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Question DetailsAsked on 11/30/2014

The pipes under my house keep freezing. What can I do?

My house was built in 1920 and all the water pipes are in a crawl space underneath the house. They are on on the side of the house which buts up against another house and gets no sunlight.

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Depending on how cold it gets in your area, just pipe insulation might work (for areas with few below freezing temps and no severe cold), and in some cases installing a recirculation system to keep the water moving through the pipes works - in more severe cases you need to insulate UNDER the bare pipes so they remain totally exposed to heat coming through the floor (making the area above the insulation a warm zone) but are blocked from the cold air under them - can be with fiberglass batt insulation in some cases, in other cases rigid board insulation with an underlying protective barrier (to keep out insects) works better. In some cases entirely converting the joist space into heated, "conditioned" space by sealing it off underneath with vapor barrier, insulation and plywood and providing air circulation in that joist space with a "Robin Hood" type fan or heating it with under-floor radiant heating works best. An awful lot depends on your specific environment, house design, how much piping you are talking about, etc.

One thing you can be pretty sure you do NOT want to do is try to close off the airflow in the crawlspace to keep it warmer - because unless you totally seal it and turn it into conditioned space (at an energy cost) thatis just asking for moisture issues.

In areas with true winters, houses left cool indoors during periods when you are not home, and situations without enough room for insulation to reasonably be put in, sometimes electrical heat tape warapped around the pipes is the only viable solution.

Here are a few similar questions with some info like raising a house which might not apply to you, but some does -

Plumber is probably the best qualified to determine which will work best with your pipes, even though if it takes more than heat tape or wrap-around pipe insulation he might not actually be the person to do the work - that might be an Insulation contractor.

Answered 5 years ago by LCD

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