late (too late) winterizing of water faucets: 24F, can't open outside faucet

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A little help, please.
(Yeah, should have done the water 2 weeks ago, at least!)
Anyway, it's now 24f outside (1am night), can't "open" the valve in the faucet. Try to twist-open the faucet (ie counter- clockwise), won't move.
About three hours ago I started squirting Blaster PB50 "all purpose lubricant" where the stem meets the faucet body. Did that several times half-hour apart, still "frozen", so then I switched to wd40, an hour ago. Still nothing.
Question: do I have to warm up the faucet? Would that help?
(Could do it via "medical" heating pad wrapped around it, that in turn wrapped in what, winter coat, towells, ...?)
Whole idea is to get this done so I can drain the pipe so I don't crack a pipe.
Ideas?
THANKS!
David
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David Combs wrote:

Assuming your temperatures are accurate and my memory is good, you're sitting right at the maximum expansion temperature for water. Heating it should make it smaller. That's good. OTOH, if it's gonna break, it may already have done so. I've never had a frozen pipe, so you might want a second opinion. Having said that, I'd pour hot water on it. Start at the end and work your way slowly back up the pipe. Don't go twisting on the faucet handle any more than you would if it weren't frozen. That's likely to break something. If you can get any water flowing at all, it should open itself up. then you can drain it. Bad news is that if it's cracked, unfreezing it will make for a flood at 1AM.
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On 12/9/2010 2:11 AM, David Combs wrote:

What means frozen? Is it ice, or does it not move? Did it work in warmer conditions?
If this is ice frozen than warm it up and leave it drip. Even if it ices over again and water stops, leave the valve open so the ice can expand.
24 is not that bad for a cold water line. Such water needs to super freeze as it has no nuclei to crystallize around. Problems with broken pipes typically start closer to 20F.
Jeff

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Lubricants won't help. You need heat. Now that it is frozen, you can wait untilt he sun comes out and put a hair dryer on it. If cracked, it won't matter if you fix it now or next spring.
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Bob F wrote:

Tell me that's not an assinine response.
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On Dec 9, 2:11am, snipped-for-privacy@panix.com (David Combs) wrote:

You might want to work on this project during normal business hours.
I doubt anything is cracked, but *if* it is, thawing it out could cause problems that you don't want at 1AM.
My son once left a frozen spigot open. It opened but no water came out, he got confused, wasn't sure if it was opened or closed and left it. (He was like 10 at the time). When the weather warmed up a bit, the water started rushing out and began to flood our basement. Luckily my wife came home soon afterwards and turned it off.
I understand that yours won't even turn, but the point is that it might be cracked yet frozen and might start flowing when it thaws. Slim chance, but possible. Better to be prepared.
As far as heating it, I'd wave this at it, plugged into a GFCI, of course.
http://www.harborfreight.com/1500-watt-dual-temperature-heat-gun-572-1112-96289.html
If you are going to use electricity, I don't see the point in the whole electric blanket-towel thing. Just blast it.
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On Dec 9, 2:11am, snipped-for-privacy@panix.com (David Combs) wrote:

Hair dryer. Be prepared to run off the water somewhere ahead of it if it has broken the pipe. Do it have a shutoff valve inside the house?
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On Dec 9, 1:11am, snipped-for-privacy@panix.com (David Combs) wrote:

You need heat to that it, an electric blanket of a few hundred watts will take many hours to work, maybe all night and thats if you can insulate it to keep in the heat. a propane torch is fastest, maybe 20$, a hair dryer could do it but pouring on hot water wont.
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You don't get enough heat transfer.
The propane torch is the fast way. But you need to be careful you do not melt the gaskets inside the valve if you use a torch. A hair dryer or heat gun will not do that.
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jamesgangnc wrote:

You'd likely melt the solder joints before that would happen.
Because the valve and it's nearby connecting piping is full of water, it would take quite a bit of heat to dammage the gaskets. Remember - the valve gets very hot when it's soldered in place when it's installed - and that doesn't normally dammage the gaskets.
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Home Guy wrote:

Interesting. I would have spent the 30 seconds required to unscrew the top and pull out the valve parts before soldering...but that's just me.
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Bob F wrote:

