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Cold weather and the wood shop

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  • #16
    Reducing the volume of water in a pipe does reduce its chances of bursting. Example, a test tube standing vertical full of water will crack, same type test tube half full of water corked up laying horizontally will not crack. Any water pipe that you can save from bursting in your house is a plus! Saving potential thousands of dollars in damage repairs. One of my pet peeves about “builder grade” PEX potable water piping in residential housing is their installation practices. I get it that some piping must be run in the attic. The first thing a plumber will come back with when you question their installation of PEX is that it does not bust when frozen! But they won’t deny that PEX piping installed with mechanical connections and fittings will bust..... and they install them anyway! Some:mechanical connections are absolutely necessary, but not for every twist and turn, and not ever in an attic!

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    • woodturner
      woodturner commented
      Editing a comment
      Good point, draining some water would likely be enough, don't have to drain it all.

      Good points about the PEX, while house hunting have seen several flips where they used fittings, apparently to make the install "pretty". Seems better to run one continuous piece of PEX from manifold to fixture, thought one benefit of PEX is to avoid the connections buried in walls.

  • #17
    I still have my house in Painted Post and I shut the water off after each visit and I open all the faucets. Still, there's water in the toilet tanks and of course in the sink traps. We keep the heat set to 48 degrees and I have a neighbor check the house on occasion. But temperatures like you folks are experiencing would still cause damage.

    I really feel for you guys, no one should have to endure a storm like this. Even living here in NY, I've not seen temperatures as low as those reported down there. I remember a couple of times when the temperature dipped to maybe 20 below, but that's it.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you all, stay strong.

    CWS
    Think it Through Before You Do!

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    • LCHIEN
      LCHIEN commented
      Editing a comment
      I got carried away, while it seemed cold, out temperatures were not negative as I posted, they were all positive.
      When I went to college in the Finger Lakes Region we got temperatures in the single digits sometimes.

  • #18
    My friend in Northern Montana on a farm a few miles from the Canadian border has been telling me about record temperatures of -40 degrees. Doesn't matter if C or F at that point.
    Engine block heaters required.
    Loring in Katy, TX USA
    If your only tool is a hammer, you tend to treat all problems as if they were nails.
    BT3 FAQ - https://www.sawdustzone.org/forum/di...sked-questions

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    • cwsmith
      cwsmith commented
      Editing a comment
      I can't remember what car it was, but I do recall that having a engine heater was an option and I also recall that dip-stick heaters were available too. I remember my Dad putting a utility bulb under the engine block on a few of those winters.

      Perhaps it was the 'youth' in my memory but the winters seemed much more extreme back in the 50's and early 60's. We had one of those "colonial" lamp post's in our yard next to the driveway and sidewalk and I remember a few years where the snow cover it entirely. I thought it was neat because you could switch on the light and the drift would light up.

      CWS

  • #19
    We had been battling mid-60s and even 50s temps until recently. I've been having to wear pants and a long sleeve t-shirt to work on a big yard project.

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    • #20
      The last few weeks here in NY's southern tier have been in the teens and twenties during the day with a few days of snow here and there. Last night we got another two inches or so.

      But that is expected, it's NY State and it's February! But Carlos you make me smile, you're wearing pants and a long sleeve t-shirt and I'm wearing jeans, a t-shirt, a flannel shirt, and a parka, with gloves and a baseball cap in today's 33-degree weather. (Yesterday it was 24 and last week around 17 on a few days.) Yet, when I go to the store today, there were a number of men that I saw who were wearing shorts! (Some guys either have never grown out of them, or they just don't like long pants I guess.)

      My wife and I were discussing the plight of people in Texas, that lack of heat and why so many have died of hypothermia and I was explaining to her my own experience with my relatives in North Carolina when I was a kid. Not only were their houses not insulated the way they are up here, but they also didn't have central heat or any of the warmer clothing, or the number of warm blankets, etc.

      Our house here, was built in 1887, it's been insulated, wiring updated as well as the furnace, plumbing, etc. We even have a fireplace that the previous owners used, and although we don't care for the smoky smell, etc., I imagine it still works, though I'd want it inspected. Our water system is well buried, and insulated within the house and if anything happens I can quickly drain the entire system and the only worry of anything freezing would be if the basement temperature was to drop, but even there we have a shutoff, that is below the frost level and it meets "code", so I doubt it would fracture.

      The house has three floors counting the walk-up attic, and the ceilings are over eight feet, even on the second floor. Everything is insulated, even our attic and basement walls. Our thermostat is set to 72 during the day and at night it's turned down to about 67. But up on the second floor, my bedroom is generally 63 on a cold winter night and therefore we've got blankets. I haven't counted recently but we probably have at least a dozen or more blankets in the house, between our needs and when our son and his family visit.'

      Add to that, sweaters, heavy coats, gloves, heavy sweat pants, electric heaters, LP heater for the shop, etc. we are fairly well set for most winters. The electric heaters are for any short-term outages, but we have never had to use them; and of course they would be worthless with utility failures like in Texas. But between the house construction, blankets, and cold-weather clothing and gear we could still get by for awhile as long as we stayed out of the weather and wind. I could even drive a dozen miles should my scrap lumber run out. This area has an abundance of forest area, in whatever direction you look.

