Tap water from river

Water pipe heating systems keep your water flowing

By Jessica Ross


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Many cottagers have to close up their cottages for the winter-not because the roads aren’t cleared but because the lake or river freezes, making their only source of water inaccessible.

Installing an in-pipe heating system -one powerful enough to keep lake water from freezing but efficient enough to keep your electricity bill reasonable-can change all that. The Retro-Line system is great for those who want to draw from a lake or river year-round, whether to use the only source of water available or avoid using a well that draws hard, contaminated or otherwise unsuitable water.

All you need at a lakeside cottage is access to water four to six feet deep and a length of CSA-approved polyethylene intake pipe running from your cottage to the lake. The pump should be in a heated crawl space or in an insulted pumphouse protected from the elements.

We chose to install a Retro-Line system by Heat-Line. The system is essentially a self-regulating heating cable that you thread into your pipe to keep it from freezing.

The system is self-regulating because it delivers heat output where it’s needed down the pipe. The heating cable increases its output in response to cold and decreases heat output in response to warmth, thus keeping your pipe from freezing. The self-regulating system won’t overheat or burn out. It comes with an insulation wrap that increases the energy efficiency of the cable.

The system is good for cottages with rocky or wooded terrain: there’s no need to bury the pipe. You can run your water line over land and rock, install the insulation over it and, if you wish, protect it by running plastic corrugated pipe over it. The system works in temperatures below -40º C.

We used Hanflo polyethylene pipe fittings to connect the water pipe to the pump, because they are durable and rustproof. Retro-Line comes in 120-volt systems in lengths up to 250′ and 240-volt systems up to 550′. It can draw from one to 6.7 watts per foot, based on the ambient and pipe temperatures. A thermostat is an optional add-on: using one can dramatically increase your energy savings. This system comes with a GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter), a heating cable and a T compression fitting.

For more information, call 800-584-4944 or visit www.heatline.com

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