how to protect pipes if no heat?

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In the unfortunate event of losing electric power for days during freezing weather, what is the best way to prevent water pipes from freezing?
Leave each faucet dripping, or turn off water main?
I'm trying to compile a disaster todo list.
BTW, normally pipes inside houses are kept warm by central heating. But what keeps the pipes under the streets from freezing?
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If you're there to keep an eye on things, leave the faucets on a slow drip. If you're gone, turn them on full blast and then shut off the main valve to the house. Last, flush all toilets.
The underground pipes don't freeze because (hopefully), they're installed below the frost line - the depth at which the ground freezes in your area.
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If you have a water heater and you won't be present, you should probably drain that device too.
On Mon, 04 Dec 2006 13:04:26 GMT, "JoeSpareBedroom"

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JoeSpareBedroom wrote:

How is turning on the faucets full blast and then shutting of the main valve going to prevent his pipes from freezing and bursting? The solution if the place is going to be left unattended and possibly without power, is to drain the water system and put antifreeze in the toilets

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The idea is to leave as little residual water as possible in the pipes.
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JoeSpareBedroom wrote:

And how does turning on the water full blast and then shutting of the main valve leave little residual water in the pipes? The pipes are going to still be just about full of water and will certainly freeze and burst. To prevent freezing, they need to be DRAINED.
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Worked fine for me in two houses. One house had a valve right by the shutoff, and I opened that as well. This house doesn't have such a valve.
What's your issue with the method? What do you suggest?
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JoeSpareBedroom wrote:

Well, you got very lucky. How cold did it actually get in the house? If all you do is open all the faucets, get the water running, and turn off the main valve, the pipes will still be full of water. How can you thiink water will be out of the pipes from just doing that?
The system needs to be drained by turning off the water, opening all the faucets, then opening a drain valve somewhere at the lowest point in the sytem. The toilets then need to be flushed and some antifreexe poured in them, plus all the drains, like bathtub, sinks, etc.
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Temp: Hovered below 20 degrees for 4 days in both cases.
Lowest point: Correct. But, some residue isn't going to bust the pipes. Have you ever frozen soup in glass jars? The method involves leaving an inch of space at the top, and NOT tightening the lids until after the freezing is complete. In pipes, as long as the valves are open and there's some room for expansion, you're not likely to have problems. Obviously, this will depend to an extent on whether or not the house has any strange bends in the pipe installation (mine didn't).
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JoeSpareBedroom wrote:

20 degrees inside the house or outside? If it's 20 outside, no big surprise the pipes didn't freeze. If it's 20 inside, I would be very suprised if they didn't freeze and burst. A 20 or 30 foot section of pipe isn;t a wide mouth jar. And if it's just a matter of leaving a faucet open for expansion, what does "strange bends" have to do with it?
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20 degrees inside. As far as the rest, I'm not up for a recreational argument just now. If you think my pipes burst and I simply didn't notice, so be it.
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JoeSpareBedroom wrote:

Here's some references about how to winterize a home that will be without heat:
http://www.askthebuilder.com/386_Home_Alone_-_Winterizing_Your_Home.shtml The water that is in your northern home's water lines needs to be drained. Water that freezes in supply lines or traps in drainage lines can cause them to crack. Go to the lowest fixture in the house that has hot and cold water. Open those valves. Go to every plumbing fixture in the home and open all valves and flush all toilets. This will allow gravity to pull the water down through the system. Closed valves create vacuums that prevent water from draining.
http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/tvprograms/asktoh/qaarticle/0,16588,216641,00.html Drain the water heater and all toilets, toilet tanks, and pipes, making sure there is no water left standing in low-lying loops of pipe. Put non-toxic antifreeze (used in boats and RVs) in the toilet bowls (a third to a half gallon each will do) to keep the liquid sealed between the sewer or septic system and the air in the house. Same for the P traps in the sinks, and drains, which will require only two cups or so of antifreeze. Run the dishwasher dry and put a third gallon of antifreeze in it, then run it for part of a cycle to circulate the antifreeze through the pump. I put a bit more in the dishwasher for good measure, and use the
http://www.doityourself.com/stry/winterize How to Winterize a Vacation Home
Water System Shut off water systems by turning off the pump or shutting the valve if on city water. Drain the pressure tank. Open all faucets. Break a union close to the valve so water will drain out clear to the shut-off valve. Drain pump and run a second or two to be sure all water is out of lines from the pump. Flush toilets and dip all water out of the flush tank. Be sure to drain flexible spray hoses in showers and sinks. Drain water softeners so water will drain back from soft water pipes and controls. Brine tank will probably not freeze. Drain water heaters.
I'd be happy to look at any credible references that support your position that all you have to do is open faucets and shut off the main water valve.
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Next time I'm without heat for a few days, you can stop by and watch the pipes not burst.
The antifreeze is a good idea, but I just didn't do it.
As far as references, what did you do before there was an internet? Do you ever believe peoples' experiences if you don't have a web link?
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JoeSpareBedroom wrote:

Being without heat for a few days and having no pipes freeze doesn't prove anything. It can take a couple of days for a house to lose heat to begin with. That's very different from a house that's without heat for a week when it's 15 degrees outside.

Just as I thought, no references, just bad advice. It's like saying, I leave my car at the convenience store, with the engine running, and it's never been stolen, so that's good practice.
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Read slowly:
20 (TWENTY) degrees Fahrenheit
Inside the house
Duration: 4 days.
I'm sorry you were forced at gunpoint to empty the dishwasher this morning.
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On 4 Dec 2006 08:00:55 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

This is a little strange, or poorly put. You should go to the lowest fixture that has hot water, and the lowest that has cold water.
In my cases and most cases that is the same fixture (if wwe don't count toilets) but if it is isn't, do it my way.

Hmmm. valve open or closed?

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On 4 Dec 2006 07:24:38 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

I have 3 bathroom sinks, one kitchen sink, one laundry sink.
One shower, one bathtub, 3 toilets.
What about the washing machine?
Since the water is only a foot above the fllor and the outlet is over the lip of the sink, there is what amounts to a trap in the washing machine output.
What does one do to keep the washing machine from damage?
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On 4 Dec 2006 07:24:38 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

And I forgot about the dishwasher. That has what amounts to a trap also. Antifreeze into the dishwasher drain??
The best mixture is 50/50. More antifreeze than that and the freezing temp starts to rise again. No need to mix it with the water in the pipe. It will mix itself, by diffusion or something.
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snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net says...

Depending on the layout of the house, his method could work fairly well. If you turn off the water with all the faucets open, the upstairs plumbing will drain through the downstairs faucets. If you then flush all the toilets, they're usually the lowest fixture in each bathroom, so they'll drain much of the remaining water in the system. Especially if you flush each toilet again to make sure there's no water left in the tank.
But I'd still worry in a hard freeze, this method doesn't clear the water out of the toilet traps or other drain traps, it doesn't drain the water heater, and it doesn't drain all the pipes in the walls. It really is best to drain the whole system from a low-point drain valve if you have one.
--
snipped-for-privacy@phred.org is Joshua Putnam
<http://www.phred.org/~josh/
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When we lost power for a long time, I was told to open cabinet doors. The house heat would transfer to the pipes easier, and with proper insulation, water wouldn't freeze for a while. Now this is advice I was given.
later,
tom @ www.NoCostAds.com
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