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Old 12-26-2010, 12:03 PM   #29
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The damage is about half done.

When water becomes a solid, it expands, then contracts again as it cools further. As it melts, it expands again, then shrinks as it melts. The difference is that the fittings containing the ice are all colder during the freezing process and warmer during the melting process.

If the pipes are allowed to thaw naturally, the difference in temperature will be very low. However, if the pipes are heated rapidly, the fittings can be a lot warmer (therefore more expanded) and the risk of splits falls off quite dramatically.

The true damage of leaks is the volume of water escaping. In this case, if the water pump is off, the amount of water leaking is limited to what is in the pipes, heater and tank.

If you defrost the tank FIRST and empty it, then it's just the water in the pipes and water heater. If you defrost and empty the water heater next, you should be able to trap/remove most of that water and minimize damage.

Finally, if you can make a vacuum at the water tank and the faucet at the opposite end of the system, you can prevent almost all leaks from dripping water if the system has negative pressure. Once you have vacuumed all the water from the system, you can track down the leaks and repair them. You can do this with copper by vacuum testing each section to find if there IS a leak, and then using normal methods to find out where it is (which may involve a "little" water.

This will certainly minimize the damages of a water leak and keep costs down, for a lot of effort and jerry-rigging.
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Old 12-26-2010, 12:03 PM   #30
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I've frozen my rig up before, and it will happen again. Its just stuff and stuff is for using.
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Old 12-26-2010, 04:20 PM   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shacksman View Post
Toronto Guy, you have a few things mixed up. Wasagachris did not send you that email, I did. I offered you the use of my brother-in laws place to warm up your trailer, only asking that you pay for the gas to heat the place, as he keeps it cold most of the time. If it needed repairs we could have done that at the same time. Please excuse me if that was to forward for you.
I'm more confused now than ever, but never mind. LOL I apologize for my part in the silly on-line spat, and to the innocent by-standers who had to read it when they were just hoping to learn a little bit about winterizing.

I'll focus strictly on the AS from now on.

Speaking of which....

The temperatures here are supposed to go above freezing on Thursday and Friday. My plan is to visit the AS Thursday morning before work and get the furnace running, and take the plug out of the water heater.

I have a solar trickle charger on the roof of my AS, so my batteries should be fully charged and able to handle running the furnace all day.

I'll be off work at 10 pm, so I'll swing by the AS after work and hopefully be able to follow some of the great suggestions I got on here.

Hopefully the ten hours of above freezing temperatures and the furnace running all day will be enough to melt the water in my lines so that I can blow them out.

Now, about the water heater. If it's toast, will there be visible damage when I look at it (obvious expansion)? Assuming there's no visible damage, and I can get it to work, any thoughts on the pros and cons of firing it up? I'm just thinking that a solid block of ice like that would take a while to thaw relying only on the outside temperatures and the furnace.

If there's any obvious damage, I'll take and post pics. At the very least other people can learn from them.
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Old 12-26-2010, 04:28 PM   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Park View Post
The damage is about half done.

When water becomes a solid, it expands, then contracts again as it cools further. As it melts, it expands again, then shrinks as it melts. The difference is that the fittings containing the ice are all colder during the freezing process and warmer during the melting process.

If the pipes are allowed to thaw naturally, the difference in temperature will be very low. However, if the pipes are heated rapidly, the fittings can be a lot warmer (therefore more expanded) and the risk of splits falls off quite dramatically.

The true damage of leaks is the volume of water escaping. In this case, if the water pump is off, the amount of water leaking is limited to what is in the pipes, heater and tank.

If you defrost the tank FIRST and empty it, then it's just the water in the pipes and water heater. If you defrost and empty the water heater next, you should be able to trap/remove most of that water and minimize damage.

Finally, if you can make a vacuum at the water tank and the faucet at the opposite end of the system, you can prevent almost all leaks from dripping water if the system has negative pressure. Once you have vacuumed all the water from the system, you can track down the leaks and repair them. You can do this with copper by vacuum testing each section to find if there IS a leak, and then using normal methods to find out where it is (which may involve a "little" water.

