winter in northwest ohio

And time for that age old tradition all homeowners know and love: the thawing of pipes in sub-freezing temperatures. What's that? You never had to deal with that loathsome task? Well unless your house is over 100 years old and extravagances like indoor plumbing, like electricity, was probably an afterthought, you may have never had to deal with this. This may also be a phenomenon if your house feels like it has had the same number of additions as the Winchester Mansion. With additions that have pipes going through uninsulated walls, you may have come across this problem. Luckily, we seem to have both these strikes against us. Don't get me wrong, I love our house, I just hate the people that built it at times. Anyhow, with the string of days we've had with sub-zero temperatures, I knew we would experience a problem with the washer lines in the mudroom.

I tried for several days using non-invasive techniques like heating pads and heat guns with no success. Since the lines are on a T junction with the tub downstairs, we also though it would help if we run a slow trickle of water in the tub to keep the water moving, and possible thaw the ice enough to free the lines. After only just a few minutes of this, we quick;y realized the tub was not draining. The downstairs bathroom was an add-on and also over crawl-space. The p-trap on the tub was also frozen solid....

House 2, Craig 0

Today we decided to saw out an access port next to the lines, an area of about 5 inches where the lines feed in from the downstairs bathroom. The problem with this 5 inch gap between walls is that there is a clear, unobstructed view of the crawlspace beneath. The holes where the lines go through wall has cold air gushing through it, so it is easy to see why the lines freeze so easily. I cut a small 6x8 access port and warmed the lines with a heat gun. The were moving freely within 2 minutes. I finished the job by wrapping them in enough fiberglass insulation so insure this doesn't happen again. And if it does, I have an access port to get to them quickly. While out shopping earlier, I also picked up a drain auger to break up the ice in the tub and as luck would have it, the warmer temps we had today combined with an inch of water in the tub was enough to thaw the p-trap as it was drained by the time we got home....

House 2, Craig 2 (with an assist from mother nature)