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Help, how to stop pipes from freezing?!

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Tundra man, Sep 23, 2012.

  1. Tundra man

    Tundra man New Member

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    Hi all, I'm a new owner of a blaze king chinook 20 and have a question that I'm hoping someone can answer for me. I live way up in northern Canada where Dec-February is -30 to -40 Celsius. I have a 1200 square foot modular home with the water pipes inside an insulated belly bag. My question is how to keep those pipes from freezing without having to "crank up" the propane furnace too often? Any helpful suggestions from others in similiar situations or in the know how would be much appreciated. Thank you.

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  2. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Haven't heard the term belly bag before. Can you provide a bit more detail on the setup? Is there a warm air duct blowing into this "belly bag"? Is the crawlspace insulated and closed off during the winter?
  3. Tundra man

    Tundra man New Member

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    Hi there, yes there are ducts that go into my belly bag. That is a term commonly used up here, lol. My modular is on steal piles to bedrock and sits anywhere from about 6'( at the front end) to 3'( back) above ground. The skirting around the trailer is sheeted with plywood which comes right down to ground(wintertime I make sure to pile snow along to prevent air coming underneath). No insulation around the skirting; im not sure if this would make a big difference in temperature underneath, due to no heat source there.
  4. Doing The Dixie Eyed Hustle

    Doing The Dixie Eyed Hustle Minister of Fire

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  5. fossil

    fossil Accidental Moderator Staff Member

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    That's a pretty regional and configuration related condition. I don't think there's a really effective way to get your Chinook up in the home to heat the space beneath. (If I'm reading & understanding correctly, what you're calling a "belly bag" I'd call a "crawl space"). What do other folks around you up there do? There are electrical tapes available, among other solutions. Rick

    ETA: Kinda like what Dixie just suggested.
  6. Tundra man

    Tundra man New Member

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    Thanks everyone for your responses. The belly bag is one big "piece of woven material/fabric- not sure exactly what it's made of) that runs underneath my trailer. It covers the width and length of the entire underneath; where it sags about two feet at its middle. I assume it's filled with insulation that covers all the external pipes save for the sewage. I don't think it's feasible to cut it open to put electrical tape on the pipes. I just asked a friend who's an electrician and he suggested running my furnace fan non-stop( once it dips below-20) and this will circulate my warm house air into the belly bag. Only problem I noticed with this is that my furnace fan only has one speed and it's quite loud. Also not sure how much electricity this would use( furnace is a 94). I'm hoping others with these regional challenges can help with their own experiences.. Thanks all.
  7. WellSeasoned

    WellSeasoned Guest

    Where exactly are you getting freezing pipes at? Or are you simple looking to prevent?

    Sent from my SGH-T759 using Tapatalk 2
  8. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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  9. Todd 2

    Todd 2 Feeling the Heat

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    If you are talking about the water lines that go to your sinks, bathrooms and such, they are run usually right under the floor with the main line close to the duct work. The insulation ( belly bag ) that encloses the entire bottom side of modular should hold enough heat in to keep lines from freezing, It radiates down through your floor. However, you half to heat all the rooms with water lines under them to work. If your thermostat has a fan on option switch you can circulate warmer air through your duct work and it will radiate and leak heat off of duct to help keep things from freezing. Make sure there are no holes ripped in the insulations outer seal covering like where someone cut in to hook something up underneath and not sealed back up. That will cause a problem in your winter temps.
  10. Tundra man

    Tundra man New Member

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    Thanks Todd, My thermostat is old school(1994-same as trailer) and doesn't have any type of fan option on it. I will look into updating it and this is probably exactly what I will need. I have already went under and made sure the bag is sealed.

    Thanks everyone!!
  11. Sprinter

    Sprinter Minister of Fire

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    What do others in your area do?

    Keeping water dripping out of each line just a bit would work, but I don't know if that would be prohibitive to do through the whole season.

    I lived in a manufactured home in a cold climate once and the insulated space under the house was very well insulated. What that house had was a deep space under the floor that was filled with insulation with black poly film (like Visqueen) to keep it all contained. It kind of sagged under the weight of the insulation and looked like a bag. The pipes are at the top of the insulation directly under the flooring, which kept the pipes almost at room temperature. The only place the pipes needed insulation was at the incoming points, which I did with electric tape as Dixie suggested. Does this sound like your "belly bag"? If your house is like that with the pipes right under the sub floor, it really shouldn't be a problem unless there are points that are not well insulated for some reason, like at the exterior walls, but even those pipes should be at the inside of the insulation.
  12. Tundra man

    Tundra man New Member

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    Hi sprinter, ya that is exactly what I'm describing. I've found it hard to try and find what others with woodstoves do as I don't know anyone here with a woodstove. But I think I'm going to take the advice given and put some heat tape on part of the pipe that come out under the house and runs to the main city water line.??? I've since insulated my skirting under the house to hopefully help keep it warmer under there.
  13. Sprinter

