Freezing Floor Drain

  • Advertise with us

« back to Focus on the Workspace forum

Forum topic by moke posted 02-08-2014 05:26 PM 2238 views 1 time favorited 25 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View moke's profile


1006 posts in 2554 days

02-08-2014 05:26 PM

I am calling on the brain trust….I know that we have an extrodinary diverse group of professionals and retired professionals here and I need some help in my shop with the floor drain.

First I live in Iowa, it was -5 last night. The guy that built my shop/garage installed a floor drain that simply drains out behind my shop with a PVC pipe just above/touching the ground. It freezes at the end and the drain backs up….we park out cars in there and it creates a large pond, which I then open up the pipe with a long drill ( one of those 4 foot Milwaukee bendable bits). But it is a PITA.

I recently found out about band heaters….Can I put one around the exsisting PVC? It would be in the snow….maybe even touching the ground….they appear to be kind of that ok? I really don’t want to use heat tape…
I can wait until this summer to install it, Can anyone give me an idea of what to do?
Thanks in advance

25 replies so far

View mahdee's profile


3813 posts in 1545 days

#1 posted 02-08-2014 05:36 PM

Maybe for now throw some salt down the drain. Comes Spring, dig the pvc down deeper, may 3’ and dig a large hole around it and fill most of with gravel to allow for drainage.


View moke's profile


1006 posts in 2554 days

#2 posted 02-08-2014 05:39 PM

Thanks mrjinx—-I tried the salt thing, mulitple times, and the PVC is buried in the concrete until it emerges from the then proturdes out a foot or so right above the ground…..

View mahdee's profile


3813 posts in 1545 days

#3 posted 02-08-2014 05:48 PM

Ahhhh, then look up Shaver wood boiler; they have these insulation tubes that withstand up to 20 below, I think.

They use it on their water pipe as it exits the broiler and goes in the ground. Another option, comes Spring, run a water hose or pressure washer under the slab to create an opening toward the drain and re install the pipe under the foundation.


View moke's profile


1006 posts in 2554 days

#4 posted 02-08-2014 05:53 PM


View REO's profile


923 posts in 1852 days

#5 posted 02-08-2014 06:11 PM

why not a heat tape?

View bigblockyeti's profile


4545 posts in 1499 days

#6 posted 02-08-2014 06:17 PM

You could also use a gutter heater. Basically it’s just a long waterproof wire you can weave through the gutter supports and along the bottom of the gutter to keep it from freezing. They’re designed to be powered all the time and I don’t believe they pull much current. That might work for you if you could fish it down the drain to where it exits.

View mahdee's profile


3813 posts in 1545 days

#7 posted 02-08-2014 06:20 PM

I use heat tape during the winter to keep my fig trees alive, rain, ice, snow doesn’t bother it. Another solution could be to make a box that goes around the pipe, it can sit on the ground. Cut it in half, grease the pipe good, after putting the box on top of the pipe, tape the two halves together and fill the inside with “great stuff” foam spray. Use a knife to cut the foam in half like the box so it can be used as an insulation around the pine during winter months.


View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

2688 posts in 3216 days

#8 posted 02-08-2014 06:35 PM

If it’s draining well then it shouldn’t freeze. Is it possible that the water is trickling out slowly allowing it to freeze because there is a possible blockage in the pipe? Maybe a small, old animal nest? I’d run a long snake through the pipe to see if it clears out, or run water with a hose through it to see if it runs out fast. If it doesn’t an that’s the problem then clear it out and put a flap over it. Don’t put a screen cap as junk from the garage that goes into it will build up in the screen. Then you’ll really have a blockage. A flap, sort of like the type use for dryers is what I mean.

Also, if blocked, a pan of hot water should do the trick unless the blockage is really big. I live in Maine so I also have some experience with this type of stuff.

If it’s a blockage I’ll bet this is what it is.. from experience. Sand from the garage floor built up a layer in the bottom of the pipe. water soaks up in the sand and has time to freeze. From there it builds up in layers over time. The smaller the pipe the faster it will freeze. It should be 3” or larger.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View moke's profile


1006 posts in 2554 days

#9 posted 02-08-2014 06:37 PM

Wow…two great Ideas…Thanks!!!! I maybe could use the gutter heater and box together!!!

View henryj383's profile


66 posts in 3209 days

#10 posted 02-08-2014 06:54 PM

I had a drain pipe that came out of my heat & a/c unit, we had a 17 degree day or two and the heat stopped working. I called my A/C people the guy that came out said I see what is wrong, the pipe goes out to far from the building and has time to freeze. So he just cut the pipe off to about two” from the wall then dug a hole in the earth with my post hole diggers 8” X 12” so the water would run out of the pipe and not back up before it froze up. He then covered the pipe that was outside the wall with pipe insulation. All I can say is it worked, I did put a big yellow bucket / with a big rock over the whole thing just to keep the wind off.
When the guy started to leave, I said where do you live “Bob” he said well I just moved to SC. but I lived in Iowa all my life.
Hope this helps

View moke's profile


1006 posts in 2554 days

#11 posted 02-08-2014 06:58 PM

I think it is 2 1/2” PVC…I think the problem is it is ever so slightly up hill or level and there is almost no water running through it, I think it builds up in there over the winter. I usually only have to clear it out about this time of year and maybe once more…...I will wait until spring and blow it out from the inside using pressure and hopefully it will clear out anything in there.

I have tried the hot water thing and it really doesn’t work for me….with the “pond” there, there is a significant amount of water there.
All great suggestions….thank you all

View moke's profile


1006 posts in 2554 days

#12 posted 02-08-2014 07:04 PM

Thanks Henry,
I gave serious coonsideration this fall to cutting the pvc off flush and digging a 36” hole striaght down and elbowing a pipe straight down to a little gravel, but if it did not work I could not get at it to fix it…so I gave that idea up.
Thanks though…maybe I’m too conservative…

View bullhead1's profile


228 posts in 2027 days

#13 posted 02-08-2014 07:11 PM

Why not use a funnel to get the hot water to the bottom of the drain so it doesn’t get diluted right away by the standing water? Like one of the funnels with a long stem used to add oil to your car.
If you have propane torch maybe try heating the water that is ponded up at the drain.

View bondogaposis's profile


4392 posts in 2129 days

#14 posted 02-08-2014 07:56 PM

Park your cars outside until spring.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View oxyoke's profile


57 posts in 2132 days

#15 posted 02-09-2014 12:39 AM

You could use a tee with a cap instead of elbow to get your pipe in the ground At 36’’ deep filled stone The ground heat should keep from freezing.ground temp I think is 56 degrees farinheight .Can you spell ferinhight.

-- Bill Byron Center MI

showing 1 through 15 of 25 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics