Leading the way in freeze protection
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February 3, 2017
Beating the realities of winter is one of the challenges you face as a Canadian contractor, and things can get especially tricky when it comes to plumbing. Entire regions of this country don’t necessarily have the soil cover to protect water supply pipes and drain lines from freezing year-round. I’ve wrestled with shallow-soil building situations since the mid-1980s, I’ve tried a number of different approaches, and some of the best freeze-protection plumbing solutions I’ve found come from a small Canadian company in the land of rocks and trees.
Lorne Heise started out as an electrician, but after he and his wife Robin left the bustle of Toronto to live in the soil-poor, cottage-rich region of Muskoka, Ontario, they founded a company called Heat-Line (heatline.com; 800-584-4944). I first tracked Lorne down in 2011, following stories I’d heard about his water line freeze protection products installed around the world. You’ve probably never met anyone who gets as excited as Lorne does about the quintessential wintertime challenge of keeping pipes ice-free. Imagine spending a good part of each week inventing solutions for efficiently heating pipes! That’s Lorne’s life and he’s good at it.
When it comes to keeping pipes from freezing, water supplies and drain lines are two different animals. The risks of freezing are unique and so are the solutions. Both situations rely on electric heating cables, but the similarities end there.
Keeping Drain Lines Draining
As long as a drain pipe is sloped consistently and drains completely it might never get blocked with ice, even if it’s fully exposed underneath a raised building or buried by insufficient soil to keep the pipe above 32F (0C). But hope can be a dangerous thing when it comes to plumbing. If a blockage develops during winter in an otherwise reliable pipe, or frost builds up enough to clog the flow, it’s bad news. A 4-inch sewer line frozen solid with “ice” might not defrost until the robins have been back for weeks in most parts of Canada. And if something this ugly happens on one of your projects, you’ll look about as good as the stuff clogging your client’s sewer line.
Sizing Your Cable
So how do you make sure drain lines never freeze when you don’t have enough soil' It comes down to electric heating cables and there are two options: external and internal. Until recently, external was the only choice for drains because plumbing codes prohibit any electric cable from being located inside a drain pipe. The danger that code authorities are concerned about is the remote chance of an explosion caused by a spark surrounded by volatile sewer gases. External application of heating cable also side- steps the chance of pipe blockage caused by sewage debris grabbing onto an internal cable and building up, but there are factors to be considered when installing an external cable. Besides the fact that the external approach is difficult to install around buried drain pipes, the transfer of heat to frozen water is inhibited by the pipe wall.
Earlier this winter I installed two types of drain line heating cables. One fastens to the outside of a fully exposed insulated pipe underneath a building on raised piers, and the other sits inside a buried drain pipe. Heat-Line is unique in the world of heat trace systems because they have the only system that is cCSAus approved for use inside black and grey water drains. Their Retro-DWS system I installed includes a self-regulating heating cable that’s sealed inside a 1/2” diameter HDPE pipe. Technically speaking the cable is not inside a drain line, it’s inside a pipe that’s inside a drain line. This makes it okay for cCSAus certifications.
Another handy feature of the in-pipe approach is that you can push the heating cable a long way. You don’t need to fish it. In my own situation I easily pushed the pipe 130 feet from the building to a septic tank through a 4” PVC pipe. I’ve heard of situations where Retro-DWS was pushed a whopping 400 feet by hand without buckling.
Freeze-Proof Water Supply
There are many ways to keep water supply lines from freezing when they can’t be buried below the frost line, but the trick is making it all happen reliably and with minimal electricity use. The first time I installed a Heat- Line product for one of my projects was back in 2011. The situation involved a 55-foot run from a drilled well on a site with about 12” of stony soil above bedrock and I used a product called CARAPACE. It’s a 200 PSI high density polyethylene pipe with a self-regulating heating cable molded into one side.
In this case “self-regulating” means the heating cable increases heat output as needed in areas that are cold. One location on the cable may be drawing very little power because it’s naturally warm, while a colder section may be drawing more to prevent the pipe in that section from freezing. Coupled with a thermostat system that turns the entire system OFF when pipe temperatures rise above freezing and you have very frugal use of electricity.
The installation I put in included preformed foam pipe insulation around the water supply line, all encased in a 4” ABS pipe for physical protection. Where the water line turns upwards and goes vertical as it entered this particular home built on piers, I replaced the preformed foam sleeve with spray foam insulation injected into 3/8” holes in the ABS. I couldn’t make the curve inside the ABS with the sleeve insulation, but the spray foam injection did the trick. With the thermostat sensor located inside the coldest part of the installation (the vertical part above ground), the electricity switches ON less than half the time, even in the coldest weather.
Your projects only succeed as well as the weakest link performs, and frozen plumbing systems can cause no end of headaches. To see the job where I installed both the internal and external drain pipe heating cables, visit www.baileylineroad.com/freeze-proof-drains.
Cottage Life Spring 2016 Issue
As you struggle to get your pump and waterline back in place this spring, pause for a moment to think how nice getting that chore off your to-do list—permanently— would be. Then consider this: installing an in-line waterline-heating cable is a oneday job that will keep the water flowing to your cottage all year.