    Sprinter Minister of Fire

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    You should be fine, but I'll admit that 40 below is a bit out of my experience level :eek:. Come to think of it, it did get that cold once in Spokane. I didn't like it... As Todd2 said, you will have to heat all the rooms that may have pipes under them. Keep water dripping when in doubt and don't ever leave the house unattended, as we did in Spokane once which broke pipes and flooded the finished basement while we were gone. What a mess. I was a kid, but still remember that.
  14. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Good to hear that you insulated the crawlspace walls. Every bit helps. If it was -40F outside I think I would be running the wood stove and letting the propane furnace cycle. Is the propane tank buried so that the gas will still flow at that temp?

    Also, is the Chinook connected with an outside air kit?
  15. WellSeasoned

    WellSeasoned Guest

    I built a little house looking thing where my pipe comes up from the ground and into the house. I insulated it and added a simple light to it with a 40 watt bulb and haven't had an issue yet. Just have to check on the bulb a couple times a week.
  16. mellow

    mellow Resident Stove Connoisseur

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    Hrmm... can't find anything on BK's website about the Chinook 20 being modular/trailer approved.
  17. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Page 20 of the Chinook manual covers mobile home installation.
  18. blades

    blades Minister of Fire

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    Yep, you have to keep warmer air flowing through that central duct, that is how they are designed to keep the pipes from freezing. In your temps even with a sealed belly bag its going to be a problem with out using the propane. ( got the T-shirt) The heat tapes might be your only way, not cheap and do not last all that long, couple years at most. Every one I had failed at its thermostat. As your registers are likely in the floor I would get a fan to fit one of them and blow into the ducting as you stated that your propane control does not have a fan only setting. Or replace the propane thermostat with one that does have that option. Typically the control would be one designed for heat/central AC.
  19. AKSHADOW

    AKSHADOW Member

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    You said that the skirting is just plywood? Running rigid foam all the way round on the inside of the skirting WILL help for sure. A lot of the houses around here are up on pilings or posts - and that is one big thing that definitely helps when trying to keep the floors warm.
  20. tcassavaugh

    tcassavaugh Minister of Fire

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    -30 to -40 Celsius is REALLY cold. more power to you for being able to operate in that kind of harshness. I'm from upstate N.Y. and growing up it got down to -15 F to -20F once in awhile. had diesel fuel gel once. hope you figure it out. thawing out pipes is never a fun job.

    cass
  21. Tundra man

    Tundra man New Member

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    Thanks everyone for your helpful advice. Just to answer some questions, we have an electrical warming blanket that wraps around the propane tank to keep it from gelling.

    I think what I have to do is a few things. I have now insulated the plywood skirting so that should help keep it somewhat warmer underneath. I will moved the thermostat down the hallway to the coldest area of the house. I'm going to purchase $325) a three speed furnace blower that I can set on a lower speed that will push the warm house air generated from the woodstove down into the floor ducts to reach the belly bag. Lastly I may just have to let the furnace do its job while I'm at work and not rely on woodstove heating when I'm at work. This way I can at least be home in the event that pipes start freezing up. So long as I run the water every once In a while and turn the furnace on for a quick blast every so often. This should do the trick and prevent frozen pipes. Thanks again everyone, cheers.
  22. bridgerman

    bridgerman Member

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    You could get a ThermGuard when you get a blower fan that runs off a fan switch. It can be set to periodically turn the fan on so you don't need to waste the energy of running the fan constantly.

    just google ThermGuard or see www.bearmountaindesign.com

    If you can find your fan switch connection on your existing air handling unit (AHU), ThermGuard can be connected directly there without attaching to the thermostat. There is usually a schematic on the sheet metal of the AHU thast might point you to the spot.

    Bridgerman
  23. dorkweed

    dorkweed Guest



    You have any farmers/ranchers nearby that would part with year or two old hay or straw bales???? You can bank them up against the "skirt" of your trailer and then when you get the snow..........you're even better off insulationwise!!!

    You need to pull them away in early Spring when things start thawing though!!!
  24. jacksnipe

    jacksnipe Member

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    Research the Hot Water Lobster online, to prevent frozen pipes
  25. rijim

    rijim Member

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    Can you push air through the belly area with something like this? $200 at Grainger.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Inline Centrifugal Duct Fan,9-5/8 In. L
    Item # 5C516
    Inline Centrifugal Duct Fan, Housing Material Thermoplastic, Fits Duct Dia. 4 In., Voltage 120, Max. Amps 0.18, Max. Wattage 19, Number of Speeds 1
    • [​IMG]
    FANTECH
    FR100

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