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cowspotter

join:2000-09-11
Ashburn, VA
kudos:2

Frozen Drain Pipe

So it appears I have a frozen drain on my sink. I took the P-trap off and it was clear. I tried running a snake down the drain with no success. I was just hitting a wall and not getting anything back. I called a plumber out and he said his power snake (auger?) was hitting a solid block of ice about 6' down the pipe. He tried to clear it but he was afraid of braking the pipe. His advice was to up the temperature in the house to try to clear it.

I'd like to run my alternative idea by you guys. I'm thinking i can put a submersible pump in a container of hot water, send the pump output down the drain line with the hose as far into the pipe as I can get it, and then let the excess water drain back into my container. I'll likely have to change the water frequently as it will cool off quickly but I'm hoping this will melt the ice, and it'll be pretty obvious when the line is clear since the container will empty. Thoughts? I don't see any risk in trying this and I don't see why it wouldn't work.



Jack_in_VA
Premium
join:2007-11-26
North, VA
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Millenicom

The hot water will quickly cool on the top of the freeze. Ice is a poor conductor of heat so chances of this method working is very low.

I just watched a demo on tv night before last where they had a block of ice and a torch and they wanted a guess as to how long it would take to melt. More than 45 minutes.

What should be investigated is how you have water freezing in a drain line. There is not supposed to be any water in it as it all should drain out.


misnmonday

join:2001-07-09
Grove City, OH
reply to cowspotter

What you are describing is similar to the way we cleared frozen well lines back in the day.
It works and since you are working on a drain line you will be spared the sudden surprise of having water, ice and hoses shooting back at you at 80psi.
We used a two bucket system, one bucket as you described and another bucket with a bucket heater (if you can find one) once the water in the second bucket gets hot swap it for the cold bucket. Remember the water doesn’t have to be boiling, even 33F water will melt ice.



cowspotter

join:2000-09-11
Ashburn, VA
kudos:2
reply to cowspotter

Well I ended up giving it a shot and it worked. I purchased the following:
»www.homedepot.com/p/RIDGID-Repla···00665716

I put it in a roasting pan which fit perfectly under the stub going through the back of the cabinet. I used 10' of vinyl tubing, though only 4' made it into the pipe, filled the pan with hot, salty water and let it go. 10 minutes later i heard the pump making more noise and noticed water was no longer draining back into the pan. I reconnected the sink and let the hot water run for 10 more minutes. Looks great now. This was much cheaper than tearing the ceiling open.

I have no clue why that drain froze. I can't imagine it ever had enough water in it to freeze but clearly it did. The drain isn't slow. Before I reconnected the sink I ran my snake down into the drain well past the point where it was blocked previously and came back with nothing so it doesn't appear to have been blocked with grease/food.



Raphion

join:2000-10-14
Samsara
reply to cowspotter

I'd guess there's a low spot in the line where water collects, and that area also happened to be cold enough for it to freeze.


iknow_t

join:2012-05-03
reply to cowspotter

said by cowspotter:

Well I ended up giving it a shot and it worked. I purchased the following:
»www.homedepot.com/p/RIDGID-Repla···00665716

I put it in a roasting pan which fit perfectly under the stub going through the back of the cabinet. I used 10' of vinyl tubing, though only 4' made it into the pipe, filled the pan with hot, salty water and let it go. 10 minutes later i heard the pump making more noise and noticed water was no longer draining back into the pan. I reconnected the sink and let the hot water run for 10 more minutes. Looks great now. This was much cheaper than tearing the ceiling open.

I have no clue why that drain froze. I can't imagine it ever had enough water in it to freeze but clearly it did. The drain isn't slow. Before I reconnected the sink I ran my snake down into the drain well past the point where it was blocked previously and came back with nothing so it doesn't appear to have been blocked with grease/food.

you keep the room under the sink below freezing?? also, ice can build up over time, until it completely blocks the pipe.


cowspotter

join:2000-09-11
Ashburn, VA
kudos:2

No, I don't. The room below the sink is a bathroom. I believe the source if the cold air is the fact that the sink is in a bumpout over the front door. I've tried to get it better insulated, and it's better than it was before, but it's clearly still has some deficiencies.



pende_tim
Premium
join:2004-01-04
Andover, NJ
kudos:1

In the spring you may want to keep a close eye on the area that froze. Plastic drain pipes can crack if frozen.
--
The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits.



cybersaga

join:2011-12-19
Welland, ON
Reviews:
·Start Communicat..
reply to cowspotter

My house has that kind of bumpout in opposing corners of the house. The one side is my bedroom (and also my side of the bed) and the floor is freezing there. The other side is right under my kitchen sink too.

My basement has dropped ceilings, so I went through all those cavities between the joists where it jets out over the foundation, and used expanding foam in all the corners, and along the sill (the top of the foundation where the concrete meets the wood). Then I filled each of those cavities with insulation.

It helped a bit, but the floor is still cold on my side of the bed. But doing something like that might help your situation.