Happy New Years ! Ba Hum Bug for sure

Discussion in 'Off Grid Living' started by Nadja, Jan 3, 2011.

  1. Nadja

    Nadja RIP 3-11-2013 Forum Leader

    Hope your new years is starting off better then mine. I awoke sat morning to no water, a foot of snow and the temp minus -22 Then after breakfast, decided to start my truck and get ready for a trip into town. Ign. Key switch snapped inside , so oh well. Fianally this morning after bypassing my key switch, started my truck and let it warm awhile. About 20 minutes or so and headed to town. Guess what, the six miles of dirt as usual weren't bad, but then the pavement was another story. 20 miles of compacted snow turned ice. I just love the county road crews here. No cinders or salt of any kind. Town was just as bad. Iced parking lots , roads and a lot of dark stores. Seems town lost most of its power while my water pipes were all freezing up. But , my wife called the well man, and it seems most of the pipes around this area, including pressure tanks and storage tanks were froze everywhere. At least I have power, heat and lots of food, plus pleanty of ext. gas for the gennies. This is one of the benifits of living off grid. It may be a week before all the pipes all finally thaw, but in town, it may take a little longer. Not to mention, that the two little grocery stores lost quite a bit of milk, ice cream and meat. My freezer and refer never even noticed. We made it up in the mid thirtys today , so it should start thawing soon, I hope. Well, I will sit here in my nice warm house, listening to oldies on my west. station, and play on my computer for awhile. Those on the grid, lets see, no heat for most as they need power for the blowers in their furnaces, no refers, no freeezers, no tv, no computers . Even hair dryers won't work. Am I gloating you ask ? You bet.
  2. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    Now all you need is to bury your water pipes down below the "Frost Layer" in your area, or insulate then with a slow wrap of Heat Tape, that you can run off the genset, and you will never have to worry about your water system freezing up again....
  3. TnAndy

    TnAndy Senior Member Founding Member

    I lived in the White Mtns of AZ in mid to late 60's. I think it was the winter of 66-67 we had 5' of snow on the ground at one time. I remember the 4 lane street that ran thru Springerville, they used the center two lanes as 'snow storage' to get the other two lane open.....snow was piled so high, you couldn't see the buildings on the other side of the street. Every so often, the left a "hole" in the snow wall so you could make a turn. It was a heck of a winter...the national guard was flying/dropping hay to cattle stranded out on the range.
  4. Kingfish

    Kingfish Self Reliant

    Wow! we were 50 degrees on Thursday and Friday. Now we are back to normal January temps and snow with a fresh 6 inches on the ground and temps around 28. I feel fortunate now after reading your posts. One nice thing about Michigan is that we tend to have slightly warmer temps due the Lake Michigan . But if the big lake freezes over we can get real cold. So far our winter has been mild. We got 120 canning jars this morning adding to a 350 dollar pantry stocking yesterday. I ordered 10 food grade 5 gallon buckets that should be here tomorrow for the new bags of rice and flour, sugar and pasta. W e picked up five 7 gallon water containers with seals and faucets. We are getting ready for that Generator to be delivered and the propane tank. Lots to do. Kingfish
  5. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    Could be true on the western shore, but the interior (Midland, 8 years) doesn't fit that description. Nor is it true in da Yoop (Houghton, 2 years.) An old friend in Muskegon would agree with you, tho'.
  6. Nadja

    Nadja RIP 3-11-2013 Forum Leader

    Bruce, we are below the frost line for this area. Since building code here is at or below the 16" mark, most of the places here are exactly that. I will probable have a new trench dug come spring, buy some 3" pvc pipe, then buy new 3/4" water pvc pipe, wrap the 3/4" and bury it all together , as I want this to be the last time this happens.
  7. Nadja

    Nadja RIP 3-11-2013 Forum Leader

    Hi Andy, In the early 80's it did the same thing. I have seen ShoLow the same way , but out here where I live, it gets even worse. I framed a couple of houses over in the Springerville area one winter. Cold damn place and of that there can be no doubt.
  8. Nadja

