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Novel problem - frozen pipes in VT

Hey all -

In this deep freeze, it finally had to happen to the Old Village School in Wells River, VT. Fortunately, it appears to be confined to one section of pipe coming off the hot water tank (supplied by the boiler) that goes to only one of the 3 units supplied in the building. I made a half dozen calls yesterday only to find that everyone who does this kind of work is booked out 2 weeks.

Help! Can you recommend any plumbers in the area who can get to it sooner? If not, what do I tell the tenants who are facing no hot water for that long?

After talking to professionals familiar with the building (one referring to it as a nightmare), I've decided to consider a serious overhaul (re-plumbing) of the building, if necessary, to avoid future incidents. I thought that frozen pipes would have been dealt with years ago in a building of this age, so suspect that the new plumbing may actually be the problem - added as new units were plumbed.

I don't want to sit here in Colorado anticipating what other pipes are going to freeze...



  • lchmb
    lchmb Member Posts: 2,997
    I would be getting some electric heaters in there to start thawing things out...and save what you can. The more the merrier... I'm in the wrong state to help sorry. It's going to be hard to find someone in these temps...
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 18,923
    Copper? Can you -- or someone on site -- figure out where it's frozen? If it's copper you might be able to thaw it with a welder. Carefully...

    The guys I knew when I worked in that area are both dead, or I'd suggest them.

    As @ichmb suggested, get some space heaters in there; direct them towards the frozen pipe. Check your wiring to make sure it can take them. I'd use milk house heaters; forget the fancy bling things they sell.

    On that specific pipe, if you can identify it and have access to it, use a heat gun -- if it's copper, at 250; PEX at 180 -- and start at one end or the other -- doesn't matter -- and work along it.

    You are almost certainly right that the new plumbing was not installed with any attention to a Vermont winter. So this summer, find some good ol' boys -- there must be a few still around -- and set about repiping so that that can't happen.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • dennis53
    dennis53 Member Posts: 53
    Perhaps Trombly Plumbing and Heating in St Johnsbury?
    (802) 748-1953.
  • dennis53
    dennis53 Member Posts: 53
    If copper, Matt's Welding offers pipe thawing. (802) 748-9700.
  • TMcGroy
    TMcGroy Member Posts: 15
    Tenant says the pipes are in the walls & ceiling, so he can't locate the cold spot.

    How could anyone?

  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 7,328
    The welding machine doesn't care where on the pipe the freeze is. Once you get it running, leave a faucet on slightly until it warms up outside.
    As Jamie warned, be sure the welder knows what he is doing. If the pipe gets too hot, you get a fire. If the electricity find a path other than the intended one, it can overheat wiring, sometimes in someone else's house.
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
    STEAM DOCTOR Member Posts: 1,483
    Ridgid kt-200 pipe thawing machine. Find a plumber with this machine or something similar
  • Henry
    Henry Member Posts: 995
    Open a faucet and heat the room to over 80F. It will slowly thaw with no damage. Nobody puts water pipes in the outside walls in the Northeast, except for mr stupid.