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"Stink Stack" Keeps Freezing Over

Any plumbers or roofing contractors out there? I live in Winnipeg, where the temperature is usually -35 to -45 degrees Celsius for 6 months of the year. This summer I put a new roof on my house. Now I have a big problem! My "stink stack" keeps freezing over! This never happened before. My house was built in 1935 and is a story and a half. It has a Cape Cod style roof (very steep angle), we put ice dam stuff on it and asphalt shingles.


What can I do to stop this freezing problem. Would wrapping the part of the stack that goes through the attic with insulation help? And, if so, what kind of insulation should I use? The roof is too steep to get up there in the winter. We have scraped the snow off from around the stack and removed the ice several times already, but it still freezes over. What can I do to permanently fix this, as I am told it is not good to have this happen!

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January 9, 20090 found this helpful

I lived in northern MN, in a two story house. In the fall before really cold weather set in we would always climb up on the roof and drop an electric heater element, designed for that job, into the vent. You have to run an electric cord outside to it somehow, of course. The extension cord would keep the heater element in proper position.

Never a problem with freezing. The element was a very low-wattage gadget and well worth the cost of the power to keep the vent open.

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January 9, 20090 found this helpful

The fastest thing to do (make sure you get someone to help or do this if you cannot climb ladders, roofs). Get a heat tape. One house we lived in/owned had one up year round. It makes so sense if you get it up there right to remove it. You need it when you can't get back up there! You can find them at a hardware store, farm store,etc. Just picked one up for my son and it was a 6 foot for $30. Don't be fooled by the single use heat tape wrap. You need the one you plug into another extension cord and run to electricity.

THEN, when it is clear, make sure you flush and run hot water in all the sinks/toilets daily. You will know when it gets slow and plug it in to take care of the problem.

URGENT. With it being frozen over, you have back up possibilities of sewer gas into the house. You may become sick or even DIE from the back up. I would call your local plumber or the carpenters to return to assist you with getting the heat tape up there. You just need to do a spiral wrap around the pipe, like a candy cane stripe.

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January 10, 20090 found this helpful

The reason for a stack is to provide air so the sinks, toilets, tubs etc. can drain properly and also to allow gases to escape. If you have more than one stack - escaping gas will be no problem it has a way to leave. when the stack freezes over - it blocks the air from getting in - you will hear your drains bubbleing when it is trying to drain - the bathrooms especially when the toilet is flushed.

An Inline vent(a one way valve that lets air in and keeps other gases out) installed under the kitchen sink will give you the air flow you need. You can purchase one at Home Depot in the plumbing Dept and it shows on the packaging how to install it.

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January 10, 20090 found this helpful

My hubby is a retired contractor; I'm not. Hope I can express his suggestion clearly.

He wondered if you had installed a flange between the "stink pipe" and roofing, or tarred around it on installation. Also, I believe there's a cap of some sort, like a chimney cap. He suggests wrapping insulating tape or tar paper around the thing.

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January 10, 20090 found this helpful

Thanks people. Yes, we put a metal flange around the stack and tarred it. The toilets do not bubble, neither do the sinks. There never was a cap over the stack, and none of the other houses in the neighborhood have caps, either. I can't find a heater element, such as you describe, in any of the plumbing or construction supply stores here. They tell me they have never heard of them.

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