Water line Winterizing
I've had my fair share (or more than my fair share, really) of water issues with the tiny house. I'm determined that freezing water lines is not going to be one of them.
Back in October I got down to business with figuring out how to protect the water line from freezing. It's a short run from our spigot to the inlet on the house, so there wasn't much distance to deal with. I purchased a water line heat system called "Eazy Heat" in a 20' length. This reason I liked this one was it had a temperature sensor, so it could tell when the water line was in danger of freezing.
I simply followed the instructions for installation, part of which included wrapping the hose with tin foil before lying the heated wire alongside it. Luckily I had enough tin foil in the house! This part almost cleared me out.
The most vulnerable parts of the hose for freezing are the connections. So I paid special attention to wrapping a bit extra around the section going into the house. You can see I looped the black wire - the heated part - up and around the connection to the house.
Our spigot is called a frost-free spigot, used where it gets below freezing and there is no building or structure to provide heat from freezing. It works like this: when the water is turned off (handle in the down position, unlike these photos) it actually cuts off the water below ground and there is a valve that drains any remaining water in the vertical pipe underground, so that any pipes still filled with water are safely below the frost line.
Well this is a problem because in order to have running water in the house, we need to leave the spigot on. So I wrapped the water line with the heat tape as best I could around the spigot. I also purchased a tube of heavy chipboard usually used as a concrete form. The tube will help me to insulate the spigot from freezing. I dug down around the base of the spigot about 9", because I think the first foot or so of the ground will also be vulnerable to freezing.
I used plastic bags and spray foam to create some insulation forms around the spigot/hose/tin foil/heat line. I didn't just spray foam into the tube because I don't want this to be permanent. If you're familiar with using spray foam, it's awful to get off of something you don't want it on. So by using the plastic bags and spraying the foam into the plastic bags, it can expand to fill the gaps but doesn't actually attach to the spigot and hose itself. I'm hoping that I can reuse these forms from year to year, since spray foam lasts a long time but we'll see how it does this year first.
Using the spray foam was probably the most obnoxious part of this project, but it wasn't hard. I also used C-shaped pipe insulation to wrap the hose and heat line. You can see the duct taped joints between the sections in the picture above. I also ended up cutting the tube into three different sections, because I have short arms and I was having a difficult time wrangling the bag and spray foam container down into the tube far enough. No big deal, I just duct taped it together as I added the sections back on.
Altogether this project took about an afternoon, and it cost less than $100. I used three cans of spray foam and about 10 small kitchen bags, the tube, the pipe insulation, the heated wire, and tin foil. I also needed electrician's tape to secure the heat wire to the hose, and duct tape for the insulation and tube. I later went back with some wood chip mulch and put a pretty deep layer over the section of hose on the ground, and all around the base of the tube. Let's hope it keeps us from having a frozen water line this winter!