Freezing pipes is a quick and efficient way to make plumbing repairs without shutting off the water when it is impossible or impractical to do so or to completely drain the plumbing system. When repairing or replacing water pipes in older homes or installations, shut-off valves often fail. In apartments or commercial buildings, shutting off water or draining pipes can be inconvenient for people in the building and finding shutoff valves can be a challenge says hamilton plumber.
Freeze kits form a small plug of ice inside the pipe that can withstand water pressure long enough to allow you to install a T or service valve. This method works on copper, plastic or metal pipes, both small and large.
There are two types of freezing kits: aerosol and electric. Both work on the same principle: evaporating a volatile fluid around the pipe. When evaporation occurs, the gas molecules escape from the liquid by absorbing enough heat from the pipe to freeze the water inside.
The aerosol freezing kit uses an insulating cover that keeps the liquid in a closed atmosphere around the pipe.
The electric freezing machine retains the fluid in a closed circuit so that nothing is lost in the process. The motor drives a pump that compresses the gas and a heat exchanger that cools it to a liquid state to circulate in the freezing head.
The freezing head is clamped to the pipe and fluid flows through a small capillary tube. A larger space inside the head allows the fluid to expand, and this evaporation cools the pipe to create the ice cap inside. The expanded steam returns back to the compressor and the process is repeated.
Preparation for Freezing – Plumbing Services
The most important thing before starting plumbing repairs without shutting off the water is to stop all water flow into the pipe. Even a small leak from the faucet is enough to prevent freezing. If working with a hot water pipe, be sure to turn off any circulating pump and allow the pipe to cool down.
If possible, freeze horizontal sections of pipe instead of a vertical one. Natural convection of heat in a vertical pipe can cause movement and reduce the life of the ice plug.
Heating system piping may contain antifreeze or corrosion inhibitors. This can increase the time it takes to freeze the pipe says a plumber hamilton.
Seamless joints, such as compression couplers, work well, especially if space is limited. Welded joints can be used, but leave one or two inches between the coupler and the freeze cover so the weld does not affect the ice cap.
Use of aerosol spraying equipment
One way to make plumbing repairs without cutting off the water is to use spray equipment. When using an aerosol spray kit, keep the workspace well ventilated. Heat, flames, or smoking near the freezer cover or in contact with the sprayer can cause harmful vapors. Wear gloves and face and eye protection when working with the aerosol, as the skin will freeze on contact.
Place the freeze cover around the pipe, a few inches from the work area, and securely tie each end of the cover with ribbons or ropes. Connect the extension tubing from the cover to the aerosol can and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Inject the dose of freezer into the cover. The manufacturer’s instructions will include a table indicating how long to wait after the injection for the ice cap to form, based on the type and diameter of the pipe. The instructions will also say how long the ice plug is expected to last (see table). Leave the cover in place until the job is finished and then remove it. The ice plug will thaw in a few minutes.
Using the Pipe Freezing Machine – Hamilton Plumbing Supply
Another way to make plumbing repairs without cutting off the water is to use the pipe freezing machine. When using it, first secure the freezing head to the pipe. Remember that depending on the size and type of pipe, additional adapters or heads may be necessary. Connect the machine to a power supply and turn it on.
Wait for the indicated time the freezing machine you are using requires before beginning plumbing repairs without shutting off the water and leave the machine running until the work is complete. When the ice cap is no longer needed, turn off the machine and remove the freezing head.
To select the method of making plumbing repairs without cutting off the water that works best for you, remember that the spray freeze kit is only used once and has a relatively high “cost per freeze. If the job cannot be completed in 30 minutes, more aerosol may be needed. In addition, to use the spray kit, you must have access around the pipe to place the freeze cover.
The pipe freezing machine has a higher purchase price, but can be used repeatedly. It is not necessary to have full access around the pipe, as the freezing head clamps are designed to fit the sides of the pipe. Another benefit is that, although the freezing machine takes longer to form the ice cap than the aerosol method, the pipe will remain frozen for as long as it is kept on, making it more suitable for larger repairs or alterations.