Frozen Pipe Thawing
I have noticed that a frozen water pipe is often not
split open due to freezing. However when you apply a certain level of
heat, to thaw the pipe, and it does not have to be excessive heat, the
pipe will often split before the thawing process is complete.
If you apply very low level of heat, over a long period of time, the
pipe will often survive the thawing.
Is this because ice , being in a "Solid State", now acts like most
other materials and expands, just before the actual conversion back to
its liquid state, or is there some other reason?
If the frozen pipe was already stressed near the breaking point, perhaps the
localized heat vaporized some of the meltwater and caused the pipe to
finally yield to the pent up stress.
While water contracts when ice is melted, i.e. water at 0 C. is less
dense than ice that reduction in volume only exists up to about 4 C. after
which water expands upon further heating. So if you melt a section of frozen
pipe capped by two plugs of ice and the water temperature exceeds 4 C. and
the ice plugs are immovable something has to give, and what gives is the
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Update: June 2012