I have received three calls* in two days for freezing pipes. That is not so unusual...
It's where the pipes are freezing that makes this so odd. You see, in every call, it is the kitchen sink cold water pipe that is freezing!
It has been very cold and got to 5 degrees F last night at my house in Northern Virginia. We get that now and then, but not often. I say "cold" fully realizing that 5 degrees is T-shirt weather for some of you people... but that is beside the point.
Often in the past I have gotten calls because the pipes servicing the large master bath tubs have frozen. It is a large, enclosed space, with plumbing inside. Sometimes the exterior wall(s) does not get properly insulated. Because of that I always look for complete insulation there on pre-drywall inspections.
But kitchen pipes! That is unusual, in my experience anyway. Apparently the small space between the base of the sink cabinet and the sub floor is poorly insulated. Would that shock you? I should mention another thing - ALL OF THESE CALLS CAME FROM HOUSES LESS THAN TWO YEARS OLD. There, now you should NOT be shocked.
There is no way a home inspector can see that space. Such cold air is probably not very detectable even with an IR camera (I looked at my cabinet with my IR camera and I don't think so anyway...). So what do you do?
When asked for a solution my question was whether the pipes were visible in the basement. None was. So I suggested they get the kids down there under the sink with a blow dryer, set on hot with the fan on high, and go at that pipe for a couple of minutes. Then open the valve just a bit. Once a trickle is started the ice will melt quickly. Hopefully no pipes have burst!
Well, at least I show everyone where the water main is...
* All these near-panic calls were from friends. I am the go-to guy...
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC
Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.
Office (703) 330-6388 Cell (703) 585-7560