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Thread: Frozen hydronic loop?

  1. #1
    DIY Member Backglass's Avatar
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    Default Frozen hydronic loop?

    Hey all.

    I woke up this morning to no heat on my ground floor. I have a two zone system with an older weil-mcclain boiler. The zone upstairs is working fine. I also had a sink freeze up in the back of the house, so I think that is also the problem with my heat. The bathroom was not badly frozen...I just put a kerosene heater in the bathroom for 30 minutes and the water started flowing...no broken pipes either (yay!).

    Now, I assume the loop is froze as well, but I cant seem to find where. There are many places where the pipes go through the wall and I have no access. I spent several hours on my belly in the crawlspace with a hairdryer heating as much of the loop as I could find, but to no avail. I am 90% sure it's frozen, as I can open the drain spigot on the loop and no significant water comes out (other than what gravity pulls out).

    I am stumped. I was really hoping to not have to call in the cavalry, but I guess I may have to call a plumber/HVAC guy. I have read online about these electric pipe thawing machines that look like large battery chargers w/jumper clamps. Anyone have any experience with these? I assume they use electricity to heat the pipe.

    Now, I also assum that it isn't the circulator pump (Taco) as even if the pump was froze-up, water would still exit the drain spigot due to the system pressure and fill valve (which it does not). Correct?

    Any advice is very much appreciated!

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Network Engineer rmelo99's Avatar
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    How but getting the temp of the crawlspace up with one of those salamander kerosene,diesel heaters.

    Just curious if the heat for the downstairs loop is/was working. Moving/circulating water tends to not freeze as much or quick as water not flowing in pipes.

  3. #3
    Master Plumber nhmaster's Avatar
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    The pipe thawing machines work very well and fast but they really need to be used by a professional as there is a risk of burning the house down if you don't know what you are doing.

  4. #4
    DIY Member Backglass's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rmelo99 View Post
    How but getting the temp of the crawlspace up with one of those salamander kerosene,diesel heaters.

    Just curious if the heat for the downstairs loop is/was working. Moving/circulating water tends to not freeze as much or quick as water not flowing in pipes.
    Yeah, that's what I have been trying to do, but no luck. I can't seem to find where the pipe is frozen. The downstairs loop was working, but we had freakish low temps that night (-7.8!) and we were cranking the wood stove so it wasnt cycling as often.

    Things have warmed up, but not warm enough. :-(

  5. #5
    DIY Member Backglass's Avatar
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    Update: On day 2, we finally found the frozen section deep in the crawlspace and hidden behind a bunch of insulation. Hit it with a hairdryer and in less than 3 minutes water started gushing out the loop drain spigot! Purged the air, opened the loop and voila! Heat! It's a VERY good thing the pipe didn't burst as this would involve major house surgery to repair.

    Thanks all!

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