Systematics

Systematics

 

Systematics, Inc.
1025 Saunders Lane
P.O. Box 2429
West Chester, Pennsylvania  19380
Ph: (800) 222-9353
Fax:  (610) 430-8714


 
 
 

THE ICEBREAKER 350

"IB350" THAWS FROZEN METAL WATER PIPES ELECTRICALLY IN MINUTES. 

SAVE TIME, LABOR AND MONEY!

FOR TECH. SERVICE, CALL 1-610-696-9040

(c) Systematics, Inc. 1025 Saunders Ln. West Chester, Pa. 19380

WARRANTY

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MANUFACTURER'S LIMITED WARRANTY

This equipment is warranted against defects in materi­als and workmanship for a period of 2 YEARS from the date of purchase.

Should it become defective for such reason, the Manu­facturer will repair it without charge, if it is returned to the Manufacturer's factory, freight prepaid. This warranty does not cover: (1) failure due to normal wear and tear; (2) damage by accident, force majeure, improper use, ne­glect, unauthorized repair or alteration; (3) anyone other than the original purchaser.

THIS LIMITED WARRANTY IS IN LIEU OF ALL OTHER WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED. THE MANUFACTURER SHALL NOT BE LIABLE FOR ANY INJURY TO PERSONS, INCLUDING DEATH; OR LOSS OR DAMAGE TO ANY PROPERTY, DIRECT OR CON­SEQUENTIAL, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, LOSS OF USE, ARISING OUT OF THE USE, OR THE INABILITY TO USE, THE PRODUCT. THE USER AS­SUMES ALL RISK AND LIABILITY WHATSOEVER IN CONNECTION WITH THE USE OF THE PRODUCT, AND BEFORE DOING SO, SHALL DETERMINE ITS SUITABILITY FOR HIS INTENDED USE, AND SHALL ASCERTAIN THE PROPER METHOD OF USING IT.

SOME STATES DO NOT ALLOW LIMITATIONS ON HOW LONG AN IMPLIED WARRANTY LASTS, OR THE EXCLUSIONS OR LIMITATIONS OF INCIDENTAL OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES. SO THE ABOVE LIMITATIONS OR EXCLUSIONS MAY NOT APPLY TO YOU. THIS WARRANTY GIVES YOU SPECIFIC LEGAL RIGHTS, AND YOU MAY HAVE OTHER RIGHTS WHICH MAY VARY FROM STATE TO STATE.  

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INTRODUCTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ELECTRICAL THAWING OF FROZEN PIPES 

Passing low voltage, high current AC electricity through a frozen water pipe is a quick way of thawing it.  With this method it is possible to thaw iron or copper pipes buried in the ground or concealed in building walls.

This method requires that there be an area of unfrozen water under standard pressure on one side of the frozen area and an open faucet on the other (downstream) side.

NOTE: You can not thaw plastic pipes with this method as they do not conduct electricity.

Comparison of Different Thawing Methods

Electrical thawing of pipes is more convenient and demonstrably safer than other methods. The following table compares different methods.

METHOD REMARKS
Open Flame

 

  • Lack of control
  • Uses dangerous gases or other flammable liquids
  • Risk of fire
Hot Water

 

  • Lack of control.
  • Slow process
Arc Welder

 

 

  • Large power supply needed to for high voltage.
  • Hazard of high voltage shock to operator
  • Arc can melt pipes.
  • Damage to welder.
  • Risk of fire
Electric Pipe Thawer

 

  • Uses safe low voltage
  • No flame or arc.
  • Easy to use.

The Pipe Thawing Process.

With an Electric Pipe Thawer it is only necessary to heat the pipe enough to melt a thin film of ice on the inside of the pipe. The warmer water under standard pressure in the pipe before the blockage will seep through the melted film and quickly melt the rest of the ice. Once sufficient ice is melted a flow will be resumed towards the open faucet downstream of the blockage.

The water will flow about 10 minutes after the correct application of an Electric Pipe Thawer. (see Operations / Approximate Thawing Times)

NOTE: Increase the thawing times by 30% for copper pipes as they do not conduct heat as fast as iron pipes.

