How much heat to keep pipes from freezing

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    Here in winter, most days it at least gets above freezing. (Alabama/Georgia) The nights are supposed to be down in the low 20s this week.     In my sister's house, the water heater is in a utility room with no heat. The hot water pipe is in an outside wall so her hot water freezes during these cold times. I have suggested she put a 100W bulb in the overhead light and leave it on to keep the pipes from freezing. This has helped, but it still freezes if the temp stays below freezing for more than a day.     She only needs enough heat in the small x small room to keep the pipe from freezing. A 100W lamp is not enough and a room heater is really too much. Can someone suggest something in between?
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I'd just keep a hot water faucet open so just a trickle is running. Probably more effective and not much money. A 100W bulb in the middle of a room isn't going to do much. You'd have to have more like 500W, one of the little heaters from Walmart or similar to heat the room enough. Must not be insulation in that wall either or it would take more to freeze it.
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On 1/9/2011 2:24 PM, snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

A thermostatically controlled heat tape on however much of the pipe you can get to. For the part buried in the outside wall, next time it breaks and you have to open up the wall anyway, reroute it, or at least insulate the heck out of it.
My house in Louisiana has the WH in the garage storage shed. Shares a wall with the house, and enough heat leaks through to keep it from freezing. I wouldn't build things that way, but when the budget only covers existing houses, what're ya gonna do?
--
aem sends...

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wrote:

Heat tape would be a good idea if it wasn't me that would have to install it (I don't mind doing it, but my health is not best). She has a brother in law in the same state that does her plumbing. I live one state away.
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wrote:

A smart 12 year old could install heat tape.
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On Sun, 9 Jan 2011 18:52:01 -0500, "JoeSpareBedroom"

Don't I wish I were still 12? How about a 52 year old liver transplant patient with thrombocytopenia?
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wrote:

So, find a smart 12 year old!
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Only Mormons. The rest of us are OK.
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wrote Re Re: How much heat to keep pipes from freezing:

Be aware however that it is not unusual for the thermostat on heat tape to fail and not turn on the tape heat when it is needed. I just got finished fixing two failed heat tapes down at the barn here in northwest Alabama.
It's looking like the 2010-2011 winter will be the coldest we have had in 30 years. We just got 8" of snow last night. That's the second snow in the past month.
--
Work is the curse of the drinking class.

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Do a google search for "pipe heating cables" and you'll find some useful solutions.
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?

The cost of repairing the pipes is probably more that any method of prevention.
I'd use a small space heater on low, with a timer. Maybe run a half hour every few hours.
You can also wrap the pipe (if exposed) in pipe heating tape. It will keep it above freezing at minimal cost. Next is to leave the faucet running at a tiny trickle. If there is a door to the utility room that opens to a heated space, leave it open when cold.
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wrote:

A timer is a very good idea. I was trying to think of something that would only come on when the temp gets to 32. A timer seems like the next best thing.
The WH is in her laundry room. It is part of the garage and no insulation.
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I know there are some that are designed to work at low temperatuers. I have installed a few where I work in some small (about 6x6 feet buildings with water pipes) . There were connected to some 240 volt heaters of around 1500 watts. I don't know what the brand is or where to get them as the purchant department ordered them. I don't know how low the common portable heaters will go. Probably not near low enough to keep the power bill down. Howver one of those thermostats could be put in series with the portable heater.
I still think the heat tape and some insulation would be the way to go if possiable. You can buy strips of it with a thermostat already on it that will plug into a 120 volt outlet. Then some insulation and you do not have to heat the whole aea at a big waste of power.
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Google for "heat tape", used in severe cold climes to prevent pipes from freezing. Buy as much or as little as you need. It's a "must" where I live. Here's a start.
http://plumbing.hardwarestore.com/52-299-heat-tape.aspx
nb
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wrote:

2 100 watt bulbs??? One close to the pipe in question??
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On 1/9/2011 2:18 PM, Metspitzer wrote:

Pipes on an outside wall are even a bad idea in a heated room. I had a similar situation where pipes in a heated room ran overhead an unheated room, a small storage area, and I also put a light bulb there to no avail and pipes froze and broke. Only good solution is to use heating tapes on pipe but access is not always good. In my case, I had pipes rerun through heated space.
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On Sun, 09 Jan 2011 15:03:06 -0500, Frank

I am not exactly sure of the story of how it happened but the entire house is on a poured slab so nothing in the floor. It would have also been a good idea to have the WH inside somewhere out of the way.
I could not believe it the first time she told me her hot water froze.
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On 1/9/2011 6:21 PM, Metspitzer wrote:

Actually more likely. "Pure" water has to super freeze and won't crystalize until the mid 20's. The water heater adds a nuclei for the water to freeze around.
I'd insulate the pipes and let the hot water drip inside somewhere.
Consider insulating the room. The water heater will add some heat, probably more than that 100W bulb. 300 BTUs in an uninsulated room won't be much. And consider the heat tape others have mentioned.
Jeff
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Inside takes valuable space. My WH is in the attic over the garage, where a "bonus room" (FROG) would be. There aren't enough cold days to make it worthwhile to devote expensive floor space for the WH. Your sister's freezes, which is certainly a bad design, but it's generally a good bet to use "cheaper" space.

Hell, that was common in the NE. Idiots would route water (usually the hydronic heat lines) in the cantilevered area of a "raised ranch".
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Metspitzer wrote:

The old fashioned heat lamp or brooder lamp might help. Examples here at Amazon: > http://tinyurl.com/2d2bje2
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