This will certainly minimize the damages of a water leak and keep costs down, for a lot of effort and jerry-rigging.
Great advice, thanks. The water holding tank is at MOST about 1/8 full. I only left enough in it to be able to flush the toilet a few times on the trip home. I can't remember if I opened the drain on it or not while I was unloading the AS. Worst case scenario, the bulk of the water is in the lines and the water heater.

The pump is switched off, and the battery disconnected.
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Old 12-26-2010, 04:39 PM   #33
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the pipes are pex, but the joints, tees and fitting are not.

most of them are copper and the pex is crimped with metal band fittings.

it's low probablity that ANY of the pex will split,

and ANY consideration of fast vs slow thawing is essentially pointless.

the variables are multiple, leaks at the joints are possible

especially where the pex SCREWS to the fixture leads which are copper.

just open all the fixtures and keep the pump OFF.

thaw rate is gonna be limited by exterior temps and furnace capacity.
____________

if there is any water ABOVE the toilet ball valve and it's frozen, that's a bad sign.

don't try OPERATING any of the valves anyway, till fully thawed, NONE of them.

and don't fire up the water heater.

IF the batteries are at full capacity, turn on the furnace.

find and REMOVED the interior access/cover panel for the water heater.

this is typically a piece of interior facade about 14x16 inches,

and ah, near the water heater.

this will need to come off to inspect anyway,

and removing it will allow a bit more interior warmth to the area.

IF it's only a tiny bit above freezing outside,

consider putting a square of bubble foil insulation

just inside the exterior water heater door, after pulling the plug.

this will help reduce cold air contact in that area,

but if it's really warm (like >45) skip this step.

IF the water heat tank if full and ruptured or bulging there may be signs.

again along with pulling the plug, FLIP the pressure release valve OPEN,

this may not be possible if the tank is full of water and frozen.
__________

it's a crap shoot on how warm to set the furnace,

if it runs more than 15-20 minutes/hour the batteries may not last more than 1 day.

while the solar panel MIGHT be charging them,

keep in mind that cold batteries have LESS capacity, especially flooded wet cells.

good luck and take pics.

cheers
2air'
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Old 12-27-2010, 08:35 AM   #34
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Battery

While on site inspecting the damage, charge the battery off the TV. This will help top off the battery.
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Old 12-27-2010, 05:06 PM   #35
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How to tell if a water heater is toast

Wish I'd taken a picture, but it would be just too cruel.

Last winter a neighbor with a big fiver had to run out of town for a weekend - some work emergency. He didn't check his propane level, his RV froze and the symptom we all saw of water heater damage was the world's biggest Icicle hanging out of the vents and floor surrounding his water heater. I immediately turned off the water supply and notified the campground office. They refilled his propane tanks (billed him later)got a locksmith to open the fiver, inspected for damage, and then set to thaw out his unit for him.

The good news? The water tank was in a compartment that was thoroughly sealed from the interior of his RV. He'd had another one burst and do damage to furniture, carpets, floors etc. This all flooded out of the overflow hose until it froze, then came through the vents.

He lost the water heater - a big 10 gallon one and the pump and some pipes, but at least it didn't get furniture carpets, curtains, mattresses, clothing, etc.

When in doubt BLOW IT OUT!
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Old 01-03-2011, 11:27 AM   #36
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My 6 gallon ice maker install..... ;-)

We had a nice three day thaw here. On the day before the thaw, I visited my AS and did a visual inspection for damage. As nearly everyone (including myself) predicted, the water heater was toast. Sorry for the horrible iPhone pic, but lighting was an issue.

I inspected all of the visible plumbing that I could see, and saw no obvious signs of damage. I opened the drain on my water heater before I left for the day.

On the last day of the thaw, the forecast called for warm temperatures during the day, and a flash freeze in the afternoon. I went to my AS before work, blew out the lines and put anit-freeze in the drains. I saw no evidence of water leaks anywhere. With a bit of luck, the damage may be restricted to the water heater.

My wife and I had been wanting to install a tankless heater at some point anyway. I guess we will just be doing it a bit sooner than we planned.
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Old 01-03-2011, 11:51 AM   #37
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Freeze

Sounds not to bad at this point. The test will be when you put water pressure on in the spring.
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