Heat tape, frozen pipes, alarms

This is a new issue for me. Daughter bought new home this summer, a two-story brick 4500 sq ft. Gas heat, two separate systems, with laundry and gas heater on second story. Washer and dryer on second story, in bonus room above garage. Busy with t-giving and didn't look hard enough for trouble, but when she told me what was going on I got alarmed.....garage still has stuff not moved into the house yet, and is good path for three dogs in and out of house so it stays open. Not real detail oriented cause they are more into bigger projects :o) So, daughter tells me her washer won't work when it is real cold out....commercial type, brand unknown. Well, did you try running water upstairs first? Adjust temp setting on washer? Nothing worked until it warmed up outdoors. So, we go exploring....in corner of garage, back side of fireplace, is inset covered with pegboard...all utils to 2nd story apparently go up there. At base of pegboard are two happy little water shutoff valves! There appears to be a water stain all the way down from top to the valves........good grief.....brain cells start firing......the house two doors down, same size and design, has had a dumpster parked out front for months, repairing flood damage from broken pipe. So, questions....is heat tape a good idea on these water pipes? Matter whether copper or pvc? Different types of heat tape? I've read of alarms...go on a main line or just appliance? Recommendations from experience would be appreciated. (Yeah, she is leaving the heater on in the garage....might have to have one or two teenagers go without food. They have four.)
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On Thursday, December 4, 2014 7:47:24 AM UTC-5, NorMinn wrote:

The first obvious thing to do is keept the garage door closed when it's cold outside. Even if it's used to let the dogs out, it can be opened, then closed again. Having it open must also be adding to the heating costs for the living space.
Heat tape is an option. I'd get the better, self-regulating type, where the resistance changes according to temperature, so it uses more power when it gets real cold, less when it's warmer. They also have small plug-in thermostats designed to turn on when the temp gets close to freezing. Google EH38. But I've seen reports that they may not be real reliable, so use diligence. I've got some experience, less that a year with one, and it's working OK. For that application, probably better to just plug it in and leave it on, with the self-regulating, it's not going to use that much energy.
You might also replace that section of pipe with PEX. Apparently PEX can also freeze and burst, but I understand it's more resistant than copper or PVC. The problem you have of course is that the pipe is apparently behind a wall. So, it's not too attractive to put heat tape on something and then seal the wall back up. IDK what the climate is there. You say there is a fireplace on the other side, so it's apparently facing the living space on that side? If so, depending on how cold it gets, just putting insulation between the pipes and the garage sheetrock might be sufficient.
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On 12/4/2014 8:46 AM, trader_4 wrote:

The space with the pipes is brick on the living side (interior of living room) and open in the garage and with the open side covered with peg board.
Of course it will be kept closed, now that the problem is apparent. With water stains on the pegboard, I'm hoping the feezing hasn't caused a leak already. Heating the 3car garage will definitely help keep upstairs warmer.
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On Thursday, December 4, 2014 10:42:17 AM UTC-5, NorMinn wrote:

It seeems a bit odd that it's a new house with a garage wall covered with just peg board, ie no sheetrock? The brick wall would provide a fire block to the living space on the other side of that wall. But then pipes obviously runup through it to the living space above the garage and the holes for those pipes would provide a path for fumes, fire, etc from the garage to get to the living space. I don't think it would pass code here.

What heating? And the ceiling of the garage should be insulated.
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On 12/4/2014 7:47 AM, Norminn wrote:

Not sure about your specifics, but I've seen pipe foam wrap sold in hardware stores. It's possible that self regulating heater tape inside of foam wrap can help. Heater tape needs contact with the pipe (I think?; read the package). So figure for a lot of nylon tie wraps, or a lot of tape.
If the hot and cold pipes close to each other, may be able to bind them together and use one heat tape, and one foam wrap.
Your small town hardware guys likely to know all this kind of thing.
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Norminn wrote:

Hmm What a big house. How old? Location? I hate any room above garage, never had one in every house I built.
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wrote:

It cudn't hoyt.
Take the same care with the hot water pipes you do with the cold. It turns out hot water pipes can freeze sooner than cold water.

They grow too tall these days anyhow. Less food will do them good.

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On Thursday, December 4, 2014 5:12:54 PM UTC-5, micky wrote:

I'm familiar with the Mpemba effect, but didn't know it applied to water pipes. Is there evidence for this?
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On Friday, December 5, 2014 8:53:57 AM UTC-5, TimR wrote:

I can think of an easy way for a hot water pipe to freeze before a cold water pipe. In the case we have here, where the living space is pulling water through a cold garage, if a hot water faucet hasn't been turned on for 6 hours, while the cold water faucet has drawn water every hour, then if the garage is say 20F, the hot water pipe will freeze first.
The Mpemba effect may exist, in some special cases, but I think most of the reported Mpemba effect examples are the result of anecdotal stories and poorly constructed experiments.
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wrote:

I doubt there is any solid evidence to back up this "old wive's tale"
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On Friday, December 5, 2014 12:20:31 PM UTC-5, snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

pipes. Is there evidence for this?

