I am looking for a way to fix an every winter, problem with the drain pipe from our washer.

We live in Alaska and we have a 1960's built ranch with no basement but crawl space under entire house (no outlets). The drain pipe from our washer is flush against the outer concrete block wall. So every time it drops below freezing for more than a day it causes the water in the U part of the drain pipe to freeze solid.

We asked a plumber but when he looked at it he said there is no way to get anything between the pipe and outer because there is absolutely no space (which is true). Is there any alternate way to keep this section from freezing? My husband would appreciate something that didn't involve an extension cord and a hair dryer.


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  • 2
    A picture would help the suggestions quite a bit, especially since a professional plumber threw his arms up. – Gary Bak Aug 16 '18 at 17:16

Some kind of pipe heater for use in cold weather sounds like a possible solution here.

You would need to run electrical with some kind of heavy duty extension cord.


Using your favorite search engine, look up "Pipe Heater Cable". Most have instructions to attach to the outside of the pipe, but some may be fed down into the pipe. Be sure to read and follow the direction coming with these and I would avoid cheap ones from ebay/amazon, you don't want the pipe or your house damaged to save a buck.


Stock tank heaters are made to be submerged. That may be another option.

  • Are immersion heaters that small a thing? I like the thought, but am not sure if you can get the right parts for it... – ThreePhaseEel May 16 at 11:38
  • How would you set this up? You aren't thinking of having it inside the trap, are you? (More details, please.) – Daniel Griscom May 16 at 12:08

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