1:5:10:365 EcoTip Blog

November 27, 2008

:332 Mulch Plumbing

Filed under: :332 Mulch Plumbing — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — John Banta @ 12:35 am

Take the 1:5:10:365 challenge: Do one thing – for 5 to 10 minutes – 365 days a year to make our home and planet environment better.

1:5:10:332 EcoTip: If your part of the country routinely experiences freezing conditions, your in-ground plumbing is probably installed so it is protected. If your in-ground plumbing isn’t adequately protected, throwing a couple of feet of mulch over the area at risk may provide the extra insulation necessary to keep the pipes from freezing.

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 Additional Information:

Suggested Review: :331

Sprinkler systems should be drained and blown out. When sprinklers are installed in areas that routinely freeze – they should have drain plugs built in at the lowest points. If the system doesn’t have a good way to drain it and blow out the water – mulching over the lines may do the trick. This is also true for points where the water supply line isn’t burried deeply enough. Simply add mulch over the top of the area to be protected.

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November 13, 2008

:318 Predict Ice Dams

Take the 1:5:10:365 challenge: Do one thing – for 5 to 10 minutes – 365 days a year to make our home and planet environment better.

1:5:10:318 EcoTip: Thermal imaging can be used to predict locations on the roof where ice dams are likely to form. The thermal imaging camera is used to locate hot spots. These represent the areas where snow will melt. If the melted snow has to run down an area of roof where the water will refreeze, then the formation of an ice dam becomes more likely.

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Courtesy of MoistureView.com

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 Additional Information:

Suggested Review: :313, :317

The large blue area in the thermal image above represents a cold area with missing insulation where the attic eave vent is located. The heat from the house will escape upwards warming the underside of the roof. If snow is present the extra warmth may cause it to melt and run down the roof onto the cold overhang. If conditions are right the water will refreeze and form a dam that prevents subsequent water flowing downward from draining off the roof. This water can then migrate into the home. This thermal image can be used to predict that water from any ice dam that forms from this missing insulation is more likely to drain down into the wall cavity causing damage.

Tomorrow’s 1:5:10:365 EcoTip will show how this eave area could be insulated and ventilated at the same time.

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November 12, 2008

:317 Prevent Ice Dams

Filed under: :317 Prevent Ice Dams — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , — John Banta @ 12:50 am

Take the 1:5:10:365 challenge: Do one thing – for 5 to 10 minutes – 365 days a year to make our home and planet environment better.

1:5:10:317 EcoTip: Ice dams occur when roof snow melts over warm areas of a roof then refreezes as it runs down into colder areas. The frozen blockage creates a dam that prevents the water from draining from the roof. The water that becomes trapped can then migrate up under the roof shingles and drain into the house causing water damage. This can be especially expensive when the water drains into the wall cavities and isn’t discovered and dried quickly.

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 Additional Information:

Tomorrow’s 1:5:10:365 EcoTip shows you how to predict areas where ice dams are likely to occur.

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November 10, 2008

:315 Defrosting Frozen Pipes

Take the 1:5:10:365 challenge: Do one thing – for 5 to 10 minutes – 365 days a year to make our home and planet environment better.

1:5:10:314 EcoTip:  If your plumbing does freeze – open the spigot anyway, it may relieve enough pressure to prevent the bursting of the pipe. Monitor the situation carefully so that if the pipe has burst, you will catch it quickly after the pipe defrosts. To melt the frozen plug use a blow dryer (not an open flame) and begin heating the pipe at the spigot working backwards towards the frozen point. If it starts to run from the spigot (even slowly) that will usually be enough to help melt the blockage.

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 Additional Information:

Suggested Review: :312, 313, 314

Climate change isn”t only about warming. In my book- Extreme Weather Hits Home: Protecting Your Building From Climate Change, I discuss how to prepare your home for cold snaps and other extreme weather conditions.

