Pipe Freezing Q&A

Pipe Freezing Q&A

PHPI questions Freeze Master, to get the company’s view on the benefits of pipe freezing and how installers can go about it.  

Q. What is pipe freezing?
Pipe Freezing is a method that allows you to isolate, remove and fit a new part in a system without the need to drain down. There are, or were, methods of performing such a task by using gases, specifically CO2 tanks or aerosol spray cans.  

Using our ‘Freeze Master’ Machine, you can select a specific area of a pipe, connect the purpose designed ‘Freeze Heads’ to the pipework, then it will create what we call an ‘Ice Plug’. After that work can be done on the problem area without any fuss, mess or risk. 

Q. In what kinds of circumstances would plumbers typically consider using it?
Plumbers and engineers would use pipe freezing to isolate a problem and then repair or replace the part that’s causing the problem. They would usually go this route when they are unable to locate the stopcock or full bore valve to turn off the water supply as well as to avoid draining down the pipes. Heating engineers would use this solution to replace or fix radiators, fire sprinklers and valves as it can save a lot of time and is much easier than other alternatives. 

In a lot of cases a stopcock or full bore valve is used to operate the water for an entire building (e.g. a block of flats or an office building) this would mean that you would have to turn off the water supply for the whole building just to fix one small problem, but you can avoid this by freezing the pipes instead. Another common circumstance that may force plumbers to undertake pipe freezing would be the condition of the stopcock itself as it is not unusual to find stopcocks in poor corroded conditions and rendered unusable. 

Q. What are the benefits of taking this approach?
The main positives for pipe freezing are that it saves a lot of time and energy compared with the alternatives, which leads to saving money. Often when some pipework needs to be repaired, plumbers or engineers need to weigh their options and come up with the best solution. However, pipe freezing can be used to isolate and repair almost any problem.  

By using our ‘Freeze Master’ Machine, you are guaranteed to save time, money and energy minus the risks that come with using aerosol spray cans and minus the inconvenience of turning off the water supply. Freezing a pipe with our machine is as easy as connecting the ‘freeze heads’ to the pipe and turning it on. It can take as little as 6-8 minutes, while locating a specific stopcock or a full bore valve can be difficult, and in some cases impossible especially in older buildings.  

The machine was developed to be a portable, electric and motorised refrigeration system that would freeze pipes for an indefinite period. This means while it’s freezing you can prepare your other tools/equipment as there’s no danger of the ice melting and flooding as long as the machine is on and connected to the pipe. 

Additionally, the machine is a sealed system so no gas is expelled and the gas is continually recycled and reused. As long as it is maintained well and there’s no leakage detected, there’s no need to refill the machine and there’s no additional costs on top the more you use it. This of means it’s much more environmentally friendly than other methods. 

Q. Are there any factors/issues that plumbers should pay particular attention to when considering this option?
As most people working in this kind of industry would know, certain risks would be involved by using ‘conventional’ methods. There’s also no real way of knowing how long a job may take and one big risk would be that a gas bottle/can/tank could empty out in the middle of a job. 

There is also the dangerous risk of the using the Chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) range of gases (Specifically R-12, R-22 and R-502). These type of gases are often used in aerosol spray cans, they can create a toxic fume when in contact with a naked flame. 

Another issue is whether it would work on certain types of pipes. It’s important to know that gas kits would find it difficult to freeze pipes with high pressure water. There’s also a chance it could cause damage to the pipes as attempting to freeze pipes with high water pressure could very likely cause flooding. 

Our machine eliminates the risks and remedies the problems. No gas is discharged from the machine as it is recycled and reused over and over again – it is essentially like buying an endless source of gas canisters. No damage will be caused by it and it works on almost any type of pipes including copper, iron, lead and plastic ones. It should also be noted that it can handle a water pressure of up to 100 bar (1500 psi). 

Q. What equipment is needed to freeze pipes?
With the ‘conventional’ method of using gas to freeze pipes, you would need a gas kit, which would typically be with a tank of liquid CO2 or aerosol spray can. Technically speaking, that’s all you need but because of the risk and danger these methods present, you would need some protective gear. (ie. goggles, mask, gloves etc…) 

With our Freeze Master machine, all you really need is the machine itself. It’s safe, easy, mess free and quick. The machine is also relatively light and portable and is fitted with all the add-ons needed to adjust it for different sized pipes.

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