    Nadja RIP 3-11-2013 Forum Leader

    I am getting ready this afternoon to order the propane conversion kit for my 7k Kohler and end this choke and gas problem. If you freeze the flour for about 24 hours before putting it into the buckets, you will have killed any bad things trying to grow in it before you pack it up.
  9. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    Be sure the CROWN of the pipe, wrapping included, is below frost. I recommend the 100 year frost, not the average. Remember, the trench disturbed earth will probably conduct heat (or cold, depending on your point of view) deeper than undisturbed. (If you get the 500 year freeze, circulate the water, as long as it's moving, freezing should not happen.)
  10. Nadja

    Nadja RIP 3-11-2013 Forum Leader

    I only see one little problem with that theory Ghrit. Have you ever seen a small stream frozen completley over ? It is moving although it will still freeze. And, totally on solar, it is not feasable to keep your water pump working around the clock. They are huge energy users.
  11. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    Yep, I've seen frozen streams and frozen pipes. You have two things going for you right now. First is the engine fixing, second is that you haven't got the pipe in place yet. When you put the pipe in, put in a crossover valve so you can circulate without using. That will not (we hope) be necessary, but it will be there in the event global cooling hits where it hurts.

    P.S. I personally don't trust buried heat tapes based on limited experience. If you can get at it, OK, they work.

    P.P.S. Moving is relative, of course, Faster is less susceptible to freezing. I suspect a small stream, but cannot know from here what sort of flow rates your stream might have. The size (width) of the stream has a lot to do with it as well. Bear in mind that freezing of a stream is influenced by width, as frost will travel horizontally as well as vertically. If the stream bed freezes, well, you can see where that goes ---

    P.P.P.S. Yes, pumps are energy eaters but far less so than straight heating (resistance) tapes, of course depending on the power required per foot (or rod, or chain, or meter, or mile or whatever my MT head uses to figure such things.) Were it me, I might not put the circulating circuit on the main pump, I might put a smaller one in that circuit. Either way, pumping just might be cheap insurance.
  12. fireplaceguy

    fireplaceguy Monkey+

    What's an emergency for the masses is a vacation for the prepared. I always enjoyed those deep snows and power outages - it's a chance to sit by the wood stove and catch up on my reading.

    Of course, all that goes right out the window if the grid goes down for good.

    Look on the bright side - you got to find the weak links in your systems during peacetime...

    Happy New Year!
  13. Nadja

    Nadja RIP 3-11-2013 Forum Leader

    Am working on that right now. Am waiting for quotes from a couple of suppliers for the conversion kits for propane for my generator and then will be wiring in my sine wave inverter to the house , and of course my system so that once it is propane, my inverter will start it up whenever the batteries get a little too low. We will be fat city soon ! Of course , still will need a couple of more days for the pipes to thaw. But in the upper 30's today, so should start some anyway. I hope ! Nadja
  14. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    Ghrit, I believe that it has been some time since you have used Heat Tape, from the above. I use a 'Modern" type that is made different than the standard Resistance Wire type that you may be familiar with. These are made of two copper wires laid parallel to each other and then imbedded in electrically Conductive Plastic. They are designed to heat at "so many watts per foot" at the 120 Volt Input. You just buy the appropriate "Watts/Ft" and then just cut off what you need from the 100 Ft spool, and if you want to increase the "Watts/Ft" you just wrap it in a spiral around the pipe, which gives you more heat per length. These are very simple, and NEVER just Burn Out, like the older style versions. The Plugin Adapter is just a Wall Plug, with a replaceable Fuse under the cover. I have used these for the last decade and never have had to replace ANYTHING. I usually only turn them on, if we get a Hard Freeze. with no snow coverage. Snow is our savior around here as it insulates the ground when things get really cold. I never walk on the snow above the waterline, and I am down 3 Ft.
  15. ColtCarbine

    ColtCarbine The Plumber Founding Member

    What brand of heat tape are you using for direct burial in the ground? I've yet to install any that was approved for direct burial in the ground.


    Did you sleeve the water piping in a larger diameter pipe? Which would make the most sense to me, as heat taping eventually fails and needs replacing.
  16. ColtCarbine

    ColtCarbine The Plumber Founding Member

    The single most preventive measure to keep water from freezing in piping is flow, usually it only needs to be a little more than a steady drip. Yes, moving water can freeze if it's cold enough long enough but water without any movement will freeze quicker. Moving water doesn't change the temperature water freezes it only increases the amount of water to be frozen. As long as you are not in an environment that water will freeze upon direct contact with the air, you are usually good to go in keeping your piping from freezing.

