Well, my humor kicked back in today after that fiasco yesterday. Here's a
sort of 'lesson learned' for any other home owners (or even renters who
don't want to be disrupted and don't mind a small simple job).
1. Main mistake- we forgot to test the pipe heaters this winter. They had
quit working due to simple age and corrosion.
2. Secondary mistake, we ignored the lack of insulation in the garage and
Our bad ;-( When it dropped to 24F, the pipe to the washing machine which
runs through the garage then over the top and back down an exterior wall,
split in 3 places. Copper pipe. Those of you who live 'southerly' like us,
are just starting to get the below 32F temps at night for long enough to
matter. Due to location, leaving a few sinks dripping, probably would not
have helped this one.
Ok, the fix is easy and would have been very cheap (less than 100$ if we'd
caught it before any pipes split). It's also fast to do.
Remove old insulation back far enough to check the pipe heater. Pipe
heaters are long thin heavy plastic coated wires with a plug at one end and
they heat up just a touch to keep a pipe above freezing. Mine actually have
little thermostats in them to cut on when the ambient temp hits about 40F
(adjustable). A ten foot run took 1 20ft unit as it doubles back to cover
the other pipe (one hot, one cold, about 2 inches apart). The plug on mine
'lights up' when it's heating. If in doubt, these are cheap to replace at
If needing to replace, just remove all the old insulation back to the wall
of the interior of the house, and use electrical tape to secure a new pipe
heater run along the pipe. Then, wrap the whole thing with insulation. You
can use precut black foam tubes to make this really fast, or you can use the
wrap around insulation. The precut tubing is what we will use for the one
pipe we now know should still be covered (and isnt but we now have a heater
in the garage). That one pipe is visible so it will look nicer that way and
provide protection if we forget to turn on the heater.
Anyways, hopefully this will help any others who didnt know about such, to
avoid the mistake we just made.