 Figure 1. The Thawing Process

CAUTION: The Icebreaker 350 has a built in thermal protector. It will shut down automatically when the Icebreaker's internal temperature reaches a pre-defined point.

DESCRIPTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Systematics Icebreaker 350 is a compact, light weight, electric pipe thawing machine intended for use by professional plumbers and for light industrial use. It is designed for use with 1/2 inch to 1 inch diameter copper or iron pipe up to 100 feet in length.

The unit is protected by an internal thermal switch and a 20 amp circuit breaker.

The unit comes with two 20 foot #2 AWG cables with clamps to fit 1/2 inch to 1 inch diameter pipe. Two 50 foot #2/0 AWG cables may be used for longer lengths of pipe.

NOTE: Longer cables must have a larger AWG size. If smaller diameter cables are used the current (amperage) will be limited and thawing times increased.

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SPECIFICATIONS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PART NO.      IB350
INPUT
  • Voltage
  • Phase
  • Frequency
  • Current
  • Input Cable
 
  • 115 V AC
  • single
  • 50/60 Hz
  • 20 amps
  • 15 feet
OUTPUT
  • Voltage
  • Current (maximum)
 
  • 5V
  • AC 375 Amps
PIPE THAWING CAPACITY
  • Pipe Size
  • Length
 
  • 1 inch
  • 100 feet (maximum)
DIMENSIONS
  • Height
  • Width
  • Depth
  • Weight
 
  • 8 inches
  • 8 inches
  • 8 inches
  • 31 pounds
RECOMMENDED CABLES
  • two 20 ft. #2 AWG
  • two 50 ft. #2/0 AWG

 

NOTE:  Longer cables must also be larger in AWG size.

FEATURES

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Figure 2. Front view of  IB350

A. CARRYING HANDLE: Heavy-duty constructed handle for easy lifting of the IB350.
B. OUTPUT LUGS: Terminals for quick installation and removal of pipe thawing cable assemblies.
C. INSULATED KNOBS: Allows for easy cable removal without the need for a wrench.
D. INDICATOR LAMP: Illuminates when the circuit breaker is turned "ON"
E. CIRCUIT BREAKER: Primary power switch and overload protection device.
F.

 

INPUT CORD: 15 ft. heavy-duty cord with grounded plug.

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INSTALLATION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WARNING

DO NOT CONNECT THE ICEBREAKER 350 TO THE 115 VOLT POWER SUPPLY UNTIL ALL PIPE CONNECTIONS HAVE BEEN MADE. (See Operation /   section)

WARNING

 

 

 

 

DO NOT GROUND THE ICEBREAKER IN TWO PLACES. GROUNDING IN TWO PLACES, SUCH AS A BARN AND A HOUSE, CAN CAUSE A PARALLEL LOW VOLTAGE CURRENT TO PASS THROUGH THE NEUTRAL CONDUCTOR. THIS CAN LEAD TO INCREASED HEAT AND A POTENTIAL FIRE HAZARD.

IN CASE OF PARALLEL GROUNDING:

Figure 3. Example of Parallel Grounding

  • DISCONNECT ALL GROUNDS AT EITHER END OF THE ELECTRICAL WIRING SYSTEM.
  • DISCONNECT ALL APPLIANCES TO PREVENT OVERHEATING AND BLOWN FUSES.
(1). Position the Icebreaker 350 in a convenient location between the frozen pipe and available input power.(115 V AC grounded 20 amp circuit).
CAUTION: If an extension cord is required it must be a heavy-duty 3 prong grounded conductor type.

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OPERATION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(2).

 

 

 

 

Isolate the frozen section of the pipe.

NOTE: To trace a frozen pipe inside a house.

  • Open the faucets and back trace the pipes.
  • The frozen section will normally be found in the outside walls, near doors or windows, in crawl spaces under floors.
  • If all water outlets in the house fail to operate the line between the curb valve and the house may be frozen. (See Thawing House Service Pipes)
(3). Uncoil the pipe thawing cables.
(4). Clean all pipes by sanding with coarse emery cloth to ensure a good connection
(5). Connect the clamps to the frozen pipe such that the frozen section is between the clamps. NOTE: The clamps should be at least 15 ft. apart
(6).

