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Pipe Freezing

Mike Kraft_2
Mike Kraft_2 Member Posts: 398

Have a job that has some solder joint leaks. Real tight quarters and may need to dissect perfectly sound piping to get to the leaks . Have weighed out many options including abandonment/new piping. Any way its sliced repairs are eminent and isolation via freezing/capping and repeating the process to get to the leaking piping . Pipe sizes are 2 1/2" and 2" all domestic.

       This is in a small upscale hotel , 2 restaurants and a bakery . Efficient repair time points to freezing . Have looked at Rems self contained unit only sizes up to 2" and Generals unit (co2) also sizes up to 2".

        I'd like to get some tips , advice and experienced nightmares :).......



  • SWEI
    SWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    More info

    hydronic heat or DHW system?  Alternate/backup heat source options?  Sometimes it's better to bypass the bad bits with PEX or hoses and then work your way out of the mess.
  • Mike Kraft_2
    Mike Kraft_2 Member Posts: 398
    .........more info

    Read again. Domestic . Your suggestion of bypass actually sounds good! The bulb went on! I had a permanent bypass in mind not temporary .Thanks dude! Sometimes I can't see the forest for the trees! Still worthy of freezing piping but gives more time to work on the leaks . Two separate hot water mains both have leaks and both are 2" CU the other leaks are on 2 1/2" CU cold main.

  • SWEI
    SWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    DHW, gotcha

    I'd verify required flow rates first, then (at those sizes) install cam & groove to NPT adapters wherever needed and bypass with hoses.  That should buy you enough time to let things thaw out and see what actually needs replacing.
  • Mike Kraft_2
    Mike Kraft_2 Member Posts: 398

    I'm looking for contractor advice on ice freezing machine! I want to freeze to isolate and repair without draining down hotel,kitchens,recircs etc.......
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265

    I've never had the opportunity to try to repair any pipes with freezing. But my biggest worry is always dripping water coming back from the freeze location. And once tight, that the left water inside the pipe will cause a problem and turn to steam. The pressure will blow the solder out of the joints. And a leak.

    I've has success in an account like yours that couldn't be shut down with installing ball valves with drains to bleed the pressure, soldered to copper nipples and installed with a Pro-Press machine. Slick as dog poo on a sidewalk. I had a friend who had a Pro-Press machine I could use. 2" may not be that hard to come by but 2 1/2" is another story. Perhaps you can rent one? You can rent anything you want now days. You just have to find it. If they can't let you drain things for the duration, it will cost them. Don't sell yourself and cheap yourself into a dilemma that cost you. It is really tough to do these jobs. You're not God and can't perform miracles like HE can. If they let you install isolation valves around where you work, it will be worth it.
  • SWEI
    SWEI Member Posts: 7,356

    Somehow I read frozen pipes needing repair.  Press will minimize downtime for sure, whatever the bypass plan.
  • heatpro02920
    heatpro02920 Member Posts: 991
    How long do you think the down time would be?

    I had to repair a 2" dhw line that fed a business complex with a restaurant, we ran 3/4" safe hoses {like an rv hose} to the restaurants sink, and it was down for a little over 4 hours, before I knocked it off I made sure everything was ready, found the leak with the camera, removed the wall panels and some flooring, got all my materials ready, and shut it down... 4 hours of repairs and it was ready to go back on...

    Other times I have just scheduled the repair, I have a few restaurant accounts that are shut down from 11pm to 5 am and the work needs to be done in that time frame...
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    Time frame:

    After doing a lot of projects like yours over the years (0nly one to your level, but a lot of smaller ones), I've come to believe that it's extremely unreasonable for someone to ask you/us to try to do that while keeping the system Live. If the water main broke in the street and it took them all day to fix it and they were without water, they would **** and moan bitterly. But they would get over it. If someone drove a car through the front of the building and the building inspector shut the place down until it was fixed, they'd **** and moan but get over it.

    Sometimes, I felt like an abused dog. Kicked around by a master but putting up with it because I knew where a meal might come from. Only to find later that my master had kicked me to the curb for another dog that ate less and they could abuse more.
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    Pro Press:

    Another big plus for Pro Press is that (I think) that the couplings are like repair couplings, you can slide them back and forth to get them on and centered. Or they make couplings like that.

    Repair Couplings (No Stops) were my best friend when I couldn't get the ends far enough apart to get a fitting on.