There are two basic types of in-pipe heating cable: those that heat continuously along their entire length, such as WinterGard and EasyHeat, and those that self-regulate, adjusting the temperature up or down as needed, section by section, such as HeatLine’s Retro-Line.
You’re revisiting your wheelbarrow after winter’s repose, and its tire is flat, so you probably hook up the old bike pump to do its pneumatic best. But that may not work if the tire is tubeless. To stay inflated, a tubeless tire relies on a good pressure seal between the tire and the rim. JOB JAR Inflation policy Both types are available as 120-volt, GFCIprotected systems that plug into a standard electrical outlet. Plug-in lines can heat a polyethylene waterline for up to 250 feet. Retro-Line offers a hard-wired, 240-volt system that will work for up to 550 feet. WinterGard and EasyHeat can keep waterlines up to 1¼" diameter ice-free, while Retro-Line can handle a 2" line.
Complete systems, including the cable, thermostat, and fittings retail for $10 to $15 per linear foot. Operating costs will vary with the length of the cable, whether or not your waterline is buried or insulated, and the local electricity rates; in most situations, you can have year-round water for $200 or less per year.—Allan Britnell
September 30, 2012
The Chronicle Journal
If you're like a growing number of Canadians trading their city homes for full-time life at the cottage or camp, sooner or later your involvement with plumbing and water systems will rise. Where city water simply flows miraculously from a pipe that enters your basement, you've got to make this magic happen entirely for yourself in any rural setting. And making this happen year-round is especially challenging if your cottage is built like so many are, with pipes vulnerable to freezing on a landscape with shallow soil cover. Upgrading seasonal cottage water systems so they stay frost-free in the coldest winter weather is a challenge that a Canadian named Lorne Heise excels at, and his work may just help you live a hassle-free life by the lake this winter.
Heise left the bustle of the big city, moved to cottage country, and started a company called Heat-Line.
Heise invented and manufactures some of the best frost protection plumbing hardware I've seen, and I got to experience his Carapace heated water line product first hand last winter.
That's when I installed 50 feet of it for some friends who escaped to their cottage from the city, across a landscape with only 18 inches of soil that would normally freeze water pipes solid each winter.
Unlike most heated water line systems, the pipe I installed includes a heating cable molded right into the pipe, though this innovation isn't the most impressive part of the system. After watching Carapace perform most of last winter, what really strikes me is the intelligence behind the embedded heating cable. Unlike other heated pipe systems I've worked with, this one automatically adjusts heat output incrementally along the length of the pipe. This boosts efficiency a lot on its own, but there's more.
The system also includes a wallmounted thermostat that shuts the system off completely whenever heat isn't required to keep the pipe above freezing.
All in all, electricity use is minimal, despite being surprisingly effective. Temperatures dropped to -15 C the day after I installed the system, and even though the pipe wasn't yet covered with any kind of soil at all, water stayed frost-free and flowing.
While it's one thing to keep a water pipe warm and insulated as it sits under a limited amount of protective soil cover, it's another trick to bring that pipe up into a cottage building that sits in the air on some kind of raised foundation piers.
Many camps are built this way, without any kind of basement, and meeting the challenge of keeping the pipe both insulated and protected as it rises vertically into the building isn't simple. In the end I succeeded using two products made for entirely different purposes.
The Carapace system involves sleeves of flexible foam insulation that goes around the heated pipe before being buried, to reduce power consumption. In order to keep this insulation in good shape physically after it was buried, I encased the entire insulated water line in 4' diameter black ABS drain pipe. It's inexpensive, exceptionally tough, available at every hardware store and easy to cut with a saw and join with solvent.
The only trouble is when the water line turns upwards to go into the building.
There's not enough room to slide the foam insulation inside the elbows in this ABS outer shell. Rather than leave the pipe bare inside, I drilled 3/8' diameter holes in the side of the ABS casing every six inches, then injected spray foam insulation into the hollow outer pipe, surrounding the inner Carapace pipe to keep it reliable and economical.
It's a simple little twist that lets a great Canadian plumbing innovation do amazing things.
Steve Maxwell, syndicated home improvement and woodworking columnist, has shared his do-it-yourself tips, how-to videos and product reviews since 1988. His column appears weekly. Follow 'Canada's Handiest Man' online at www.stevemaxwell.ca.
December 30, 2011
SPECIAL TO THE STAR
Like a growing number of Canadians, Mike and Alice Ogden have traded their city home for full-time life at the cottage. And as anyone who has attempted this will tell you, one of the biggest technical challenges is getting year-round running water from a landscape with shallow soil cover, delivered reliably to buildings without basements.
Preventing water lines from freezing during cold weather is the trick, and it requires specialized plumbing technology of the sort that a guy named Lorne Heise excels at creating.
An electrician by trade, Heise left the bustle of Toronto, moved to Muskoka, and started a company called Heat-Line ( heatline.com, 1-800-584-4944). Heise has invented and manufactures some of the best frost protection plumbing hardware I've seen, and I got to experience his Carapace product first-hand.
