Antifreeze - not just for cars

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Friend of mine, is acting as caretaker for a family member's house. The power got shut off, and the house is cold inside. Down to 37, last he checked. Four burneers on the stove for an hour raises the temp two entire degrees.
Last night, we put RV antifreeze in the drain traps. Toilets, sinks, showers. We considered the dishwasher. But that hadn't run in six month or so, and probably the trap dried out. Washing machine is in the cellar, and should stay warmer.
For $3.97 that might be a lot cheaper than replacing a bunch of broken pipes. I got to thinking. On the way home, I bought myself a jug of antifreeze. Might never need it. But it might be cheaper than replacing a bunch of pipes and such if I need it here, or for a friend some day.
--
Christopher A. Young
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Stormin Mormon wrote:

I don't understand. How can freezing of water in a p-trap present a significant problem?
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Water will still be in the supply lines, probably even if it is drained, and can freeze. If the water was not shut off the house could be flooded when the supply pipe splits.
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Water can be in all sorts of lines you think you've drained. At our cabin, we have one of the pull out snakes in the kitchen. The water in the bow of the hose remained after the cabin had been drained, and it froze. Now, I take off the head and blow through it to empty it, but that first year, it burst. I think I'm going to make a Schrader input, and use air to blow it out, so I can get more.
Steve
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And when the water is turned back on, some future moment. A very real concern for sure.
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Christopher A. Young
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on 12/9/2009 5:06 PM (ET) Stormin Mormon wrote the following:

The water does not have to be turned on. Once the weather warms, the ice in the frozen pipes that cracked the pipes will melt and the water will escape from the cracks. I know this for a fact since I had to respond to floods in unoccupied homes after a long freeze.
--

Bill
In Hamptonburgh, NY
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anyone who desnt beieve water will freeze and break lines and traps in a unheated home lacks common sense.
its a real issue, and tearing into cielings and walls to replace lines is no fun, let alone water leaks when things warm up and water is turned bacxk on.......
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It seems we are hearing the most that this cannot happen from people who have not ever replaced a pipe or p trap that has burst from freezing.
Why is that?
Steve
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During the phase change from liquid water to solid ice, the water (ice) expands. It can easily crack the pipe. So that when the weather warms up, the drain trap leaks.
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Christopher A. Young
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That's true, but not relevant to this situation. Think about it a moment, then forget about it. It's the least of your problems. The supply pipes are the main issue.

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Yeah, the supply pipes have the potential to be a real issue.
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Christopher A. Young
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JoeSpareBedroom wrote:

unless it cracks your $300 toilet.
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Stormin Mormon wrote:

I don't believe it can crack the pipe.
As the water turns to ice it expands, true. But in a p-trap it's got PLENTY of space to expand into (like millions of cubic feet) - in both directions.
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Well as I said earlier the slug of water expands in all directions. Not just the directions in line with the pipes. The pressure that causes is more than enough to fracture stone so the piping has no hope of surviving the experience. Every time the hunters have used the toilets after they were antifreeze treated the toilets break and that is just because the antifreeze is diluted with urine. When they are also fastidious enough to use the sink the S trap breaks. So from experience I can tell you that if the water hard freezes in the trap it will fracture. -- Tom Horne
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Now, that's a real life experience field report. Thanks for the dose of reality.
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Christopher A. Young
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They can freeze and crack, here it get to -20f, eventualy the roaches and termites die without heat but the rodents live.
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On 12/09/2009 10:11 AM, ransley wrote:

Rodents can die also. I saw an electric box full of straw and dead mice after a mobile home was shutdown for a couple winters.
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At my cabin, the floor is joists. All plumbing hangs under there, then goes down to the septic tank.
Temperature in the nearby town was 0 last evening. 1,500 farther up at the cabin, it varies from 10 to 15 degrees colder. So, it was below zero, not just below 32 degrees, at the cabin. If I don't put RV antifreeze in all the P traps, and make sure they have been flushed of water, I stand to have substantial damage. I had a 3/4" copper line freeze on me last winter, and the thing was open on the top end, so there was room for expansion.
I consider burst pipes a significant problem. YMMV.
Steve
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HeyBub wrote:

can't expand along the normal water flow path, it can blow out the trap. Toilets are probably the major risk, and then washing machines and dishwashers. Picture how a toilet bowl is shaped- if it freezes before a lot of the water in the bowl evaporates, it is locked into place on the top side, on some toilets. And in stuff with plastic pumps in the bottom, there is likely no smooth water path like on a siphon.
One year, one of my saturday jobs was changing the locks and pouring antifreeze in the toilets on FHA repo houses.
-- aem sends...
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Unless the drains were clogged, why would there be any water in them? And what little is left in the traps would have plenty of room for expansion. What you need to do is shut off the main water supply valve, and then drain as much water as you can from the supply pipes by turning on ALL the taps, especially the one in the laundry sink (in the basement), if there is a tap down there.
Why is the power off? Reasons beyond the owner's control, or what?
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