Bigger is Better...Pipe
Did you ever get a Christmas Eve surprise you did not want??? We got one this last Christmas, a whopper. Our bathroom drain line froze...sigh. Right in the middle of the kids bathes. So that left me with baling the tub from my son's bath and baling water after giving our daughter a bath and me using the kitchen sink for a sponge bath. Our problem? The drain line was only 1 1/2" PVC pipe. Apparently we should have had a 4" (they are way less likely to freeze) pipe for the drain. This was a mistake we made in our early years and apparently we had to wait until we were below zero as highs to learn it.
So after being gone for 3 days for Christmas, my husband working the next 3, and the family being sick we finally got to tackle that "gift" last week. My husband started by taking out the kerosene heater (sorry no picture) and pointing it up the pipe to defrost the line. I know, absurd. Then my husband heeded my grandfathers advice (always listen to your elders, they probably have had the same problem at some point) and took his propane torch and a drill bit and tried to drill a "hole" (hubby's words) to unplug the line.
The first bit we started with was a 5' flexible one. This worked until it wouldn't go any farther with it. We then lit a fire over the line in an attempt to unfreeze the ground to dig a a hole closer to the house and try the drilling technique again. This time we tried it with 12" extension bits and added onto to the length until we lost the drill bit in the line. Obviously we were not going to drill through the ice, so my husband decided to take a day off from this and start again the Friday after New Years.
Friday started late, which seems to be the case now that the manly demo stuff is done and we have kids. It was a very good day to be playing with fire. Our goal was to unfreeze the ground where the line was to dig a trench along where the PVC pipe ran to run a new line of 4" drain tubing. My part in this was the fire, I tend to be a little bit of a pyromaniac. Give me some warm coals and I can have a warm fire blazing in a few minutes.
My husband dug for the new line while I kept the fires burning. I would like to note at this point we were about 6-7' from the house and the PVC pipe was broke so my hubby started drilling thru the ice again. Between my fire and the drill we did defrost the line but since we were so close to home (no pun intended) we dug as close to the house as we could so we wouldn't have this problem again.
After we got the trench all cleaned and pretty we threw that drain tile in fast. It was almost dark, the fire was out and so was any heat that we had to keep us warm! It was so wonderful to actually take a nice hot shower after having just a toilet in the bathroom and playing with all that smoke.
Lesson Learned: Sometimes its better to overkill with size for a drain line and if you get a fire warm enough it will defrost anything no matter how cold it is!