Thursday, 21 January 2010

The frost takes a bite out of Waterlily

It was a one day visit on Sunday to check how Waterlily fared during the recent extended cold snap. We opened the main stop cock, turned on the electricity and hit the water pump button. The pump kicked in and then we heard the awful sound of running water and it was not coming from the tap....... arse !!

So it was then a matter of trying to find the location without running too much water into the boat. I initially thought it was between the water pump which is in the TV cabinet and the sink unit. I managed to get a view of the pipe work after taking part of the bookcase apart but could not see any damage or wet areas.

Next option was to have a good feel under the sink where the cold water pipe come in - dry and still no leak.

So we turned the radio off and hit the pump switch again and listened - same tinkly water sound -pump off and into the bathroom and under the sink. No leaks but as soon as I touched one of the pipes it moved meaning it was not connected the other side - behind the cooker......

I emptied the under sink cupboard and climbed in to take this photo....

The frost has completely opened up the soldered joint. This was after I thought I'd drained the pipes. I think in hindsight all I'd done was remove the pressure and some of the water. I am giving thought to rigging up a pump to draw off any water in the pipes to stop it happening again - that and some lagging

I did not have the bits or the inclination to repair it as we were only aboard for the day so we lit the fire, filled the water carrier and relaxed.

We had a nice walk as the sun was going down up towards Woodend lock when all the day visitors had gone (parking was the worst we have experienced)

Our first boat - Comet was a victim of the frost. We brought her 'drained down' and when we came to fill the water heater we had our own mini fountain. So I think we have got away lightly so far and have only identified one weakness - literally.

Just got to plan in the repair which will mean taking the oven out as I'm not able to do the job from inside the undersink cupboard.

Before that I have some river cruising to do......



Halfie said...

Wretched frost! Our daughter phoned a couple of days ago to say that there was water trickling down the wall in the bathroom and down the wall in the kitchen below. I think it's probably a burst pipe/opened joint like you've experienced but they live 160 miles away so I can't just nip round and sort it. Plumber going round tomorrow (kerCHING kerCHING).

Nev Wells said...


Nothing worse than paying an arm and a leg out to a tradesman when you can do the job yourself.... time and distance being the catalyst for the payment in your case.

I don't think the pump idea for me will work - I may put in a drain point just after the water pump and suck out the water from that point - same with the hot water.

Live and learn


Anonymous said...

Hi Nev,
Best I can tell from the photo, this joint was not properly sweated in the first place - you can see where the solder has not fused with the pipe parent metal for at least a quarter of the circumference of the joint. Secondly, whosoever made off this joint may not have properly cleaned off the flux afterwards - the tell tale is the corrosion, although a weepy joint will achieve the same in time. Best check out all of your other joints to make sure that they are robust. If I were you I would replace the run behind the cooker with Hep20 pipe and fittings, so long as the run remains clear of any significant heat transfer from the cooker. Better still, re-route it at floor level. Another tip, especially in narrowboats, is to avoid long straight runs of pipe, otherwise expansion and contraction of the pipe run and disproportionate expansion of the boat structure could cause enough by way of a loading to rupture the joints.
Cheers, Chris.

Starcross said...

Now you've got me worried! I was feeling quite smug that I'd drained down my system before Christmas after having to fit a new water heater after last winter. Now I'm thinking that maybe I had water left in the pipes as well!

Captain Ahab said...

I guess you could call it a cold snap!
WB's calorifier seems fine but I wont know about the piping till I turn everything on this weekend.

Nev Wells said...


Thanks for the comment and good advice. I think I'll follow it and replace as much as I can with plastic. I'll keep it below the cooker at floor level and then run it up away from the heat of the cooker and lag it. I wonder why they dont make a crinckle type expansion fitting for copper or plastic - surely this would take up some of the expansion?

I'm not sure how many joints I can check but can see what you are saying about the poor run, no doubt an unclean joint or lack of flux?.

I know a little more about my boat now !!

Jim - I hope you drained the water heater by the drain plug on the unit itself, from experience the fine finning is very sensitive to frost. It cost us over £700 quid to have a new water heater on Comet due to frost damage - first boating expense we had and it has not gone down hill much since !!


Looks just like the pipe snapped - it was completely off. Lucky it was in a place we could find and repair easily.