Home>Discussions>PLUMBING>Whole house frozen -- how bad will it be?
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Sherry
Whole house frozen -- how bad will it be?

I have a purchase offer in on a house. It is a charming old house in a nice neighborhood. The house needs some work.

The inspection is tomorrow but I already know that it was not winterized and everything has frozen in our frigid Minnesota winter. The radiators cracked and leaked a little during a brief thaw then everything froze again. The toilet tank froze and cracked. I’m sure the water heater and boiler are both frozen solid.

What I want to know is how bad (expensive) is it to fix this? I know all the plumbing will likely have to be redone but I also expect there will be a lot of water damage when things start to thaw. Will I have to rip into all the walls to get at the plumbing? Will I have to replace the wiring?

I can still get out of the deal if I want to but I really love the house and want to make it work.

Thanks

libcarp
Re: Whole house frozen -- how bad will it be?

Does the house have a basement? If so getting at the pipes on the first floor shouldn't be too bad. What about a 2nd or 3rd floor? That's when you're going to have to start cutting into ceilings and walls to gain access. Remember you're also going to have to deal with floor/wall/ceiling water damage when things start to thaw out and without heat for so long wood flooring/paneling are likely to develop some cracking. I it were me, I'd skip it - there are too many 'good' homes on the market to have to deal with these kinds of problems.

JLMCDANIEL
Re: Whole house frozen -- how bad will it be?

SherryH by removing as much as you can, radiators, toilets, etc while still frozen and opening the lines at the lowest point, basement preferably, then put a heater in the basement and try thawing from the bottom up, you can minimize water damage. However you will probably have to replace the pluming including the hot water heating lines. Depending on the configuration of the house you may be able to run PEX up through the walls with a minimum amount of holes in the plaster or drywall. Most drain lines should be OK except traps. The hot water heat lines could be the big problem and expensive with a great deal of tearout. The freezing should have little or no effect on the electrical.
Jack

canuk
Re: Whole house frozen -- how bad will it be?

Depends .... if the water supply to the house was shutoff before everything froze then you may have only localized water damage issues which would be minimized.
If the water pipes are iron they may not have fractured as much as the cast iron rads which are less forgiving and not as ductile.
As jack mentioned .... removing the fixtures while still frozen will minimize any further mess from water. The water supply lines , fixtures , faucets , water heating ,etc, should only be affected ..... the drain lines don't usually have much standing water to be affected , except the traps.

As for the electrical .... hard to say but normally there shouldn't be too much that would be exposed to water issues.
If water pipes were run in close proximity to the service panel and dumping gallons of water into it ... then yes it probably would require replacing the panel.
You might find the odd receptacle that may be close to water pipes and have some water damage.... hard to say.
Being an old house chances are you may consider redoing the electrical anyway.

You might consider checking with your municipal building and zoning office as to the condition the home is in ..... they may deem this home to uninhabitable or condemned since there is no heat and water .... which could be a feather in your cap for the purchase .... or a money pit.

2 cents worth.:)

Sherry
Re: Whole house frozen -- how bad will it be?

Hi Libcarp,
The house does have a basement under part of the house and crawl space under the rest. It is a two story house. I appreciate your advise about skipping it but this house is in the part of town I like best and there just are not too many of these houses that come along so I am going to go through with the purchase. I’m going to hire help on this one – it is just too much for me to do by myself.

Hi Jack,
The house inspector told me the same thing about getting the radiators and toilets out before it melts. Unfortunately I don’t close until Thursday and it’s warming up to the 40’s here tomorrow. (I never thought I’d be unhappy about 40 degree temps in February in Minnesota.) I called a contractor about removing the radiators and toilets as soon as I get the house and he said he’d charge me about $2500. I think I’ll call someone else – that sounds pretty high to me. I like your idea about thawing from the bottom up. I’ll do that as soon as I get the house.

Hi Canuk,
They did not shut off the water to the house until today after I asked them to. I expect the line into the house is frozen. I don’t know if the pipes are iron or cast iron – maybe I’ll luck out and they will not have burst but I won’t know for awhile. I’ll remove as much as I can of frozen pipes, radiators, toilets right away. The water heater and boiler are in the basement so they are a lower priority. If they leak they’ll just make a mess of the dirt floor in the basement but that will dry out. I found out during the inspection that the wiring was updated. I didn’t know if knob and tube wiring would be damaged by getting wet but I guess I don’t have to worry about that now. There are no water pipes near the service panel.

You made an interesting comment about checking with the zoning office. The addendum to the purchase agreement specifically forbid me from bring in any officials to check for code violations. Everything in the purchase agreement was stacked in favor of the seller. It was either take it or leave it. I can walk out of the deal if I want to but I really want the house.

Thanks for the advice, guys.

Sherry

calcats
Re: Whole house frozen -- how bad will it be?

Sherry H.,
I would try to get some type of reconciliation for the damages you are going to incur. Try to get the seller to agree to a dollar figure to at least help with the expenses. If the seller won't budge and you say it is take it or leave it, you have to wonder if there is something they are hiding. You like everything about the house but, is it worth the amount you might have to spend for repairs?? Good Luck!

Calcats ;)

A. Spruce
Re: Whole house frozen -- how bad will it be?
SherryH wrote:

The addendum to the purchase agreement specifically forbid me from bring in any officials to check for code violations. Everything in the purchase agreement was stacked in favor of the seller. It was either take it or leave it. I can walk out of the deal if I want to but I really want the house.

This is an extremely dangerous situation. As much as you want the house, do consider that it may need major renovations to all primary systems. If you're ok with that possibility and expense, then proceed. Sounds to me that the seller is hiding something and you should proceed with caution.

Sherry
Re: Whole house frozen -- how bad will it be?

Here's a little more information....

The house is owned by the bank. They have their standard addendum that basically gives them all the rights. It is not specific to this particular house. I don't like it but I don't think they are trying to hide anything. They don't know much about the house at all.

The house was in the middle of a renovation and the owner did not finish. Much of the siding is off. It does need a lot of work. The purchase prices is only about $20 above the land value.

Thanks for the feedback.

Sherry

A. Spruce
Re: Whole house frozen -- how bad will it be?

Well then, considering it's a REO property, screw what the contract says and ask for a waiver to have the home inspected. Considering the economic state of the country and most banks, they're more motivated to get an idle property off their hands than to hold onto it. It never hurts to ask.

Sherry
Re: Whole house frozen -- how bad will it be?

Hi Jack,

You wanted to see my frozen house. Here she is..

Sherry

JLMCDANIEL
Re: Whole house frozen -- how bad will it be?

No wonder you were so excited Darlin.:cool: I take it that it is now yours.
Jack

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