Pipes and Winter Weatherizing

After making an emergency run to fix a friend's broken pipes, I'm thinking what can be done so this won't cost me much more time and money.
What broke were bathroom sink lines, just below the cutoff valves. It's an old house, with little insulation. Full unfinished basements, mostly concrete floors. Copper plumbing.
Pipe insulation. I'm not sure this has any impact. Does it?
Water dripping. Seems like a good idea, but these were dripping until they turned to icicles.
So that leads me to thinking stopping basement drafts. The door to this part of the basement was very badly sealed. How much tempering can we get just by sealing basement air leaks? Is it worth the effort? The house is huge. Should I even not worry about leaving some basement ventilation in cold weather?
Jeff
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Yes. It gives you more time before it freezes-- but better to insulate the space where the pipe is. If you can slip some rigid insulation between the cold outdoors and the pipe, it might be better.

If they dripped icicles, then the bathroom was below freezing. Tell them to leave the door open.

If it is as bad as I'm picturing it, start there. Stop the drafts. With no insulation that house will breath more than enough to eliminate the dangers of radon. Then insulate the basement walls to the frost line. Then follow the pipes to the fixtures and stop the heat loss on the cold side of the pipes.
What part of the world are you in. Anywhere north of NC probably has about a 1 year payback on insulating a house. [and the way things are going- maybe 'north of Miami] And if they pay taxes, Uncle Sam is kicking in $1500 on insulation this year.
Jim
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On 12/15/2010 9:18 AM, Jim Elbrecht wrote:

Cheap enough.

What kind and how? Styro?
Then follow the pipes to the fixtures and stop

Atlanta. Couple of girls. Huge sprawling house with additions that look built from leftover construction materials.
Anywhere north of NC probably has

Oh, I have been at this for years with them. There is no money up front for insulation but there is for paying big bills not heating the place.
I think I'll seal up the basement.
Jeff

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-snip-
20yrs or so ago I had an extra roll of fiberglass insulation that I was looking for a place to store. Then I looked in my basement at my 24" thick fieldstone wall with frost on it [on the inside] and decided to just cut 6' long bats and lay them on the stone from the sill plate down. Gravity and friction held them in place. Some of them did the job for 15 years before the wall was replaced with 10" block.
Styro is a better insulator-- but if there are still drafts around it, it doesn't do that much good. I have 2" on the outside now, down to the footer. On the inside I have that foil faced bubble wrap. Pretty good R value for 1/2" space.
I'll bet if you go down in that basement on a bright and sunny day, and turn off the lights, you'll see some places to start. A few cans of great stuff work well to stop the drafts.
-snip-

Maybe you can sell them on the 'insulation is free this month' if they pay income tax. You can buy a lot of insulation for $1500.
I just got rid of a 25 yr old furnace because the plenum was starting to show signs of deterioration. But it was simple as all get out- The youngsters who came to tune it up with their meters seemed to have been flummoxed-- but it could be set by eye to 85% efficiency. Find some old retired handyman who knows his way around a furnace & he should be able to resurrect the old beast - or tell you it is a lost cause.
From the looks of it- they'll need a furnace before the winter is over.
Jim
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On 12/16/2010 8:04 AM, Jim Elbrecht wrote:

I'm thinking...

http://www.insulation4less.com/Insulation4lessProduct-14-Reflective-Bubble-Reflective-4-ft-x-125-ft-500-sq-ft.aspx
500 SF for $100.
That would be easy to staple to the bottom of the rafters. The house has several basements that were added as the house was expanded. I think I'll insulate underfloor where the floor area is less than the wall space.

I've instructed them to do exactly that. The girls are good with crafts (and art) and one of them fixed all my plaster in a couple rooms. It amazes me what gets them completely flumoxed, they are girls and just give up if it looks like a man thing. They couldn't get the water meter cover off and it was held in place by gravity.

You sure can! That is still money up front.

It's odd. The repair guys seem to be able to get it in either heat mode or AC mode. They preferred AC mode and have been toughing out in the winter. This really makes no sense to me. I've looked at it, and it makes no sense, but I know nothing about "modern" furnaces. And have no further info.

I can put about $300 into them and I'm afraid we'll just have to make the best of it. They have just enough to cover the mortgage and basic bills. Most of their money making ideas haven't. It's tough out there.
Jeff

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-snip-
I thought that looked high-- I think I just paid $50 for a roll at Lowes.
I looked it up. Ooops-- that was for 25 feet! So that's a steal even if you pay another $30 for shipping.

A caution about insulating the floor-- Without a furnace, the only thing heating the basement is lost heat from upstairs. [a terribly inefficient way of doing it-- but it is what it is]
Insulate the floors and risk freezing more pipes. If the pipes are between the insulation and the 'heated' space- that would be ok.

Well, if they'll go down to the basement, they are one up on my wife.<g>
-snip-

I've been there. When it is all over you can't imagine how you survived it.
Jim
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On 12/16/2010 11:43 AM, Jim Elbrecht wrote:

It's pricey. Fiberglass is cheaper.

I think so too.

I've done that here. No trouble with frozen pipes, but I have a tighter basement, and insulation on both hot and cold. I think I will add some perimeter wall insulation later.
There, I think I can get the pipes under the insulation at the girls. The back bath has two exterior walls. One interior heated. I think I can get the insulation under the plumbing. The big problem is those two uninsulated outer walls. Blowing cellulose in the walls would fix a lot of evil, without it the house will always suck money.

I'm off to put in a speedo sensor for my 88 New Yorker on a wet cold day. At least I'm not in Cleveland!

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On 12/15/2010 8:45 AM, Jeff Thies wrote:

For starters, just to keep up, leave cabinet doors open so warm air can circulate to the water lines. Also, in extremely cold weather, advice I have seen is to leave faucets open slightly to keep water moving.
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wrote:

Way too many variables here to give good advice. Was the house heated? What temp was it set too? Certainly there should not be outside air flowing into the basement. It isn't rocket science. One good opening that allows air to flow next to a pipe will be enough to freeze it. Don't know who's paying for heat, but it sounds like some proper sealing and insulation could save a lot of $$$ too.
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Just correct me if I assume something wrong.
Old house, furnace with non-insulated ducts in the basement; never had a pipe freeze in one of those 7 hours north of you.
Must be the draftiest basement in the south.
Pipes freezing in the bathroom? Do they have the heat turned on?
To be honest if you were not a regular, I would think this was a TROLL post.
--
Colbyt
Please come visit http://www.househomerepair.com
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On 12/15/2010 7:04 PM, Colbyt wrote:

Old house, furnace currently not working. Series of electric space heaters. Not a real old furnace. Just one that no one can figure out.

Yes. So to speak. But it was in the low teens.

I'm just trying to make the best of a really bad situation. They have no money. So I'm going to throw some of my money and time at it. Lucky me.
I think I'll tackle basement(s) drafts and add some pipe insulation. I've tried for years to get them to blow some insulation in the walls... In fact I've never talked anyone into that.
Right now, I just want to make the biggest difference with the least amount of my time and money.
My rental house has no insulation under floor, but it is fairly air tight in the crawl space. The lost heat from the furnace heats the crawl space and heats the floor also. Very comfortable. Minimal insulation in the walls and ceiling. But it is very tight and very easy to heat. I'm thinking where and how, is more important than how much. At least here. And since how much costs...
Jeff

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Its a very old house, right, it is a new problem that didnt exist until recently, it sounds like alot of maintenance has been neglected and no upgrading has been done, the Money Pit. Ther is no simple one answer.
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