Plumbing advice for frozen pipes in wall behind clothes washer.

Bob_LukenBob_Luken already sucked before joining forum,.....just sayin'.Posts: 7,160 ✭✭✭✭✭
Tried to start a load of clothes and heard the pump trying to pump but heard no water so I turned off the valves, disconnected the supply hoses and confirmed that there is no water getting to either of those valves. Every other water outlet in the house is flowing fine. Dishwasher seems to be working ok. Temp got down to about ten degrees last night. Been pretty cold for a few days now and we didn't do any laundry for several days. This wall behind washer is an exterior wall on the north side of the house. We are on a slab. I don't know of any access to pipes in the attic and there is no access panel to get to the plumbing behind the washer. The only thing exposed is the valves that supply hot and cold to the washer hoses.  I don't know of any cut off valves except the main line cut-off for the whole house next to the meter underground in the front yard.

I have googled a lot on this subject and all I'm doing so far is bump up the thermostat a few degrees and run a small space heater in the utility room that has the washer and dryer. Hoping the walls warm up slow enough and don't burst the pipes in the process. I filled up some buckets with water to be able to flush the toilets in case I need to cut off the main supply if the pipes were to burst.  

Any advice? 

Comments

  • IndustMechIndustMech FIBPosts: 1,873 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Plumbing problems in the winter suck. What you're doing sounds good.

    Good luck.
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  • IndustMechIndustMech FIBPosts: 1,873 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Keep the taps open. Is there drywall you can remove so the heated air in the room can reach the pipes?
    Let's eat, GrandMa.
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  • Bob_LukenBob_Luken already sucked before joining forum,.....just sayin'.Posts: 7,160 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Keep the taps open. Is there drywall you can remove so the heated air in the room can reach the pipes?
    I'm reluctant to start cutting into that wall. I guess I should open up the valves a bit and run the hoses to a bucket in case they want to start flowing. 
  • IndustMechIndustMech FIBPosts: 1,873 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Will the hoses reach the drain the washer feeds into? Do you have longer hoses?
    Let's eat, GrandMa.
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  • IndustMechIndustMech FIBPosts: 1,873 ✭✭✭✭✭
    If the wall is drywall, and you do cut it, cut at a slight angle so you can put the piece you cut out back in when the pipes thaw
    Let's eat, GrandMa.
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  • IndustMechIndustMech FIBPosts: 1,873 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Might be a good idea to turn off the breaker that supplies electricity to both the washer and dryer.

    Let's eat, GrandMa.
    Let's eat GrandMa.

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  • Sleddog46Sleddog46 Quinton, N.J.Posts: 875 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Try leaving the nearest tap to the washer drip (hot water) and maybe that will help thaw them out.
    You can't dispel Ignorance if you retain Arrogance!
  • GrawlsGrawls MissouriPosts: 424 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I would cut out drywall. You can know you’re 100% leak free or not, and then insulate the piping so this doesn’t happen again 
  • Bob_LukenBob_Luken already sucked before joining forum,.....just sayin'.Posts: 7,160 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I pulled the washer out and connected the hoses to the valves and opened the valves a quarter of the way open. Then I set a gallon bucket down and ran the open end of the hoses into it to (hopefully) catch any flow. At this point I had enough clearance to put the space heater behind the washer on the floor pointed at the wall. Then I was doing some more research about this and I read online that bursting can sometimes occur somehow while pipes are thawing under pressure so then I cut off the main water valve to the house out in the yard. Gonna let the heater run for a few hours and see if I get any results. I will take that advice to turn off the breaker to the washer/dryer outlets before I turn the water back on. Thanks for the input. I appreciate it very much. 
  • Bob_LukenBob_Luken already sucked before joining forum,.....just sayin'.Posts: 7,160 ✭✭✭✭✭
    The meter showed zero flow when I went to turn off the water. Next to the main dial it's got one of those little spinning wheels and it was not moving at all. So I'm hoping I have no leaks so far.  
  • dirtdudedirtdude LaughlinPosts: 4,960 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Genius. Talked to your neighbor, the Bigfoot on vherf, he was doing the same thing
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  • jd50aejd50ae West Gnawed Pencil, TNPosts: 7,478 ✭✭✭✭✭
    You do laundry?
    Bill Whittle "Look It Up"

