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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    59

    Unhappy Did I freeze my friend's pipes?

    Hello, plumbing experts. I have a heating question I'm hoping you can help me with. The bottom line on this thread is I want to know if I'm responsible for freezing my friend's pipes and if I should pay his repair bill.

    Last night I was at a friend's house in Vermont, where it reached negative temperatures overnight.

    Just before sleep, my friend told me I was welcome to adjust the heat with their programmable thermostat, but did not give me instructions as to how.

    It turned out the room I was sleeping in was too warm for me to comfortably try to sleep, so I went to the Honeywell digital thermostat and clicked the down arrow, until it reached 56 degrees. A couple of seconds after doing this, the screen returned to 67 degrees, the original temperature.

    Thinking I did something incorrect in trying to turn down the temperature, I clicked the down arrow again, until the thermostat reached 56 degrees and clicked the "Set" button.

    It appeared this got me into the programming section of the thermostat (where I would set the temperature for various days and times of the week). I clicked "Set" a few times (in an attempt to get out of this feature) but all it did was scroll through the various options I could change (the day, the time, the temperature, etc.).

    Not wanting to screw up their program and not knowing how to exit the programming section, I just walked away from the thermostat. Not wanting to wake my friend, and figuring the thermostat would just return to its default state, I went to bed.

    Upon waking up, the temperature in this zone of the house (there are three zones) was in the low 50s. And, even when my friend tried to turn up the heat, air would come out of the registers but it was cold and never heated up. My friend later discovered his pipes froze.

    * On a side note, the zones in the floors above and below this zone had heat that worked in the morning. They have also never had this problem with their heat.

    My friend insists this was not my fault, but I'm obviously skeptical and the timing of the issue seems to be more than coincidental.

    The question is:

    WAS MY INABILITY TO GET OUT OF THE PROGRAMMING SECTION OF THE THERMOSTAT THE REASON FOR MY FRIEND'S PIPES FREEZING?


    Thanks,
    Erik

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Fayette County, Ohio
    Posts
    5,557

    Default Re: Did I freeze my friend's pipes?

    Pipes shouldn't freeze at 50 degrees. Are you sure they were frozen? It could just be you screwed up the program for that zone and it needs to be reprogrammed.

    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    59

    Default Re: Did I freeze my friend's pipes?

    Quote Originally Posted by JLMCDANIEL View Post
    Pipes shouldn't freeze at 50 degrees. Are you sure they were frozen? It could just be you screwed up the program for that zone and it needs to be reprogrammed.

    Jack
    Yes, the pipes are frozen. A plumber came over and verified this and my friend has been trying all day to thaw them.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    South*East
    Posts
    1,168

    Default Re: Did I freeze my friend's pipes?

    I hate to give you the bad news but you were the cause. Even though it was 50 in the house the heat piping it self may be in colder ares. By turning the thermostat way down it would be a long time before it called for heat, by that time the piping in these areas could freeze.
    John

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    nova scotia, canada
    Posts
    1,522

    Default Re: Did I freeze my friend's pipes?

    reasons like this programmable thermostats arent the best thing to be invented.. their have too much going on with them.. anytime i have to get into something like this i will hit one button if nothing happens i leave it alone.never mess around with things you dont know how to use only causes problems

    when we completley gut homes in the winter we set the thermostat down to about 8 degress celcius just so the pipes dont freeze.. otherwise were wasting the homeowners money via heating a space.. if we need a little extra heat we run a 220v construction heater only as needed. never overnight this is typically after all the pipes have been bled and just to take the chill off of us
    fire up the saw and make some dust

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    The Great White North
    Posts
    4,045

    Default Re: Did I freeze my friend's pipes?

    Quote Originally Posted by johnjh2o View Post
    I hate to give you the bad news but you were the cause. Even though it was 50 in the house the heat piping it self may be in colder ares. By turning the thermostat way down it would be a long time before it called for heat, by that time the piping in these areas could freeze.
    John
    I agree with johnh2o.
    The areas where the pipes are frozen is likely where there isn't any insulation and they are exposed to the outside air or even drafts from the outside . Because the temp was setback to the 50's meant hot water wasn't being circulated often and for not long.
    "" an ounce of perception -- a pound of obscure "
    - Rush

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    1,387

    Default Re: Did I freeze my friend's pipes?

    Howdy. NO you are not mother nature, nor the person whom built the house and likely did not insulate the pipes properly... I have handled lots an lots of frozen pipe claims as an insurance adjustor and turning a thermostat down for several hours just does not do it. Turning down a thermostat that then does not come back on for a couple of days does but that's not a zone but a whole home cooling off....
    The pipes in question need to be addressed so freezing and breaking and flooding the home is avoided. The friends home owners insurance have coverage for these damages but in all likelihood heating the area will thaw the pipes . Here is hoping the pipes are not broken.
    Any an all of my comments are just my opinion and not to be confused with facts.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Houston Texas
    Posts
    2,358

    Default Re: Did I freeze my friend's pipes?

    I don't think you froze the pipes either. Unless other things were frozen in the house too, which you didn't mention. It would have to be below freezing for a few hours to freeze pipes in a wall cavity. Under the conditions you described it didn't get that cold for that long inside the house to do any damage. The damage that occurred would have happened sooner or later.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    59

    Default Re: Did I freeze my friend's pipes?

    Thanks for your opinions, everyone.

    My friend had his pipes thawed by a plumber and there were not any leaks. Considering I pushed the buttons on the thermostat, I sent them the money to cover the cost of the plumber. It set me back only $150, so not too bad.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    SoCal
    Posts
    5,073

    Default Re: Did I freeze my friend's pipes?

    Forget the money. It was important to save the friendship.

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