The Ogden's new water well is 50 feet from their cottage, and with only 18 inches of soil cover, the pipe leading from the well would certainly freeze without some kind of cable to warm it. The Carapace product I installed for them includes a heating cable moulded right into the pipe, but this innovation isn't the most impressive part of the system.
What really struck me is the intelligence behind the embedded cable.
Unlike any other pipe heating cables I've worked with, this one has the ability to adjust heat output incrementally along its entire length, applying more or less heat as needed to different parts of the pipe. This eliminates the danger that some cables pose of overheating plastic water pipes, while also reducing the amount of electricity required to a bare minimum.
A further innovation involves the use of a thermostat box that allows the system to shut off completely when heat is not required to keep the pipe above freezing. At $1,400 for 70 feet of Carapace pipe, and an additional $500 for the thermostat and foam pipe insulation, the Ogden's system isn't cheap. But after working with this hardware, I can also say that it's extremely well made, well thought out, and exceptionally tough. The system has also proven it's worth in a surprising way.
It's -15C as I write this, and the Heat-Line thermostat has been cycling ON and OFF nicely as needed to keep the Ogden's water line frost-free. What's really remarkable is that we don't even have the trench filled yet. The pipes are open and exposed as hoar frost wafts down from surrounding trees, yet water still flows perfectly from the well.
While its one thing to keep a water pipe warm and insulated as it sits under a limited amount of protective soil cover, its another trick to bring that pipe up into a building that sits in the air on some kind of piers, while also preserving the all-important layer of insulation. This is the challenge with many cottages, and to keep the pipe both insulated and protected, I used two products made for entirely different purposes.
The Carapace system involves sleeves of flexible foam insulation that goes around the heated pipe to reduce power consumption. In order to keep this insulation in good shape physically after it's buried, I encased the entire insulated water line in 4-inch-diameter black ABS drain pipe. It's inexpensive, exceptionally tough, available at every hardware store and easy to cut with a saw and join with solvent.
The only trouble is when the water line turns upwards to go into the building. There's not enough room to slide the foam insulation inside the elbows in this ABS outer shell. Rather than leave the pipe bare inside, I drilled 3/8-inch-diameter holes in the side of the ABS casing every 6 inches, then injected spray foam insulation into the hollow outer pipe, surrounding the inner Carapace pipe to keep it reliable and economical.
It's a simple little twist that lets a great Canadian plumbing innovation do amazing things.
Steve Maxwell, syndicated home improvement and woodworking columnist, has shared his DIY tips, how-to videos and product reviews since 1988. Visit him at www.stevemaxwell.ca, Facebook at Canada's Handiest Man or @Maxwells_Tips on Twitter.
CARNARVON AREA BUSINESSMAN RECEIVES NOMINATION ACCEPTANCE FOR PRESTIGIOUS AWARD
Well known Carnarvon area businessman, inventor and President of Heat-Line, Lorne Heise, has been honoured for one of his inventions.
The E.C. Manning Awards Foundation has accepted a nomination for an award for a company product called ArcticVent.
The ArcticVent is a device which prevents roof vents from freezing in cold climates and has been adopted by the Nunavut Housing Authority, the Alaska Cold Weather Testing facility and others.
The nomination was made by an area businessman and a Toronto patent agent and was a lengthy process involving the preparation of a four inch thick binder of data.
The Manning Awards - founded by Preston's father-salutes innovation in Canada.
The Ontario Chapter of the Awards will accept the nomination at a reception on May 12 in Toronto at the Ontario Centers for Excellence Discovery 2008 show.
HEAT-LINE NOW OFFERS CORD CONNECTED CARAPACE
Heat-Line is pleased to announce the addition of cord connected CARAPACE to the Heat-Line family of freeze protection products.
Factory finished CS (cord set) and GFC (ground fault circuit) versions are now available in custom lengths to answer the call for custom pipe lengths. The new CS and GFC version of CARAPACE are factory finished to exact length and require no field splicing. The CS version comes ready to connect to a ground fault protected circuit. The GFC version is supplied with integral ground fault protection, as with all Heat-Line products.
CARAPACE is constructed of high density polyethylene NSF approved pipe for potability. The rural grade 1 inch and 11/4 inch pipes (RHPE) for wells, lakes and various other water supply sources are rated at 160 PSI and are internal diameter controlled. The municipal grade products rated at 200 PSI and are CTS copper tube size outside diameter controlled 1 inch and 11/4 inch sizes.
CARAPACE is cCSAus certified for Canada and the United States. CARAPACE is 240 volt available in 3 and 5 watt per foot heating densities at 50 degrees F. These conductive polymer self-regulating freeze protected pipes are the finest on the market and carry a 5 year limited warranty.
CARAPACE can be used for potable water, grey water and sewage forced mains. It is also recommended for all submersible pump applications, constant pressure systems and mass control systems.
For more information, visit the CARAPACE product page or contact Heat-Line.
CARAPACE is a Registered Trademark of Heat-Line Corporation.