    So, leaving the water running in a few faucets protects you in more than one way. It could prevent the water from freezing and if it does freeze your piping more than likely won't break.

    ETA: Besides that if the water does freeze inside the piping, usually it won't break if faucets are left running. It's not the frozen water inside the piping that ruptures the piping, it's the excessive buildup of pressure on the fixture side of the ice block that ruptures the piping. The excess pressure has nowhere to go when the faucets are closed.
  17. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    I have my 1/2" copper water pipe, with Heat Tape, then wrapped with 1" of Pipe Insulation that comes in 3 Ft sections, and that sits inside a 3" dia PVC Pipe that was split in half, and put around the insulated Pipe/Heat Tape, and then secured with Stainless Hose Clamps every 6 feet, and at the corners where the 90s are. this whole 3" pipe is then buried 3 ft down, bedded in sand for 1 foot, and then pea gravel for 1 ft and then covered up to ground level with local earth from the trench. The Heat Tape was approved for Direct Burial, I believe, since the Conductive Plastic was on the order of 3/8" thick, and the whole mess was encased in a Tin Plated Steel Weave, that made it about 1/2" total diameter. It has been at least 10 years since I put this in the ground, and I check the Current Draw every Fall, before the weather turns, to make sure it is all still intact. Still pulls the same current, as NEW.

    As a side NOTE, here, we have been thru winters, where the creeks that flow 100's of cubic feet/minute, freeze solid, from the top down, and come Breakup, they then flood, HARD, as the snow on the mountains melts faster than the Ice in the creeks. This senerio only happens when the air temps get down below -10F, for days, or weeks, but that is not unusual for alaska....
  18. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    Water is weird stuff. When freezing, it actually contracts, and the space is filled in with more water. As it thaws, it expands, and that's what causes the splits. Uv cuss, that is in a no flow situation. Leaving a faucet open delays the freezing, and if you can control the thawing progression toward the open end, you're good to go.

    Yep, my experience with heat tapes is not current, the ones I have experience with are the old style that took little effort to short out and blow fuses.
  19. ColtCarbine

    ColtCarbine The Plumber Founding Member

    I meant to comment on this earlier and got distracted.

    Buried at the same depth and under the same conditions, you would be far better served to use Uponor Wirsbo (PEX) tubing w/o any insulation and heat tape than to use PVC with heat tape and insulation.

    Wirsbo is not freeze proof but is far more freeze resistant than PVC/CPVC, copper or galvanized piping. Wirsbo's 25 yr. warranty (the only PEX manufacturer to offer a 25 yr. warranty) does not warranty their tubing from freezing.

    The likelihood of a rupture from freezing is extremely slim but it can happen especially when fittings are installed too close to one another. The fittings are the weak link in the system. One of the advantages of Wirsbo tubing is that it is extremely flexible and available in up to 1000' rolls, eliminating the need for a lot of fittings.

    Wirsbo tubing has many other advantages over other piping materials but it isn't always the right answer for all plumbing applications. However, Wirsbo would be your best insurance against ruptures from freezing.

    Being I cut my teeth in the industry soldering and brazing copper, I never thought I'd see the day that I would be an advocate for Wirsbo for certain applications.

    It is no more difficult to install than PVC. It's so simple, even a monkey can do it [booze]
  20. Nadja

    Nadja RIP 3-11-2013 Forum Leader

    I will be burying my pipe this spring at over 2' deep. I have built houses where the plumbers have put in the wirsbo, and would have to say, I really don't care for it. Not possible for the average person to fix unless you want to spend the money for the special tool needed to put the couplers in. So, in an endtime or shtf type situation, it would be a very bad thing. I simply keep a small supply of pipe and a large supply of fittings on hand all the time. I keep spare water pumps, and more importantly switches for the pumps. Colt Carbine, I have lived here for almost 16 years now, 26 miles from the nearest town. Growing up on a farm in a very rural area, I learned a long time ago to have an assortment of emergancy parts on hand. So, when I go to the hardware store for a pipe fitting, I will ususally buy 3. Same thing with solar. If I need a couple of ends for my battery cables, I buy 10 or so. The boy scout motto back in the 50's anyway was "be preparred" and I sure try to be.
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