I'm perfectly happy to comply with whatever is needed to prevent the pipes from freezing.  What I'm not happy to comply with is unnecessary precautions, especially if it costs me money.  I've got a gallon jug I was going to recycle, that I can use to capture the water, but that's not the big deal. 

Putting the heat on 68 is what blew my mind.  I have neighbors who keep their AC set lower than this.  I don't see a need for it, it costs me money, and I'd prefer it to be cold enough so I'm not sweating as soon as I walk in the door in my motorcycle gear.

I really can't see how raising your heat from 60/62 to 68 would make a lick of difference for your pipes, especially when the outside temp is in the mid-20s. If it's going to freeze at that temp it'll be somewhere that's removed from your comfy apartment, exposed and completely un-insulated.

I'd drip the faucet to keep him/her happy and leave your thermostat where it is.

vivophoenix

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Re: Freezing Pipes
« Reply #24 on: December 16, 2016, 01:27:58 PM »
I'm perfectly happy to comply with whatever is needed to prevent the pipes from freezing.  What I'm not happy to comply with is unnecessary precautions, especially if it costs me money.  I've got a gallon jug I was going to recycle, that I can use to capture the water, but that's not the big deal. 

Putting the heat on 68 is what blew my mind.  I have neighbors who keep their AC set lower than this.  I don't see a need for it, it costs me money, and I'd prefer it to be cold enough so I'm not sweating as soon as I walk in the door in my motorcycle gear.

sorry but you sound like you're just being difficult for the sake of it.


your landlord asked you to put the thermostat on 68. seriously how much is that going to cost you to prevent a pipe from freezing? did this truly 'blow your mind'?

how much do you care about the world that allowing a slow drip is completely against your ethos?

if you are against it don't do.
but also be ready to accept the worst case scenario.










MrMoogle

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Re: Freezing Pipes
« Reply #25 on: December 16, 2016, 01:40:20 PM »
I'm perfectly happy to comply with whatever is needed to prevent the pipes from freezing.  What I'm not happy to comply with is unnecessary precautions, especially if it costs me money.  I've got a gallon jug I was going to recycle, that I can use to capture the water, but that's not the big deal. 

Putting the heat on 68 is what blew my mind.  I have neighbors who keep their AC set lower than this.  I don't see a need for it, it costs me money, and I'd prefer it to be cold enough so I'm not sweating as soon as I walk in the door in my motorcycle gear.

sorry but you sound like you're just being difficult for the sake of it.

your landlord asked you to put the thermostat on 68. seriously how much is that going to cost you to prevent a pipe from freezing? did this truly 'blow your mind'?

how much do you care about the world that allowing a slow drip is completely against your ethos?

if you are against it don't do.
but also be ready to accept the worst case scenario.
I was extremely surprised when I saw 68 degrees.  I've googled it before, and saw 55.  Do you have any documentation that says 68 is a reasonable value to prevent pipes from freezing when the temperature is ranging from 26F at night to 50F during the day?

A slow drip isn't against my ethos, a slow drip at 35F to protect the pipes from freezing would, there's no point to it.  According to the articles I liked, anything above 20F doesn't need it. 

If your landlord (hypothetical if you own) said you needed to keep the temperature at 75F, would that be acceptable to you?  When does it become unacceptable?

Playing with Fire UK

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Re: Freezing Pipes
« Reply #26 on: December 16, 2016, 01:48:53 PM »
Putting the heat on 68 is what blew my mind.  I have neighbors who keep their AC set lower than this.  I don't see a need for it, it costs me money, and I'd prefer it to be cold enough so I'm not sweating as soon as I walk in the door in my motorcycle gear.

I agree, our insurance requires that we heat warehouses to 45-50F to prevent freezing. 68F is totally unnecessary. They've just picked a 'warm room' temperature out of the air.

mousebandit

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Re: Freezing Pipes
« Reply #27 on: December 18, 2016, 08:03:05 PM »
This has very little to do with OP situation, but I just got inside from dealing with my frozen pipes.  We're homesteaders and on a new property, and some of our pipes are still above ground, not wrapped, heck they weren't even covered with anything.  And the temp dumped last night, and we got caught with our pants down.  Pipes froze and the spring lines froze, and it's been a long, miserable day.  The husband worked on it all day, and got the lines from the cistern and pump moving almost all the way to the house.  We had a trickle flow from the spring lines going by sundown.  Husband had to head back to the city for work, so I got out there with a heat gun (like an industrial hairdryer, lol), mr heater, and an electric heater.  I finally got the last 20 feet moving.  Thankfully, within 10 minutes of that the spring lines busted loose and got flowing again.  I do have two faucets in my house running nearly full blast, and will be intentionally running the washing machine most of the night, to keep that spring flowing steady with no impediments. 

I'm sure OP is in a city and has normal water and plumbing systems, so none of this applies. I just wanted to share my adventures, lol.

KCalla

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Re: Freezing Pipes
« Reply #28 on: December 18, 2016, 08:43:33 PM »
Agreeing with the above posters....run the water at a slow but steady drip all night.  Put a pan/bucket in to save the water if you want, but definitely do not block your drain with the bucket/pan.  Especially, especially,  do this for any faucet that is at or near an outside wall.   Keep cabinet and closet doors open that are near plumbing.   Having lived in both types of climates, there is a great difference in how cold it has to get to freeze pipes in southern/southwestern climates and in climates where cold winters are more frequent.    Not because water freezes at any different temperature (of course!), but because of differences in construction, insulation, air circulation, etc.
I have had an inside pipe freeze that was in a heated bathroom (above 65 degrees) because along the course of the pipe it was closer to the outside wall and insulation had settled.  Slow moving water (and insulating the pipe) prevented this later.   As noted above,  Pipes are run differently (above ground vs underground) and sometimes even different pipe, joint and faucet materials and designs are used.  It's not how warm the room is that is important.  It is what the temperature of the metal pipe/faucet itself and how much cold that transfers to water  inside the pipe/faucet.  Moving water freezes at a higher temperature.  I've had an exterior faucet break because some water droplets that remained in the faucet control froze and cracked part of the faucet control.  You find that out after it thaws.  Frozen water expands.
Dealing with the damage a frozen pipe can cause to walls, floors/ceilings, furniture, insulation, etc is really a pain for all involved (even if you are not the one who has to pay for or do repairs). 

KCalla

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Re: Freezing Pipes
« Reply #29 on: December 18, 2016, 08:49:03 PM »
And I do recognize from your post that your apartment is well protected.  But one of your neighbors who is more at risk for freezing pipes may not act as recommended.  Your action will protect you and anyone who does not take the potential threat seriously  (and isn't that just how it is, so often, in so many aspects of life!)