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November 9, 2008

:314 Emergency Pipe Protection

Take the 1:5:10:365 challenge: Do one thing – for 5 to 10 minutes – 365 days a year to make our home and planet environment better.

1:5:10:314 EcoTip:  If you believe your plumbing is at risk of freezing and bursting, you may be able to prevent that from happening by opening the spigot at the furthest faucet along the plumbing line and let it drip. Of course this wastes water, but it is likely to waste far less than if the plumbing were to burst. If you decide to catch the water in a bucket for later use, let it run directly into the bucket. Never leave hoses connected to spigots in the winter. The hose is more likely to freeze all the way back to the spigot causing a rupture.

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 Additional Information:

Suggested Review: :312, 313

Climate change isn”t only about warming. In my book- Extreme Weather Hits Home: Protecting Your Building From Climate Change, I discuss how to prepare your home for cold snaps and other extreme weather conditions.

Would you like to receive an email alert for each new 1:5:10:365 EcoTip? Sign up for a Google Alert.

November 8, 2008

:313 Winter Thermal Imaging

Take the 1:5:10:365 challenge: Do one thing – for 5 to 10 minutes – 365 days a year to make our home and planet environment better.

1:5:10:312 EcoTip: Winter thermal imaging can be effectively performed anytime the temperature difference between the inside and outside 20 degrees F or greater. The temperature difference is necessary so that cold spots such as missing insulation and air infiltration can be observed. This is a good way for checking to see if insulation in wall cavities or attics with plumbing are adequately insulated to prevent freezing of pipes.

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The missing insulation shown in this Fluke thermal image shows up as being cold. If there were plumbing in the area where the insulation is missing – there would be a risk of it freezing in a cold snap.

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 Additional Information:

Suggested Review: :311

A thermographer qualified to perform energy audits should be able to take the information gathered during a thermal imaging scan of exterior walls with plumbing and calculate the outdoor temperature that would be cold enough to cause plumbing pipes to freeze. By having this information you can monitor weather reports and take additional precautions during cold snaps when your plumbing is at risk.

Climate change isn”t only about warming. In my book- Extreme Weather Hits Home: Protecting Your Building From Climate Change, I discuss how to prepare your home for cold snaps and other extreme weather conditions.

Would you like to receive an email alert for each new 1:5:10:365 EcoTip? Sign up for a Google Alert.

November 7, 2008

:312 Protect Plumbing

Filed under: :312 Protect Plumbing — Tags: , , , , , , , , — John Banta @ 4:37 am

Take the 1:5:10:365 challenge: Do one thing – for 5 to 10 minutes – 365 days a year to make our home and planet environment better.

1:5:10:312 EcoTip: As winter approaches its time to double check your plumbing insulation to be sure it is protected from freezing. Insulation should be in good condition and not have been pulled back away from the pipes. Rodent damage to insulation is another common cause of exposed pipes becoming frozen.

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 Additional Information:

Suggested Review: :218

The following excerpt is from my book – Extreme Weather Hits Home: Protecting Your Building From Climate Change.


In his book Water in Buildings, Architect William Rose tells us that according to the insurance industry the greatest losses from freezing weather conditions don’t occur in parts of the country that commonly freeze. “The claims come much more from the southern United States than from the northern states. Texas and Florida were highest on a per capita basis; Minnesota was the lowest. We can attribute this to the surprise factor — Minnesotans build such that freezing pipes are unlikely, whereas southerners may be caught by surprise by an unexpected cold wave. … Insurance companies paid around $4.5 billion in the 10-year period 1985-1995 in claims for pipes bursting”

Frozen pipes, ice dams, heaving foundations and overloaded roofs are all rare conditions in the north where people are prepared for them, but become epidemic when very cold weather hits the southern parts of North America. Plumbing installed in southern states is rarely insulated and frequently has some point where it comes above ground such as water shut-off valves and entry points into the building. Furthermore it’s common for buildings in the same general vicinity to be constructed similarly so when failures occur they tend to be repeated at the neighbors’ homes as well.

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