Pipe freeze smarts?

What devices and rules do you use to handle potential pipe freezing? Temperature sensors in the crawlspace to detect freezing temperatures? Freezing temp triggers what as a countermeasure?

Going to get down to 12 degrees here on Friday and won’t get above freezing again for 2 days….

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Longer term, non-automated solutions than you might want, but:

  1. Air seal the space as much as possible. Air flow is great in warmer weather, but it's the enemy for freezing pipes because it allows rapid entry of cold air.
  2. Insulation (after air sealing). Hold onto whatever heat naturally exists.

For a short term solution in the coldest hours, a slow trickle that keeps the water moving can prevent freezing pipes. Perhaps there's an automation project there.

What I cannot recommend, ever, is heated pipe tape. Too many stories from long-time fire fighters. In fact, almost any heat source in a crawl space would keep me up at night (if I had it in my own home or, more likely, because I'd be called out to go fight a fire in someone else's home). Trying to overcome low temps around pipes with localized heat is, frankly, just too often a bad idea in my view.

I live in rural Maine, where it can get down to well-below-zero temps. The temps you describe are just normal here in winter, and many homes date back to the mid-1800s. Yet frozen pipes aren't all that common for most people because they focus on 1) and 2), above.


I automate a Dome water valve to open for 90 sec (the time needed for my well tank to deplete and start the pump) every 2 hours. This prevent my exposed pipe from freezing even in -30°C. Very reliable device I would say because it has opened and closed about 10000 times so far. I have a spare one ready to go in case of failure.

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Mother-in-law used to live in a mobile home.

Underside was insulated somewhat, but they had a pipe heater on the main water line.
They also left one tap running very slightly on the sink that was farthest from the main intake location whenever the temperature dropped below -10C, to ensure water was moving.

I would think you could wrap the pipe in electrical resistance heater. Maybe a product for that or here in New England we have long tape heaters to keep ice from forming a dam at the low side of a roof. Or you can use a for purpose heater like this from Amazon

You could turn it on and off by a sensor reading, or perhaps just leave it on and let it self regulate.

Plumber here.

What lines are you afraid of having a freeze up? Not sure where you live, but we always try to minimize slight chance that something could freeze by always running in interior walls and using common sense basically. Usually here in MA/RI heat lines are the most subject to freezing as by design they wrap around the outside walls of the houses.

Generally want someone has a freeze up. We don't just repair the pipe and move along. Try to find a solution that will prevent it in the future, whether that be opening a little more wall and running it with different way or if you have a trailer or open foundation getting everything up high towards the subfloor spray foam in between the joists.

I think they also have low voltage heat tape for mobile home applications now.

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