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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2011

    Default Frozen Pipes in attic space

    My Mother-in-law lives in a suburb east of Cleveland Ohio in a ranch on a slab. When they added on a kitchen back in the day, the pipes were run through the attic. The pipes freeze up each and every winter and they burst about 3 years ago destroying the kitchen. She can not get up in the attic any longer and my Father-in-law passed away 8 years ago. After the problem 3 years ago, a plumber added heat trace to each pipe coming from the water heater and wrapped them in insulation. Would it help any by building an enclosure around the pipes and insulating within that or would that be a waste of time. What about re-running piping with PEX under the flooring. I am trying to think of other options to help out and that lead me here to see if anyone has suggestions. I attached a few picks that were taken after the plumbers work.
    Thanks in advance for any help. Allan
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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Nashville, TN

    Default Re: Frozen Pipes in attic space

    Sir- I am commerical plumber who works around Insulators and Electricans. This is a very well done job. I would have the same in my house. The only thing I see he could of done is to put in isolating valves in case of rupture.

    By building a chase over and arund the pipes would present a problem getting to the pipes if there were to be a problem. As far as runnin new PEX lines in the slab, that would be an expensive project.
    Process of elimination. Good luck.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2008

    Default Re: Frozen Pipes in attic space

    That appears to be more than enough insulation, the seams can use some improvement. I have never seen pipes freeze with heat trace and that amount of insulation, even when outdoors. I would suspect the trace is not installed correctly, or has otherwise failed. Is it possible you are losing p0wer to the trace at times?
    Last edited by ZZZ; 01-25-2011 at 12:07 AM.
    "Lead by Example"

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2010

    Default Re: Frozen Pipes in attic space

    I agree with Z the lines should not have frozen as long as the heat trace was working. But the lines were installed wrong in the first place. They should have been installed below the flooring as close to the ceiling as possible with insulation on top of them. That way they would have been exposed to the warmth of the ceiling below and insulated from the cold above.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2012

    Default Re: Frozen Pipes in attic space

    Sidebar question (and I don't mean to hijack the Original Poster):

    I live in Utah, and have a two-story, where the basement is 3/4 underground--the overhang for the second story is about 4' above grade. I know this because sometimes I whack my head doing work cleaning up grass and stuff under the soffit.

    I have PEX lines that run between the floor joists of the levels, out into the soffit, up the wall around the upstairs tub, and then back into the shower manifold to the upstairs tub. With a cold snap (our first since we've been in this house, and have had this bathroom finished), some of the PEX lines are freezing/blocked to the point that 5 min. with a hair dryer will warm them up so they flow. I've packed the outside with as much insulation as I can to keep warm air from the inside between the joists on the PEX, and keep the cold air away.

    Would a heat trace line be applicable, or even advisable in this case?

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  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2007

    Default Re: Frozen Pipes in attic space

    I will agree that this does look adequate as far as the attic goes, but if there is a power outage, those pipes can still freeze. For that reason I agree with johnh2o.

    But I have a question or two. Are those pipes running down an exterior wall? Is the faucet in the exterior wall? Are you still having frozen pipes every year and if so, are you sure its the run in the attic that is freezing and not the run in the wall? Maybe both?

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