 

Make sure all connections are tight to prevent overheating or arcing at the clamps. NOTE: When the connections are good the pipe and cables will vibrate to the touch.
(5). Connect the free end of the cables to the Icebreaker 350. NOTE: Make sure the cables are not coiled up or are resting on steel objects.

Figure 4. Standard Icebreaker 350 Hook Up

CAUTION: Keep cables off rugs and polished surfaces that can be damaged by heat.
(6). Make sure both pipe connections are made and secure.
(7). Connect the power input cord into the 115 V supply.
(8). Turn the Icebreaker 350 to "ON"
(9).

 

Monitor the equipment during the pipe thawing operation. Use a standard AC clamp-on "Amprobe" meter to check the heating current. Current should be between 200 and 400 amps. If the the current is less than 200 amps a second Icebreaker 350 can be used to increase the current.

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WARNING

 MONITOR THE PIPE TEMPERATURE. A SMALL EMPTY PIPE WILL GET HOTTER BEFORE A LARGER PIPE WILL THAW AND COULD MELT THE SOLDER IN A COPPER FEEDER LINE

Approximate Thawing Times

The following chart indicates the APPROXIMATE thawing times under "ideal" conditions.

PIPE TO BE THAWED

  • Size  - 3/4 to 1 inch diameter
  • Type - copper or steel.

NOTE: The Icebreaker 350 relies upon a conductive material, (i.e. bronze, copper, iron) for operation. Plastic or PVC pipe cannot be thawed using this type of equipment.

Table 1

CABLES USED

 

  • Size - (2) 20 -2 #2 AWG
  • Length - 20 feet (each)
PIPE LENGTH CURRENT APPROX. THAWING TIME
20 feet 350 amps 5 minutes
40 feet 350 amps 8 minutes

Table 2

CABLES USED

 

  • Size - (2) 50-2/0 #2/0 AWG
  • Length - 50 feet (each)
PIPE LENGTH CURRENT APPROX. THAWING TIME
20 feet 300 amps 8 minutes
40 feet 270 amps 10 minutes
50 feet 240 amps 12 minutes
60 feet 220 amps 15 minutes
80 feet 200 amps 20 minutes
100 feet 180 amps 25 minutes

NOTE: Pipe thawing times can vary significantly.

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Thawing House Service Pipes

(a) Connect one cable to the exposed pipe in the kitchen or basement.
(b) Connect the other cable to the curb service at the valve at the bottom of the service riser using a Curb Key (see Figure 5).

 

Figure 5. Thawing a House Service Pipe

NOTE: Make sure the Curb Key is clean and makes a tight connection to the pipe, otherwise the only result will be to heat the Curb Key.

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Thawing Hot Water Heating Systems (Winter / Summer Hookup)

CAUTION

 

The Icebreaker 350 Pipe Thawing unit is intended for use on a direct pipeline with an unfrozen high pressure area upstream of the blockage and an open faucet downstream. USE OF THIS SYSTEM ON A HOT WATER HEATING SYSTEM MAY BE INEFFECTIVE.
NOTE: Hot Water Heating Systems use low pressure pumps. More heat will be required before the warm water can seep past the ice and continue the thawing process.
NOTE: Heat developed in the frozen section may only be 1/3 to 1/2 of the heat produced by the Icebreaker 350 and may not be sufficient to thaw the pipe. The current in the frozen section is reduced as the pipes in the Hot Water Heating System are interconnected and offer alternative electrical paths reducing the concentrated effect of the Icebreaker 350.
NOTE: Systems using cast iron radiators, large iron pipes and gravity circulation can not be thawed using the Icebreaker 350.

Figure 6. Heating Systems

(a). Separate and cap all unfrozen zones
(b). Separate frozen zone of the system.
(c). Put cardboard insulation between pipe ends.
(d). Turn on heater, pump and Icebreaker 350 (connected as shown in Figure 6).
(e). Collect thawing water in a container.
(f). When thawed, shut off Icebreaker 350, heater and system pump.
(g). Quickly reconnect all pipes
(h).

