For those in the US, you know that the southern part of the country (especially Texas) is having a very uncommon extended period of freezing weather - >100 hours here in San Antonio.
While not nearly as cold as it gets up north, or in Canada (way up north ), you have to keep in mind that houses are not insulated for cold weather in most of Texas. Water pipes often run through the attics and aren't insulated at all (other than whatever attic insulation happens to be covering them).
Many of us in newer neighborhoods also have backflow preventers to ensure sprinkler systems, etc, don't backup into the public water system. They are great devices for reducing public water system contamination, but the downside is that they are above ground outside and even more susceptible to freezing.
As expected mine froze up the first night the lows were 7 DegF - even with the water driping in all faucets.
So what to do, what to do??
Hubitat to the rescue!
(yes, I know Hubitat may not have been explicitly "required" for this, but it played a critical part of the solution as you will see below)
- Small Crockpot
- Small ceramic cooking dish
- Extension Cord (rated for the service)
- Ikea Outlet
- Ecolink Motion sensor (that also reports temperature)
- Two RM rules (yes I could have done it in less rules, or structured the rules differently. Not looking for RM rule structure critiques. It works, leave it at that. )
- Insulation around the backflow preventer and piping
- Small ceramic cooking dish upside down under the backflow preventer (cooking dishes can take the heat, so to speak, of the crockpot sitting on it )
- Crockpot on top of cooking dish (keeps it raised off the ground, and any potential water)
- Ecolink motion sensor taped to the backflow preventer/lines)
- Insulation over backflow preventer and lines
- Extension cord back to Ikea Outlet (which is inturned plugged into the wall on a GFCI outlet)
- Two RM rules in Hubitat
- Turn ON Crockpot
- Turn OFF Crockpot
Oh, and for those curious... Why a crockpot?
- It gets hot enough (high enough wattage output)
- No exposed hot heating elements to catch anything on fire or melt insulation/plastic
- Sometimes (although rarely) crockpots will crack if you run them dry long enough. I'm OK with replacing it if I have to in this circumstance.
Results (graph from Grafana):
Note 1: I played around with a few different on/off temperatures, which is why the peaks and valleys differ.
Note 2: Oh, I re-purposed an existing motion sensor from my parlor... thus the name "Parlor Ecolink Motion" in the rules. I was in a hurry - no time to rename it. lol
Plus it can do double duty and still cook your dinner while keeping the pipes thawed!
Should go put some chili in it.
Get it? Chili?
Oh, and on a more serious note...
I have been very fortunate to keep power and water (most of the time) through this ordeal so far. Many people are much worse off, sitting in the cold with no water. Not knowing when it will come back on, or if their pipes are frozen and are going to cause damage when thawed out.
I'm not trying to make light of the situation with my OP, I just thought I would share what I thought was a novel use of Hubitat for an unexpected need.
Peace and love. Peace and love.
I come from a rural Mid-Atlantic area which used to be dependent on household wells with shallow-well pumps for water. So, a good hard freeze would typically freeze the well house and the cast iron pump bodies would break, along with exposed pipes. Heat tapes were a common, relatively cheap solution for winterizing. I'd buy a couple when they get back in stock.
I've been thinking about that. I am quite familiar with heat tape growing up in Iowa. Need to ruminate on what I think the long term fix (if any) will be.
I fixed a daughter's well house and water softener setup with the above. They were amazed that such low-tech devices existed. heh
They work great (as long as you have power of course), and are really pretty easy to install. Heat tape - insulation - wrap it with a covering tape to keep it dry.
I don't know if this could work for you;
Growing up in New England many older homes have no insulation in the walls. To keep the pipes from freezing in severe weather one would leave the water running some small amount. The constant supply of "warm" water would keep the pipes from freezing.
Note here the water pipes from the street are about 4 - 6' below grade. Our water comes into the house at a relatively toasty 45 °F.
Everybody is chiding Texas for not spending the money to winterize their facilities but there are regional norms everywhere. Here, we only bury water lines about 18 inches. If we had a deep freeze lasting for weeks here, we'd be in trouble.
When this thaws, we're going to find out just how many Texans don't know where their water main is located.
I hope folks understand that often frozen pipes develop leaks if not big cracks. The leaks are what get you as they can be in a wall where more damage is done before you realize there is an issue.
They're going to find that while pex and the old polybutylene pipe will withstand a freeze, some of the fittings and valves will not. I'd also be particularly concerned about push-on, a.k.a. Sharkbite, fittings and gasketed repair couplings.