    Another thing. When you get those old leaking fittings out, take them out and pull them apart. I PROMISE you that they will be improperly soldered and not enough heat was put on the fitting. That the installer heated from the front/face of the fitting and not the middle. If you heat from the middle and finish at the front, you always know that the middle was hot. Use a rag to wipe away the solder and paste. If shortly after you remove the heat, the solder has hardened, the fitting wasn't hot enough. If you can wipe the solder entirely around the fitting, it probably was. Horizontal fittings leak on the top, vertical fittings on a top joint, bottoms never leak. Shiny solder hasn't cooled and set, dull solder has. Let shiny solder move and it leaks. Pro-Press in your situation is a wonderful thing. If you get them to let you have it off for a while so you can do it properly, use an air compressor or two to blow out the whole entire system of water. That swirling air in the pipes will blow the water away. And you won't get run back from anywhere when you do.

    Use a air acetylene torch like a Prestolite. Its easier to get heat to the back side of a tight fitting. Those flame thrower torches take a certain skill development that I found was a waste of time and money. I just always used, and still do use a Prestolite. I used the flame thrower for long crawls and one or two fittings. Even Turbo Acetylene torches are nice but don't use too big of a tip. Its easy to overheat and burn the solder paste on to the pipe and make a possible leak in a bad spot.

    Me and that dog have hunted those fields before.
  • Mike Kraft_2
    Mike Kraft_2 Member Posts: 398
    more info

    Ok here comes the details...........and I do appreciate the responses!

    Thesis :)..........

    14 room hotel high end

    2 restaurants 2 separate kitchens

    1 bakery separate kitchen

    I do own a rems press tool

    tongs wont fit between piping

    building is OLD rehabbed 8 years ago (everything is 8yrs young)

    mechanical room shoe horned (imagine)

    absolutely no, nada , nothing mechanical legend (all trace work)

    piping is supported by trapeze ,parallel piping includes 2.5" cold water,2- 2" hot water,2- 3" chiller pipes, gas main 1 1/2" (hung from clevis but right there) sprinkler main (1" CPVC?) and 1 1" CU pipe . All CU piping is domestic . piping is shoulder to shoulder I can barely slide my hand in between the runs . Under that trapeze is another trapeze supporting electrical greenfield conduits , communication wiring etc . fastened to that trapeze is a perpendicular strut that suspends fluorescent  lighting .

    the building is old and old framing which each joist bay is foamed . A torch is possible but in this case press is the way .

    my material list does include repair couplings for sure . also caps to freeze and cut other piping out of the way in order to get to the repair areas . I am penciled in for tuesday am to replace a bad PRV on kitchen dishwasher and am going to look closely at piping temps in pex from good pipe and beyond leaks.

    ridgid makes press rings for the sizes I need and I have been told the rems tool will torque the rings . rental has been entertained and is a viable option although my wholesaler does not stock the 2.5" ring.

    and I get the excpectation level of the 5 minute fix. I am fortunate to be working with/for a manager whom is willing and able to understand the logistics of the situation. he also sees we are preparing and planning it in order to accommodate their needs .

    with all this said...........anybody have any pipe freezing experience???

    co2 vs. refrigerant contained system??
  • bob_46
    bob_46 Member Posts: 813

    Mike , FWIW I have done this a few times . I fabricated a cardboard box around the pipe and filled it with dry ice pellets , worked great . Once I notched a 5gal bucket to fit the pipe .

    I wasn't working in such tight quarters. I was working for a large mechanical contractor at the time so if it went south the worst that could happen to me is get run off.
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    There you go:

    There you go. Having to fix some architects bad dream. And some installers mistakes from bad soldering.

    The lack of poor planning (on someone else's part) is now an emergency for you.

    It probably took someone weeks to make those mistakes and someone wants you to fix it in an hour.

    The thought of trying to fix what you have is giving me an anxiety attack and hot flashes.
  • heatpro02920
    heatpro02920 Member Posts: 991
    if its that tight

    will you be able to get freeze brackets in there..

    I was at a job where CJ's froze a 4" main and then welded in a couple valves, this was a huge building, and I was told draining it back would take 30 hours, they did the entire repair in under 5 hours... but they used nitrogen..

    A friend of mine has the small ridgid machine, I am not sure if he ever did 2.5" but I seen him to 1.5 down to 1/2 a few times...

    What does the break look like? Is it a bad joint, erosion, impact damage, splitting????