With the drop in temperatures this winter, the risk of freezing pipes goes up. In fact, I found myself thawing a few of my own frozen pipes this weekend.
I employed a few of the typical thaw methods you'll find on the internet like:
Keeping a faucet (usually the farthest from the water meter) open with a slow drip
Opening cabinet doors under sinks
Heat tape around uninsulated pipes
Eliminating drafts at exterior walls
These did the trick and no broken pipes, but I was surprised to find that although the building code requires piping be protected from freezing, it does not give definite direction on how it should be insulated and relies on insulation methods that are not actually designed to prevent pipes from freezing.
Below is a brief review of current insulation methods, the problems they have and a newer product that seems to remedy these freeze protection deficiencies.
THE PROBLEM WITH CURRENT FREEZE PROTECTION METHODS
WRAP INSULATION: Wrap insulation does not generate heat. Wrap insulation will impede heat loss within the pipe it encapsulates and only delay freezing by as a little as 1.5 hours.
FIBERGLASS BATT INSULATION & BLOWN IN: Compressed insulation of these types reduces the insulation effectiveness. Gaps in this type of insulation allow for cold air infiltration and eleiminate the insulation effectivesness completely.
Thermal bridging and the gaps in insulation are greater at wall and ceiling framing members leaving these areas suseptible for air leakage and heat loss that lead to freezing conditions.
FREEZEBLOCKER: A UNIQUE INSULATION METHOD
FreezeBlocker is an insulation module that "tents" the pipe and captures and retains ambient heat.
1. Coordinates the pipe placement location.
2. Enhances heat flow into the pipe.
3. Provides insulation with a shell of non-compressible, rigid insulation.
4. Closes air gaps with interlocking modules.
This is an insulation system with a kit-of-parts that also contains a "direct contact block" for piping in exterior walls and the "hot box" for long radius bends of pex or plastic pipe.
For more information, Click for video of FREEZEBLOCKER