      But in areas where it is normally quite warm, what do you do? I would think having a number of blankets, heavy coats, shirts, pants, socks, sweaters and gloves isn't something the average family in that area is going to stockpile. It's not hard to imagine the desperation when you can't find a warm place to shelter or sleep, there's nothing to generate heat and even your body heat can't be contained in normal fair weather clothing and bedding. Similarly, we'd be in a real fix should our temperature suddenly hit 120 for even a few days and we loose our electricity; no air conditioning, fans, and no where to escape to.

      CWS
      Last edited by cwsmith; 02-24-2021, 02:03 AM.
      Think it Through Before You Do!

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      • #21
        Originally posted by capncarl View Post
        When in doubt if the pipes will survive freezing it is best to cut off the water supply and drain the pipes the best you can by opening the lowest faucet. Being without your water until the temperature rises is a lot better than waiting on a plumber to repair your pipes whenever he can get to it!.
        The whole dripping faucets to keep water moving works well ... UNTIL .... the booster pump on the water well freezes because you've been without power for 26+ hours and the electric space heaters in the well house become useless ... THEN ... no moving water in the pipes, the booster pump bursts and you don't have any way to get water to the house BUT the copper lines in the wall freeze and burst .... Lesson learned ... well without power doesn't move water. A whole house generator is in my future although it will be late summer before I can even get an appointment for an installation estimate. I hate cold weather!
        "Like an old desperado, I paint the town beige ..." REK
        Bade Millsap
        Bulverde, Texas
        => Bade's Personal Web Log
        => Bade's Lutherie Web Log

        Comment


        • cwsmith
          cwsmith commented
          Editing a comment
          I understand about the need of a "whole-house generator", but don't they generally run on natural gas or similar source? Here we see the occasional Generac Ad and my local Home Depot often has a sales rep in the store. But many of news stories that I've seen, says that many in your region have also lost their natural gas supply too. If that's the case, how do you power the generator.

          I've given this a thought a few times over the years. We've not seen a loss of electricity for more than a few hours, but I imagine the worse and try to plan for it. IF I have a gasoline-powered generator and we loose power for days, I would most likely run out of gasoline, so something like a Generac would be the best safeguard for here; BUT, if we lost natural gas, we'd be in a real fix.

          CWS

      • #22
        Some of the news feeds I saw about the Texas freeze showed the fire department having problems with fire hydrants being frozen. This is not a direct problem due to the intense cold, it’s a problem with the utility piping maintenance. The valve on a fire hydrant is buried deep underground and is actually on the water main piping. The valves sometimes do allow water to leak past the seal and fill up thei piping an hydrant. When this happens it needs to be repaired quickly before contaminated water finds its way back into the potable water piping. Freezing is just an unintended consequence of poor maintenance.

        Some people think that you can prevent something from freezing by thickening the insulation. You can add all the insulation you want, you are just adding time until it does freeze. For those of us in southern climates that usually works because the cold doesn’t last that long. Northern climates not so well!

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        • #23
          In Texas and southern tier states the water usually comes up into the house in an external pipe and valve.
          It enters the walls and because we have no basements the pipes run up the outer wall and into the attic where its supposed to be covered by batts of insulation and distributed by dropping into the walls where its needed.

          So Texas homes are subject to pipes freezing and breaking where they are full and exposed (entry) and in walls and attic. The outside walls and attic are protected somewhat, usually they are in the middle of the insulation and the insulation provided by the walls. So the temperature will be somewhere in between the internal house temperature and the external air temperature. So 68 in the house and 8 degrees outside give 38 degrees at the pipe if the pipe is exactly centered and the insulation equally divided inside and out of the pipe.
          Sometimes the insulation is not applied evenly. Sometimes the wall is on the north side subject to North winds that cause bring the freezing weather and cool off faster. Sometimes the sink on the inside of an outside wall has a cabinet with closed doors and instead of 68 in the cabinet the temperature drops to 48 inside the cabinet and now its 28 in the middle of the wall.

          So lots of things to go wrong when it really gets cold. Cut off the heating for the home (power failure, unoccupied) the the inside temperature drops to 48 and the inside wall temperature hits 28.
          In the usual freezeing weather the temperature seldom falls below 28 and not for more than a few hours (usually around 2-5 AM in the morning) so a heated occupied house is in little danger especially if you just protect the outside entry point with some insulation.

          Dripping water faucets. well the water company doesn't like it and will say don't do it. but the plumbers say it works. As they said on the news the water company is NOT going to pay to fix your pipes an repair water damage. So most people here drip water in a few faucets (the outer wall ones are best) as cheap insurance when the temperature dips to the 20's.


          Last edited by LCHIEN; 02-25-2021, 03:07 PM.
          Loring in Katy, TX USA
          If your only tool is a hammer, you tend to treat all problems as if they were nails.
          BT3 FAQ - https://www.sawdustzone.org/forum/di...sked-questions

          Comment


          • cwsmith
            cwsmith commented
            Editing a comment
            Well, just from my own experience up in in NY State, dripping water works, but only for so long. You'll get some amazing ice sickles for sure. A few years ago, the doctor next door either forgot or didn't have an internal shut off from the basement supply valve to the outside faucet. That apparently cracked as it wasn't to code, and it started dripping. I just happened to notice this absolutely massive ice accumulation on the side of his house, it must have been close to four or five feet in thickness. He got a plumber over there right away.

            Internally the temperature will generally never get down so low that dripping won't help. But a dripping faucet can substantially raise your water bill.

            CWS
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