I'm a born skeptic, but this time there might be something to it. There ar e a lot of anectdotal reports from plumbers and homeowners who say their ho t water pipes froze first.
The Mpemba effect is proven, there is no doubt about hot water freezing fas ter in certain circumstances. My question was whether those would include domestic water pipes.
There certainly is a suggestion they can. There are several hypotheses for why. The hot water heater removes dissolv ed gases as well as minerals, causing the freezing point to be lower; the hot water pipes are not often used during the night whereas most people are up to the toilet or sink and run the cold water occasionally; the hot wate r has more temperature gradients within it and transfers heat better. Nobo dy is sure. I would certainly protect both sets of pipes during cold weath er.
Or, add a recirculation pump. That ought to make you immune.
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On 12/5/2014 1:47 PM, TimR wrote:

HW pipes freeze first because there is less water in them?
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On Friday, December 5, 2014 1:47:54 PM UTC-5, TimR wrote:

t

er pipes. Is there evidence for this?

are a lot of anectdotal reports from plumbers and homeowners who say their hot water pipes froze first.

aster in certain circumstances. My question was whether those would includ e domestic water pipes.

AFAIK, there is no agreement in the scientific community that this effect is real and repeatable. It's kind of like cold fusion, some people report something, others can't repeat it, etc. Certainly the broad, general claims that Mpemba himself made, that hot liquids generally freeze faster, that it 's easily demonstrated, is BS. I just tried a simple experiment myself. I took two shot glasses,filled one with tap temp water, the other with water from a pan on the stove that was just starting to steam, but not boiling y et. I put them both in the freezer, which do you think froze first?

lved gases as well as minerals, causing the freezing point to be lower;
It would be trivial to conduct an experiment to rule this in or out, as well as many other hypothetical causes. It's hard to imagine that in many decades it hasn't been done.

le are up to the toilet or sink and run the cold water occasionally;
Now you're conflating easily explainable everyday effects with the M effect. I suspect that's what's happening in the vast majority of th e alleged M effect instances and probably what happened in the original M case to begin with.
the hot water has more temperature gradients within it and transfers heat better. Nobody is sure.

Of course, that's what everyone does anyway.

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wrote:

I think I first heard about it on this ng, wrt water pipes. It wasn't called by any special name then, so to search for the post one would have to look for freeze or frozen and hold and cold water and pipe, and it's probably not worth it. I don't remember for sure if the poster was telling about what he heard or what he had happen at his own home.
I think it's for real. Wikip gives a bunch or reports for this as far back as Aristotle and including Francis Bacon and Descartes.
Wikip things the definition of freezing is important. Agreement on what is freezing would be important to duplicate these earlier reports, but it's not important otherwise. Whatever definition is used for hot water should be used for cold water, Duh.
Of course if you leave the cold water running and don't run the hot water until it freezes, the hot water will freeze first. No one is talking about that. It certainly seems possible to me that when water is heated it changes physically so that it then cools more quickly. That's a lot less strange than 1000 other things that happen on earth. I've never been close enough to a bunch of water molecules to see what happens.
How long the Mpemba effect would last I don't know. If the water bursts from the pipe, fills the yard, seeps into the drit, makes its way to the stream, the river, the ocean, and is evaporated by the sun, and then falls as rain, would that water drawn from a spring, lake, or well still freeze more quickly than water which had never been heated? We should use radio transmitters like they use for wild animals to track individual molecules of water so we can be sure. And how much of the water in the world has been heated artificially, with fire or electric heat, above the maximum outdoor temperature. Doesn't someone know what fraction of all the water that is?
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On Friday, December 5, 2014 4:52:30 PM UTC-5, micky wrote:

Go repeat the shot glass experiment in my previous post. Let us know the results.

Maybe. But so far, I haven't seen an agreed on reference experiment that reliably shows the effect, that many other credible scientists have been able to then reproduce and agree, verify that it is happening. Have you?
Agreement on what

Agree, that's why I said maybe, above.

But what is hard to fathom is how such small changes could overcome the fact that the hot water still has so much more energy to lose before it can freeze. If we were talking about some special conditions, where one is just a few degrees different, I could see that happening. But the M effect is alleged to occur with a big temp difference, eg like that between hot tap water and cold being talked about here.

But modern science pretty much has been to that level and way beyond. The problem here, AFAIK, is that the proponents of the M effect don't have a simple reference experiment, reproduceable, verifiable by the scientific community to show that the effect is real. Certainly not with water at 140F and 70F, in a beaker or similar, placed into a 0F, controlled freezing environment, that's for sure.
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wrote:

The only one of those that really makes sense to me is the hot water doesn't get used as much - which has nothing to do with the temperature of the water (hot or cold)
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For years I listened to plumbers at work complain about hoses causing outdo or faucets to freeze.
They said the hose sucks the cold air up to the faucet and freezes it.
That never made any sense to me but we did have quite a few freezups in the housing units.
I eventually found out the occupants were leaving the faucet turned on and a sprayer on the end of the hose to stop the water. So I guess it made sen se the water froze all the way up the hose to the faucet and beyond.
When I first worked in a plant a senior engineer pulled me aside and gave m e some advice. He said always listen to the mechanics when they tell you w hat happened. They are on the scene first and they're good observers. Whe n they start to tell you why it happened, stop listening and just pretend, tune them out quick. They are probably going to tell you something that is impossible by the laws of physics. You are at risk of ignoring what they really did see just because their explanation of why doesn't make sense.
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wrote:

Frostproof "hydrants" self drain when shut off. Frostproof hose bibs will drain if they are not installed on an upward slope. The actual valve is at the inner end - generally in heated area like basement. If a hose is left connected, water remains in the hosebib and they WILL freeze - generally pulling the extension tube out of the faucet which is in the heated area -and pulling the washer off the seat, causing the water to try to flow - when the ice melts you have water EVERYWHERE.
Don't ask how I know!!!!
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