Prevent Frozen Pipes
LESLIE: Nick in Alaska needs some help with a bathroom project. What can we do for you?
NICK: Hey, there. I have a dry cabin right now and so I’ve got no running water at all.
NICK: I’m looking at putting a bathroom in; you know, kitchen and all of that in. And so I was curious what steps I might need to take to ensure that the pipes don’t freeze and would a foundation be a solution to help that.
TOM: You could install those pipes in South Carolina and not have a problem. (Leslie and Nick chuckle) Yeah, a little tough there in Alaska.
So you’re on a crawlspace right now?
NICK: Yeah, just on like four posts, basically.
TOM: Alright, so it’s up off of the ground. Is it enclosed at all?
NICK: Outside of the house? No, so it needs to be at least skirted, I would think.
TOM: I would think it should be at least skirted. And is the floor insulated?
TOM: OK. So yeah, it at least needs to be skirted or the floor needs to be covered. I would also use pipe insulation on all of the pipes that are down there. Be careful to insulate it right down and into and around the main water pipe. That’s going to be really important because you’ve got to keep those pipes warm or they will freeze and break.
Now is this a cabin that you don’t use all the time or what?
NICK: No, I live there all the time.
TOM: Oh, you live there all the time. OK. Alright. Well, I mean I think that’s all you need to do: insulate the pipes and insulate around the pipes with fiberglass; close the whole thing in and you should be good to go.
TOM: Alright? Now, some people put electrical tape on there, too, but I don’t think that’s a good idea.
NICK: You don’t think like the E-Tape (inaudible at 0:17:29.4)?
TOM: No, because it’s not supposed to be used inside of insulation.
TOM: It could be a fire hazard. OK? So, if it turns out that you’ve got some pipes that freeze, let’s just deal with that separately. You may have to do a better job insulating. But I would definitely not put electrical tape on there at that time.
NICK: Is that the same thing that you’re talking about as heat tape? That’s the same thing?
TOM: Yeah, heat tape. Yep.
NICK: OK. Alright. Well, cool. I guess that’s it then.
TOM: Alright, well good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: What happens? Does it shorten and get like electrocuted?
TOM: Yeah, don’t use the electrical tape or the heat tape. What happens is it’s designed to be air-cooled. In fact, you’re not even supposed to wrap it over itself; like by twirling it around the pipe. You just put it on one side.
TOM: And if you cover that with insulation, it just gets too hot and it’ll burn the insulation. So I’ve seen a lot of people put that on their pipes in situations like that and it’s just never a good idea.