Because unless you want to flood the area under the tap with water that will soon freeze and turn into a sheet of ice, you can't pour a reasonably small amount of water on the valve and expect to get much heat transfer to the valve from the water during the fraction of a second that the water has to be in contact with the valve before it falls to the ground.
You will have to shlep a somewhat large amount of hot water from inside your house to where the valve is to accomplish this, which depending on the topography of the situation could be a real pain in the ass.
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David Combs wrote:

Since you have already been given good advice, I won't repeat what has been said.
What I will suggest is that you make sure you can access and turn of the water main valve before you go thawing out your pipe(s). If you have a busted pipe, it will be a lot easier to have already determined the status of the main valve, and know that you can shut off the incoming water.
Jon
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DerbyDad03 unnecessarily full-quoted:

I read through all the replies before posting. I didn't see any mention of a propane plumbing torch.
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Dec 9, 5:01 am You need heat to that it, an electric blanket of a few hundred watts will take many hours to work, maybe all night and thats if you can insulate it to keep in the heat. a propane torch is fastest, maybe 20$, a hair dryer could do it but pouring on hot water wont.
ransley <<<<<<<<
Sometimes the content is hard to see, we all miss stuff.
cheers Bob
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On 9 Dec 2010 02:11:28 -0500, snipped-for-privacy@panix.com (David Combs) wrote:

Let's assume you closed the stop inside the house. So you won't get a flood if the pipe breaks, just have to replace it. The fastest way is a propane torch. Keep the torch moving all over the valve body, but stay away from the handle and stem/stem nut. Every couple minutes test if it will open. Hot water will work, but you'll make a mess of ice all around under the valve. If you go that way, wrap a hand towel around the valve and pour hot water on the towel, just enough to keep the towel warm. Water moves heat very well. This will work more quickly than a blow dryer, but you might not want to be picky.
--Vic
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Vic Smith wrote:

It wouldn't take more than 1 full minute with a torch. Probably only 30 seconds.

Usually only if there's some convective mixing going on.

If you can create a closed cavity around the valve (using the bucket method I described) the hair dryer will work faster (and cleaner) than a rag or towel soaked with hot water (which will loose much of it's heat to the surrounding air very quickly). Again, the key is to have some sort of convection happening.
With the towel, a temperature gradient will quickly form inside the towel as the inner part of the towel will cool and impede heat transfer from the outer part of the towel into the water pipe.
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Home Guy wrote:

You guys are nutz.
One of the hardest things to teach engineers is to give advice APPROPRIATE to the situation. There are often many ways to skin the cat. Give help that's APPROPRIATE in terms the helpee can understand.
In this case, we've got someone who thinks that WD40 is gonna fix the problem. THINK about it!!!! Do you really want their first trial to be a 2000 degree propane torch?
A teapot or two of boiling water dribbled over the faucet will get the valve to turn. And you're unlikely to set the house on fire. It's SAFE, quick, easy, requires no tools that he may not have and if it fails, no harm is done. Once it's open, you'll know when it thaws enough to flow and you can STOP heating. Depending on how far back in the wall it's froze, water will fix it. Hot air from a hair dryer inside if you can get at it. Get out the torch AFTER the safer methods fail.
He wants to drain the pipe. Depending on the location of the valve, drain and the slopes involved, it may be prudent to try to drain the pipe before applying heat. Less water to carry away the heat >> more heat to unfreeze the ice. And the freezing won't get any worse if the thawing fails.
And all this is based on an ASSUMPTION that the faucet valve is outside and not a foot inside the wall like mine are. That DOES make a difference.
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easiest solution.
turn supply valve to spigot off. and wait till spring.
if theres a warm day open valve at that time but leave supply valve off.
i have a couple outdoor valves none of which have ever frozen t cause trouble...... lived here since 1972, in pittsburgh we sometimes get below zero for weeks at a time.......
the only problem, the day my neighbors car caught on fire my hose and valve were frozen solid, so i couldnt help, fire spread to their home...
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On 12/9/2010 7:28 PM, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

Again, not everybody HAS inside shutoff valves. Everybody should, of course, but not every builder bothers to spend the extra ten bucks. It is on my 'plumber punch list' which I really need to get around to hiring somebody for one of these days.
-- aem sends...
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