Posts Tagged ‘crawl_space’
written 1/3/14 – Today was really cold…about 2 deg. Our pipes came close to freezing in our crawl space. Every year I tell a story about the pipes in the crawl space, hoping that it will be the last story about the pipes in the crawl space. This year I will tell the story again, adding another chapter to it. When we moved in, we had never had a house with a crawl space before. At this house there was a piece of wood hung over the opening to the crawl space by a nail in the basement. It wasn’t a door, just a covering seperating the two spaces. From the outside there was a vent. The first year or so, the wood was over the opening and the vent was not covered and the pipes did not freeze.
A few years after we had moved in, the pipes almost froze, so we decided to leave the wood off. We put a screen there, just to separate the two areas, the basement from the crawl space. This worked for a year or two. Then the pipes almost froze again. The water in the bathroom was turned on in the morning and only a cold trickle of water came out of the faucet. I asked some friends what to do and they suggested that we get a heat lamp, like the ones used in pet cages, ex. for lizards and frogs. We had had one in our chicken coop so we brought it in. This worked for a few years. Last year the pipes started to freeze again. I asked more people and they said to put Styrofoam on the outside of the vent and to wrap heating tape around the pipes. The Styrofoam part was easy. It just needs to be cut to the correct size. The heating tape was not as easy. We needed to crawl into the crawl space and wrap the pipes. To say it like that doesn’t sound that bad, but to actually wrap the pipes is not fun. There is no room in the crawl space, all of the heating tape needs to go in at one time, and all be wrapped around each pipe as you go along. One hint if you are going to do this, don’t unwrap the tape ahead of time. We did this when it was relatively cold out so there were no spiders. For the rest of last winter, the pipes did not freeze.
This morning, the pipes were almost frozen. We have the vent covered and the pipes wrapped. We still had a small, cold trickle of water this morning. We left the water on for a long time and eventually the pipes thawed. By Monday the temperature may be -18 deg. We have turned off the heat lamp. We can’t have the lamp on and the pipes wrapped on at the same time. If we do the wrapping doesn’t heat up. It is set to only heat up when it reaches a certain temperature. If the heat lamp is on it never gets cold enough. The tape works better than the lamp at keeping the pipes thawed so we keep the lamp off now. I am going to get bales of hay and put them outside by the foundation to keep the wind away. In the spring they can be put into the compost pile.
written 1/18/14 – William and I put plastic on the last window in the living room yesterday. It is cold out finally, so it couldn’t be put off any longer. It got really cold on Thursday night. In the morning, all of the pipes were OK except for the one going to the tub where only a small trickle of water would come out. The bathroom is built over a crawl space and there is a vent in the crawl space that leads outside. We have Styrofoam on the outside of the house in this vent to keep the cold air out of the crawl space. We take the Styrofoam out when the weather turns nice in the spring because if we didn’t take it out, then there would be mold in the crawl space. We also have the door to the crawl space open to the basement and a screen over the opening. Then we have an infrared light on in there all winter. The bulb in the light burned out Thursday night. In the morning the water barely came out of the pipe. I took the hair dryer to the basement and began blowing hot air into the crawl space. I am not saying that this is the correct way to thaw a pipe, I have heard of people who have done this and have had the pipe split which made a big mess and cost a lot of money to fix. This is just how I thaw a pipe. When it was time to leave, there was more water coming out of the faucet but it wasn’t totally unblocked. Beth was home for the day, her school had the day off. When the water pipe began to freeze up later, she went every ten to fifteen minutes and turned the water on. We can’t leave it on because our tub only has an “on” and an “off”, not a “slower” and a “faster” setting. The pipe didn’t freeze. Beth did a great job handling this for us. We got a new light bulb and within an hour or two the pipe was unfrozen. We need to get a back-up light bulb.