 

Check heat in all zones.

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Thawing Copper Baseboard Systems

Figure 7. Baseboard System

(a). Lift or remove any sheet metal pipe covers so that they are not touching the pipe.
(b). Make sure the copper pipe is insulated from any metal hangers or supports.
(c).

 

Attach the Icebreaker 350 clamps directly to the copper pipe (see Figure 7)

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Prevent Refreezing of Pipes

A pipe will freeze when it cools below 32 degrees F. Take the following steps to prevent freezing:

  • Insulate all cracks and openings.

  • Wrap pipes with thermostatically controlled heating tape.

  • Let water trickle through the pipe on cold nights. A flow of one gallon / hour is enough to prevent freezing.

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Thawing Pipes With Two Icebreakers

NOTE: Whenever using the Icebreaker 350 monitor the equipment during the pipe thawing operation. Use a standard AC clamp-on "Amprobe" meter to check the heating current. Current should be between 200 and 400 amps. If the the current is less than 200 amps a second Icebreaker 350 can be used to increase the current.

 WARNING

 MAKE SURE THAT THE POLARITY OF THE SECOND UNIT  IS CORRECT AND HAS BEEN TESTED BEFORE USE.

NOTE: The second Icebreaker 350 will require a second 20 amp 115 volt AC power supply.

Testing For Polarity

WARNING
  • REMOVE ALL FLAMMABLE MATERIALS, GASES etc. FROM THE IMMEDIATE AREA.
  • WEAR HEAVY GLOVES AND EYE  PROTECTION
  • Set Up #1 (Parallel) - Best for Large Diameter Pipes

Figure 8. Set-Up #1 Parallel Connections

(a). Make the two pipe connections on one side of the pipe and plug in both units.
(b). Touch the other two clamps together for an instant.
(c).

 

 

Observe the amount of spark.
  • None or weak  spark - Polarity is correct
  • Strong spark - Polarity is incorrect
(d). Correct the polarity. (i) Turn over one of the 115V plugs. OR (ii) intercahnge the cable leads on one of the Icebreaker 350 units.
(e). Repeat the test until no spark is seen.
(f). When polarity is determined to be correct, attach the clamps.
  • Set Up #2 (Series) - Best for Long Lengths of Pipe

Figure 9 - Set-Up #2 Series Connections

(a). Make all connections EXCEPT leave the clamp on one end of the pipe free.
(b). Touch the free clamp to the pipe for an instant.
(c). Observe the spark.
  • Strong Spark - Polarity is correct
  • None or weak spark - Polarity is incorrect
(d). Correct the polarity. (i) Turn over one of the 115V plugs. OR (ii) intercahnge the cable leads on one of the Icebreaker 350 units.
(e). Repeat the test until no spark is seen.
(f). When polarity is determined to be correct, attach the clamp.

NOTE: Two correctly connected Icebreakers will double the thawing action. If more heat is required a larger Icebreaker Unit and qualified operator must be used.

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REVIEW

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THINGS TO REMEMBER
  • DO - make sure there is water pressure at one side of the frozen section.
  • DO - open faucets so moving water can help thaw the pipes.
  • DO - disconnect all electrical grounds attached to the thawing area.
  • DO - disconnect other appliances while using the Icebreaker 350.
  • DO - use only heavy-duty extension cords.
  • DO - use short cables
  • DO - unwind the cables
  • DO - clean the pipe to ensure a good connection.
  • DO - connect clamps to the pipe on either side of the frozen section.
  • DO - attach the clamps to the pipe correctly
  • DO - make all connections to the pipe before plugging in the Icebreaker 350.
  • DO - watch for overheating and possible fires.
  • DO - prevent refreezing

 

  • DO NOT - leave cables wound up
  • DO NOT - make quick connections to a dirty pipe.
  • DO NOT - move the clamps while a current is flowing.
  • DO NOT - leave the Icebreaker 350 unattended.
  • DO NOT - leave the Icebreaker 350 switched "ON" overnight.

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