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A month or two ago I installed a washer in my uninsulated garage. Now that we're getting some very cold weather coming up I'm worried about the rubber water lines freezing. I did put some foam insulation on the lines but I don't think they'll be enough. I put a thermometer in there and it tends to stay around 30-40 degrees in there. This weekend we're going to get into the negatives overnight so I was curious as to what everyone's thoughts were on an electric space heater. It would be right near the washing machine as well as the oil tank, but the furnace is in the cellar.

Obviously every precaution says don't leave it unattended and such but do you think I'd be okay for at least letting it run for a little while during the day to generate some heat? If not what else do you suggest? Am I getting too concerned about the rubber lines freezing?

Thanks.

  • pex or copper pipe? – rogerdpack Feb 10 '16 at 21:53
  • Pipes that freeze are at risk of bursting due to increased pressure caused by expansion upon freezing. The rubber lines can expand, but are at risk of bursting as they age. I'd be more concerned with the water line leading up to the valve feeding the washer. Is it copper tubing, pex, or something else? Insulation helps prevent freezing due to heat loss. You don't have a heated space, so it will be of limited value, protecting the hoses (minimally) from transient cold. In summary: I'd be concerned, both for the pipes/tubing providing the water feed, and a bit for the rubber hoses. – Tim B Feb 10 '16 at 21:55
  • The water lines are copper but they are down in the basement. I was told by my downstairs neighbor that uses the basement that its heated down there and not to worry about that section so I'm only worried about the rubber lines that come up through the wall and into the machine. – Justin Feb 10 '16 at 22:18
  • Before you do all of that, invest in a thermometer that can record the lowest temp. If it only dips below zero on occasion, odds are the garage dips below zero even less than that. – DA01 Feb 10 '16 at 22:26
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    How are you going to keep the water from freezing in the washing machine's internal mechanisms? Water is a unique substance in that it gets larger when it freezes (most other substances get smaller). It does so with a force that can break almost anything. Even moreso if there are freeze-thaw cycles that have a jacking effect, deforming a little more every cycle. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Feb 11 '16 at 0:28
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Instead of a space heater, try some pipe heating cable. This is a simple electric resistance heater that is designed to be wrapped around pipes in order to prevent freezing. The good ones have a thermostat built-in, so they'll only kick on if necessary.

example pipe heating cable

You wrap the cable around your pipes, apply insulation over the wrapped pipes, and plug it in. This will be a little trickier around your washer supply hoses, but assuming these don't move a lot you can probably just use some duct tape every 6" or so.

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Heat tape will keep the hose from freezing (where it's attached) but there are other freezing risks... e.g. where are the pipes coming from? Do they go into the uninsulated wall? Also there is still water inside the washing machine itself that can freeze.

Frankly installing a washing machine in a cold, unheated garage was not a great idea. I think you need to think about ways to insulate and heat that area more permanently. You can get electric baseboard heating installed for relatively cheaply.

I don't think anyone on here will tell you that running a portable space heater is wise, but if you must do it in the short term I would recommend an oil filled radiator style since the surface temperature doesn't get as high as some of the other electric radiator styles (lower fire risk).

  • Ok thanks Henry. Unfortunately I do not own the house and those are the only options other than going to the Laundromat. What is the major risk of running the space heater? That is what type of space heater I bought as well. – Justin Feb 11 '16 at 1:31
  • Another option is to disconnect and drain the washer for the cold season, using it only when the weather warms up again. – mrog Oct 3 '18 at 15:26
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Yep, heat tape, then wrap it with insulation. Then just plug it in every year. I've had mine for ten years wrapped like that. Never freezes. You do have to remember to plug it in though.

  • Hello, and welcome to Home Improvement. Thanks for the answer; keep 'em coming. And, you should probably take our tour so you'll know how best to contribute here. – Daniel Griscom Nov 12 at 2:55
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There is a product called heat tape. It plugs into a wall outlet and usually has a small thermostat built in. I have used it on PVC & Metal water lines even 1 hose outside. Not sure if it will work on rubber but it comes in as short as 3’ sections. I use strapping tape to hold it in place. Most home stores will have it called heat tape or heat cable 3M makes some that can be made up in any length but it is way expensive. The last brand I purchased is by Frost King it has only been on for a month or so but has kept the water flowing in the low 20’s.

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I wrapped water hoses with bubble wrap 5-6 times for the whole length. And also gave a radiator type heater nearby should some water left in the washer gets frozen along with the motor. Our garage temp was 28F

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