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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, I'm leasing a farm in northern ont. The water going into the barn is frozen. the pipe comes out of the ground outside the barn then goes through the wall into the barn. I have replaced the pipe heater wires that were not working except for the one on the pipe outside.Before it got cold I put a wood box around the outside pipe and insulated with pink fiberglass and then shavings and blown insulation (removed from a friends house) I am assuming that the wire on the pipe outside is not working. Other than taking everything off the pipe outside and putting on a new wire/heating the pipe, is there anything I can do to unthaw this pipe??? I'm wondering if I paint the box black if it would absorb heat from the sun to get the water moving again???? the box is on the east side of the barn so gets sun till around 10:30 or so. it is really cold out (-20 C/-4F today)and I don't want to waste time doing something that won't work/help? As it looks now i have to haul buckets until spring. Suggestions please......
 

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If the box around the pipe where it goes in the barn is insulated the sun isn't able to get the heat to the pipe.

I would put heat tape on any pipe that is above ground. I would also bank straw around the pipe where it comes out of the ground to keep the ground from freezing too deeply.

If the pipe is metal you may be able to get it flowing with a propane torch but you will still need to guard against future freeze-ups. The air lines at my ponds freeze up right where the air line comes out of the ground. Water may be the same.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
where the pipe comes out of the ground has the shaving/insulation around it for about 2 sq feet. It also has 3 to 4 feet of snow banked around it for about 3 ft.the pipe is in the center of the box except for the barn side. There it is about 4 inches from the wall.. Would this not work the same as straw??

If I paint the box black will the sun heat the insulation which in turn will heat the pipe? or should I open it up and let the sun hit pipe directly?

Torch is not an option, the pipe is not metal.
 

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Your best bet is going to be replacing the heating element. It is the only long-term solution. It will also safely and gently reheat the pipe, whereas a torch, etc., might cause problems. You probably need to remove the box and all anyway to make sure the pipe is not split and does not have leaks.

If your heat tape plugs in, you can easily test it across the plug prongs for continuity with a cheap volt-ohm meter, or with a battery operated test light probe (also cheap to buy). That will tell you if it is working or not, before you remove anything.

If you can do it, allow water to drip out of the faucet in the future. That will help keep the pipe clear.

After the thaw, I would definitely have the entire affair replaced with an underground line running insde the barn to a deep inground hydrant. I am surprised such plumbing was even attempted that far North. I'm in the comparatively balmy South, and we still have a hydrant inside the barn.

Best of luck to you -- hauling buckets is no fun.
 

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If the problem is where you think it is, your only option is to replace the cable. However, I would go through the electric wires leading up to where the cable disappears into your insulated box just in case it's a case of loose wiring or tripped breaker before I started tearing the insulation apart. It would save you a lot of trouble if it were only the wiring preceeding the heating cable.

To thaw a black plastic pipe, hot water works well, and you don't necessarily need a lot of it, just a lot of patience. A five gallon pail of water and a cup and keeping pouring it slowly on the pipe. Do it too fast and you are just throwing hot water. Do it slow and the heat from each cup is more useful. Keep feeling the pipe and you can actually tell where the ice is, as the pipe will stay colder there.

Good luck with it. Frozen pipes are the pits.

Jennifer, who was replacing her own pipes yesterday because of freezing . . .
 

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If the problem is where you think it is, your only option is to replace the cable. However, I would go through the electric wires leading up to where the cable disappears into your insulated box just in case it's a case of loose wiring or tripped breaker before I started tearing the insulation apart. It would save you a lot of trouble if it were only the wiring preceeding the heating cable.
Excellent idea, Jennifer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I ahev checked the breakers and the heat wire itself. it plugs in inside the barn, goes out the wall and wraps around the pipe outside. The heat wire is cold and stiff. I guess I have no choice but to open it up, replace the wire and unthaw the pipe. I have a blow dryer I'll use for that. I will just leave it open and hope for the best.At least then the sun can reach the pipe and that may help. I don't want to use hot water as this whole setup is right beside the door. I don't know why the pipes are where they are, the barn was built 15 years ago. Because i am only leasing the farm I don't want to invest in putting the outside pipe underground where it should be but we are moving the tap inside away from the door. The tap is frozen everyday inside but no big deal, a few minutes with the blowdryer fixes that. Once I get it working again I will drain the pipe at night, never thought of that. The shut off is in the house but if I leave it open just a bit I should get it shut off before it makes a mess.
 

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If you are going to leave it open, go buy some of that black corrugated 4" leach drain pipe. Slit it down the side, and slip that over the pipe. Use zip ties around the leach pipe to hold it closed. You want the leach pipe with the slits in it, not the big round holes. I have done this to all my outside hydrants, and it does help. The sun heats the air pocket created by the black pipe. That plus the heat tape will make it good. A lot easier to get to if you need to, as well.
 

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If there's power, you can run a drop cord and place a light bulb near the pipe to thaw it slowly
 

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Yes the snow is a good insulator.

I'm using a 100 watt light bulb to keep my goose waterer from freezing. One bulb puts out a lot of heat. Next I'm going to try a 60 watt to save electricity.

You could put a box over the pipe and put a bulb inside. Then cover it with insulation.
 

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Hey.

You can use a heat gun that you use for stripping paint if the pipe is metal.

RF
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Well my good friend Murphy paid me a visit yet again :( During barn chores after supper i thought i would try the water in the barn. The sun was shining all day and you never know. The water was running! :banana02: :banana02: We thought that we would leave the tap running just a wee bit and shut the water off in the house, this way the pipe would not freeze. Sounds like a great idea doesn't it???? :rock: After everybody went to bed by 11pm except for hubby, he came up and asked me if I was using the water. Ummmm no I'm in bed sleeping.
He says he is going to check the barn because the pump keeps running. Yep the shut off in the house does not shut the water off completely in the barn and now my barn is flooded and we have an indoor ice rink.:mad: The only good thing is the middle aisle in the barn is 8" lower than the stalls so the critters stayed dry and warm. was late for work this morning dealing with the mess. Calling the landlord tonight and telling him to get his butt out here and fix the things that need fixing and to do it right.
 

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Hauling water is a good work out. I should be very buff by spring. I'm hauling to 6 horses and a dozen sheep right now. There is an outside line in summer but in winter I draw water from my cellar. Up and down the steps I go, morning, noon and night.

When it's warm enough, I can get a nearby farmer to draw water from the lake and fill a few 500gallon bins in the barn. A heat lamp hung over the outlet keeps it from freezing in most weather.

Sorry about the skating rink in your barn. I hopeful for a thaw early next week. That will make life much easier.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I work at a feed and farm supply store. Part of my job is to load and unload 25 kg bags all day.I don't need anymore of a work out by supper time lol Up and down the basement 3 times a day? I wonder if we could market hauling water as some type of all natural work out, guaranteed to help you sleep at night and built muscles. Oh the things we do for our critters. I heard rain for us on Mon with a high of +5C whoo hooooo, bye bye ice in barn
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