New Mexico and Winter / Frozen Pipes Tips

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Last night, the second in a multiple night storm and fridgid weather found my New Mexico house, suffering the February storm of 2011.  New Mexico along with some 30 other states was hit with the mother of all storms.  Our Santa Fe low last night was -18 a new February record and just shy of the all time low of -19.

We were careful but then I wasn't.  We knew there was a freezing issue, in, get this, the inside wall of the first floor hot water heater and one shower.  This interior shower had frozen before.  So, carefully we started the water dripping at 9 PM last eve.  When I got up in the morning it was still dripping.  At 8 AM, I shut it off.  At 8:10 AM the pipe was frozen.  Fortunately all other pipes in the main house did not freeze.

We learned:   Until the temperature comes up to something higher than -9, you can not stop the dripping, perhaps until it reaches 32.  The house has a vent to the roof.  The plumber said that many houses have oversized vents and it would be okay to partially block the vent when anticipating lows such as we were.  He also said that the remedy today, having already frozen, would be to try to partially block and direct heat into the frozen area with space heaters...being absolutely careful to not get the heater too close to the water heater.

Note:  In our house we have radiant heat in our floors with a water heater off of propane.

Later today, we learned the casita, guest house, is frozen too.  Here the mechanical room is on the outside of the building with an open vent to the outside.  We have now blocked 1/2 that vent and put a small space heater in.

Hoping to have 30 degrees tomorrow.


Hope everyone else is faring well.  Stay safe and warm.


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