Canadian Contractor

Steve Payne   

Keeping pipes outside of a cottage flowing in winter: Option 2

Canadian Contractor

Architect Brad Green came up with his own system for keeping the water and drain pipes flowing at his year-round Ontario cottage

Last week, we posted a story from Steve Maxwell about new technology for heating outside water pipes in shallow soil conditions.  Click here to read that story.

Brad Green, an architect, sent us his own solutions for keeping his main drain and water pipes flowing during the Ontario winter…

I live in my cottage with wood stove for primary heat. My 4″ drain is suspended beneath in the cold crawlspace loosely wrapped with a roof defrost cable which is then wrapped with 1/2″ rock fibre pipe insulation set on a timer to activate for 1/2 hour at 3 am, 6:30 am, 1 pm, 7 pm, and 11 pm. Never freezes even at 30 below.

My water system consists of a submerged pump (lake) on a 1″ un-insulated pipe. The pressure tank is in the house and includes a check valve and an air bleeder valve to “drain back” to the pump. All of the internal water piping is pex 1/2″ and is above the floor on the warm side hidden behind the baseboards, cupboards etc. I had a 10 ft heat line at the lake but it burned out 1st winter. Now I have that section of pipe super insulated with 3 layers of foam pipe insulation inside a big O and a wound copper wire that brings free heat up from below. -Never freezes costs nothing to heat. (My hydro bill is $65 month) When I go away south I just pull the pex at the high end and blow hard to drain everything and lock the door. When I get back I flip the pump switch and we’re good to go! Beat that!



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8 Comments » for Keeping pipes outside of a cottage flowing in winter: Option 2
  1. Aaron Seaton says:

    I would love to know the components of such a drain back system. Is it possible to find out?

  2. amorelle says:

    We have burst pipe for 3 days in our small cottage on winter time, unfortunately it started friday evening. No plumber to call n only wants money with no guarantee. Unable to find main valve even the city. So they decided to shut off the main water from small n big cottage in our property. Can the city unable to locate main water valve of the small cottage?.

  3. amorelle says:

    We have cottage in crystal beach Ontario. Its quite big land land with 2 houses. One is small n the other one is two storey cottage. Burst pipe for 3 days from small cottage. Unable to find main valve for small house. How can we find it. We need honest plumber for estimate for burst pipe n to locate main valve. City water shut off the main water valve n we don’t have water in 2 houses. Help

  4. Brian says:

    Hope someone can help?

    Very interested on the copper wire portion of Brad Green’s supply waterline where he has wrapped copper wire around his supply water line at the water surface and land meets. As I have the very same problem and it looks as if he has a solution.

    Cheers, and thank you in advance.

    A simple drawing would do as long it shows how to capture the heat that transmits to the water line.


      I second this – seems like a much simpler solution than heating that section with heat trace.

  5. Ron says:

    I would also love to get more information on this setup and how it works. Very little detail Mr. Steve Payne

  6. Phil Dunkley says:

    I am also interested in the copper wire coil at ice level. Any idea what guage wire, solid or stranded wire, how much loose tail to leave?
    Regarding drain down action, is the internal check valve removed from the pump, or is there a diverter installed in the line above the pump? I have heard many discussions about the pump being damaged if you remove the internal check valve and allow it to spin backwards. Any more discussion on this would be greatly appreciated.

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