4 floor (plus cellar) wood frame two family row house in New York City. All
of the water (and most of the drainage) service above the first floor is
served off piping in a chase approximately one foot by one foot (depending
how it is framed out on each floor). The chase is framed by the essentially
uninsulated exposed rear wall and on the other non-interior side it is
against another vacant and partially gutted rowhouse (being held for
speculative purposes) that is totally exposed and unheated. This was the
condition for the past two years. Our pipes froze two years ago during a
winter cold strech and that situation was avoided last year by having all
the faucets on a slow drip and a slow leak forced in the toilet.
The water pipes in the chase are mostly galvanized steel and insulated only
over a portion of their length. The drainpipe is cast iron. There is no to
access the pipes to apply insulation or heat tape without tearing out the
interior chase sheetrock walls.
I was wondering whether there was any way to insulate the interior of the
chase via blown in other insulating techniques? Is this the kind of thing
that a professional would do?
The basic principle with insulating in this case is to insulate
between the pipes and the exterior walls, while leaving the pipes
exposed to interior heat. If you simply fill the chase with
insulation, yes it is insulating the pipes from the exterior cold, but
it is also insulating them from the interior warmth. In this case,
you might get away with it because the insulation is helping to retain
what little heat there already is in the water. Assuming people use
the water at night and then again in the morning, it may get you
through the night on those cold nights. But if you go away for the
weekend, you are back to needing to have the drips.
Best thing to do is figure out how to put insulation only between the
pipes and outside walls. Depending on how tight the space is, you may
be able to slide pieces of rigid insulation down the chase, figuring
out how to minimize the number of access holes you need to make.
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