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  • Bob_LukenBob_Luken already sucked before joining forum,.....just sayin'.Posts: 7,160 ✭✭✭✭✭
    jd50ae said:
    You do laundry?
    I do laundry. And ever since that time way back when I mixed a red sleeve baseball shirt with whites and dyed my tighty whities pink,...... I've been pretty good at it.
  • TNBigfoot68TNBigfoot68 Where Bigfoots live, in the woodsPosts: 1,795 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I was lucky, the heater I put under the Utility Room did the trick for me, but it sounds like your issue is more complex. I know the idea of cutting into the Drywall is scary. However, since it is on a slab and it is an exterior wall, I would consider cutting it out and replace it with plywood for an access panel in the future. Definitely wrap the pipes once it is thawed, HD, & L both will have insulated foam that should slip around the pipes. Good luck. If all else fails call a good plumber.
    I was born a fool, and just got bigger!
  • Bob_LukenBob_Luken already sucked before joining forum,.....just sayin'.Posts: 7,160 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited January 2018
    Good news.The hot water started flowing first while the cold was still frozen. There is an outside faucet on the backside of the wall very close to the spot where the supply lines for the washer are. I was beginning to think this area might be frozen up too. The outdoor faucet was not frozen up but I was thinking some of the heat might transfer from the outdoor faucet back into the wall. I heated up the outside faucet using a storage tote to enclose a space heater up against the wall.  Don't know if that helped much but I did it anyway for about 30 minutes. I began to get a little cold water but I wanted to take it slow so I let that trickle into a bucket. I put the hot water hose down the washing machine drain and let it run thinking that would also heat up the inside of the wall and I'm pretty sure that helped to accelerate the heating inside the wall. About twenty minutes later I turned the cold valve all the way open and that went well too. Hooked it all back up and started the washer up. All systems go!

    I had decided I was going to have to cut the drywall until I started to get some flow. I guess I can put it off for a little while but, I still think I need to open up an access point now that I know this can happen. I doubt it would have frozen up if we had been doing some laundry in the evenings on these two previous nights. However, I still would like to have a panel back there in order to make sure everything is well insulated and maybe add heat tape and have future access. 

    Thanks for the all the replies.  
  • TNBigfoot68TNBigfoot68 Where Bigfoots live, in the woodsPosts: 1,795 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Awesome news @Bob_Luken
    I was born a fool, and just got bigger!
  • IndustMechIndustMech FIBPosts: 1,873 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Great update.


    Let's eat, GrandMa.
    Let's eat GrandMa.

    Punctuation saves lives
  • peter4jcpeter4jc Milwaukee, WIPosts: 6,548 ✭✭✭✭✭
    My kitchen pipes are on an outside wall. When it gets super cold here for a long stretch, I'll open the cupboard doors below the sink.  Maybe if you do put in an access panel to snoop around and see what's going on back there and add some insulation, you can make it so it's easy to open and let some room heat in there.

    "I could've had a Mi Querida!"   Nick Bardis
  • RhamlinRhamlin WVPosts: 7,283 ✭✭✭✭✭
    My main lines run under dinning room so all I got to do is keep the door open and I’m lucky enough to have only on faucet on an outside wall. I’ve kept that one running nonstop since I got home. Till this arctic crap finally passes. 
  • 0patience0patience Oregon CoastPosts: 8,733 ✭✭✭✭✭
    If you have to replace the pipes, replace them with PEX.
    PEX is capable of expanding when the water freezes and expands and will retract when the water thaws. 
    Granted, like anything else over time, it will eventually take it's toll on it, but generally shouldn't have any problems for at least 10 years, if it freezes a lot.

    Every pipe in my house is now PEX, just because most of them run under the house and it is possible for them to freeze.
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    Wylaff said:
    Atmospheric pressure and crap.
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