Frozen plumbing in a country house: defrost pipes or what to do

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If frosts have damaged the water pipes and the water has frozen in them, the problem must be solved immediately. In this article, we will tell you how to properly thaw pipes, in addition, you will learn about the most effective ways to localize an accident on plastic or metal pipelines..

What to do if the water supply in a country house is frozen

If water does not flow from the pipe, air does not come out and is not sucked in, while the neighbors on the site do not have such problems, you have to deal with a frozen pipeline. There are several ways to eliminate the accident, but first you need to find a frozen section of the pipeline.

Finding a freezing point

Pipes most often freeze in places with poor thermal protection, usually this is the rise of a pipe from the ground, places of entry into a house, basements, revision or metering wells, also in the risk zone of a place of lowered flow – fittings and connections. There are two main known cases of this problem:

  1. The main line that feeds the entire system is frozen.
  2. The local area is frozen (this is easy to check if, in addition to the house, there is a water supply to the garden or farm buildings).

Usually in the risk zone there are pipelines that run above the freezing depth, and it is different for all regions.

City line Average freezing depth
Kaliningrad – Minsk – Kiev – Rostov-on-Don 0.8 m
Tallinn – Kharkov – Astrakhan 1m
Saint Petersburg – Novgorod – Smolensk – Voronezh 1.2 m
Petrozavodsk – Moscow – Saratov 1.4 m
Arkhangelsk – Kazan 1.6 m
Syktyvkar – Yekaterinburg – Orenburg 1.8 m
Naryan-Mar – Kurgan – Petropavlovsk – Omsk – Novosibirsk 2.2-2.4 m
Far north regions Over 2.4 m

In addition to the climatic zone, the level of groundwater rise, the type of soil and even the size of the snow cap are also important (so think about whether it is worth clearing the ground from snow in severe frost).

Once access to potential foci of freezing is open, thawing can be started. If a long section of the pipe is frozen, you do not need to dig it out completely, it is better to dig holes every 4–5 meters of the run. Their size should provide normal access to the pipe, for subsequent work with it.

If plastic pipes are frozen

It is not recommended to heat plastic pipes with an open flame, but a construction hair dryer is perfect. If not, wrap the clogged area with sacking and sprinkle with hot water for 10-30 minutes. In this case, the taps must be open: even the slightest hole in the ice plug will be broken by high pressure. Then the water itself will do its job, you just need to drain a sufficient amount through the system – about 1-1.5 m3.

Polypropylene and polyethylene pipes retain their ductility even at very low temperatures. Therefore, if you have a new plastic plumbing and a pipe of acceptable quality was used during the installation, there is a great chance that it will not burst. Special attention should be paid to the places of the adhesions: if the plastic was overheated during installation, it can crack and leak.

How to warm up a metal pipe

Metal pipes are not as sensitive to open flames, unless the inner wall is zinc-plated. You can even heat them with a blowtorch or a fire made under the pipe, with an acetylene or propane torch. It is advisable to avoid direct heating of threaded joints by fire, from this they will lose their tightness, you will have to repack.

The good thing about a metal pipe is that it efficiently distributes heat along its entire length, with strong heating, the water inside boils, the steam slowly but surely thaws the ice plug. It can even work up to 4-5 meters away, so be patient and keep heating.

Heating frozen pipes with electric current

A metal pipe is a good conductor and must be heated under the influence of an electric current, if you connect a conventional welding transformer to a pipe section, the pipe heats up enough to melt the ice inside itself. Depending on the power of the apparatus, it is possible to warm up a section from 5 to 30 meters at a time, or even the entire pipe..

What to do if the water supply in a country house is frozen

Attention! This defrosting method will take several hours and is only suitable for metal pipes that do not have connections and fittings..

There is another way to thaw ice inside the pipe, more laborious, but indispensable for buried pipes. In the house, you will have to disassemble a couple of joints to get one end of the frozen pipe completely open. Through it, a probe from an electric cable will be inserted into the pipe, having a tip like a “soldier’s boiler”.

Making a “boiler”

We need a one-piece copper cable with two single-wire double-insulated conductors, with a cross section of at least 4 mm2 several meters longer than the frozen pipe. From one end, you need to remove the belt insulation by 10-15 cm, wrap one core in the opposite direction and press it against the cable, remove the insulation from the other and very tightly wind 4-5 turns over the cable with the core superimposed on it. The end of the remaining core must also be stripped and wrapped around the cable at a distance of 3-4 cm from the first winding.

Attention! The insulation must in no case be damaged so that the conductors do not have direct contact.

Such a probe heats up the water quite strongly, easily moving along the pipe, it even passes through bends and turns. The probe can completely melt up to 20–30 meters of pipe (3–3.5 m of pipe in 1 hour). The probe can only be powered through a 25 A circuit breaker.

Attention! Under no circumstances should you touch a pipe or a live wire, which means that you will have to push the probe only after turning it off! Before each restart, check the circuit for a short circuit with a tester..

Water from the pipe can be drained by inserting a thin silicone hose connected to a pump or car compressor..

This method is suitable for plastic pipes; for metal pipes, the probe will have to be improved in order to avoid shorting on a metal wall. It is possible, for example, to equip the probe with an insulating sheath made of a tube of a smaller diameter. The plastic probe will not burn through, since it heats only water, the vein itself does not heat up.

“Enema” method of thawing pipes

You will need a large funnel, an Esmarch mug or enema bag, a thin silicone tube of the appropriate diameter, tightly put on the container fitting. The task is simple: deliver boiling water to the freezing point through a thin hose, collect the water coming out of the pipe, boil it again and pour it into an enema. The method really works, although with its help it will be possible to warm only 1.5-2 meters of the pipe in an hour.

What to do if the water supply in a country house is frozen

The bag must be located at least 2 meters above the outlet. As it thaws, the tube must be advanced until it hits the ice again. It will be much easier to do this if the tube is tied to a rigid steel wire with a bent end..

Eliminated the frozen water in the plumbing. Next steps

After the blockage in the pipe is removed, you need to make sure that the pipe does not break from the expanded ice. Lower about 0.5m3 water and turn off all taps. If there is a leak in the system, it will make itself felt: after a while, water will begin to collect in the dug holes or trenches, by its volume and direction of the inflow, you can determine the place of the breakthrough. The damaged area must be replaced, and the pipe must be insulated or buried deeper so that it does not freeze again.

In winter, major repairs are too difficult a task, but there are some measures that will allow you to “overwinter”:

  1. Wrap areas subject to freezing with glass wool bandage.
  2. Attach a heating cord to the freezing points.
  3. Cover the pipe tightly with Styrofoam pieces.
  4. Provide a constant flow of water, at least minimal.
  5. Install a drain valve and completely drain the water from the system.

What to do if the water supply in a country house is frozen

In the future, take into account the shortcomings of your plumbing system and be sure to take time for repairs in the warm season.

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