View Full Version : Main Water line not working

12-18-2008, 04:05 PM
A few days ago we turned that tap on in the morning and...no water! all taps not producing any water at all. The plumber came and was baffled, the pipes don't seem to be frozen a the entry to the house, the pipes in the house work fine (we currently have emergency water supply from our neighbor). We have a 30 year old rancher type house with all plumbing below the main house in the insulated 5 foot crawl space. We have never had any problems like this or even a frozen pipe.

We have been told we have a number of options

1. Replace outside line at huge expense and leave yard in complete chaos.

2. Run a current through the line at each end. I'm not sure what this would tell us. One plumber thinks this is a good idea to tell whether the pipe is intact. There is no obvious sign of a rupture or break as there is no water coming out of the ground or wet area - at least that we have found yet. If the pipe is intact, I'm not sure what is done next, does the current melt ice in it if that is the problem? At this point, I guess they would try to fix the problem?

We are very unsure of what to do, every plumber has a different idea. Can you help?

12-18-2008, 04:14 PM
Where are you and how cold is it?

12-18-2008, 04:29 PM
Either a pipe has burst (in which case, you should see a large lake forming, not to mention the water meter would be turning like crazy), a pipe is frozen, or your water has been turned off.

Replacing the outside line at this point is sheer lunacy.
Assuming that your water has not been turned off, you can thaw out the pipes with a low voltage current, provided the pipes are not made of plastic.

12-18-2008, 05:20 PM
We live in the Pacific Northwest (Port Moody, BC, Canada) and it is a few degrees below zero in the daytime and about -10 or so at night.

Thanks for the info on the low current option. Would this work to melt the ice if the pipe is frozen? One plumber said this doesn't melt the ice it just tells you whether your pipe is intact and would be a waste of time.

12-18-2008, 05:35 PM
Where is your water meter located?

12-18-2008, 05:49 PM
I don't think we have a water meter. The municipality we live in is set up with an assessed value for water for single family homes. This is paid once per year along with garbage service, etc and is not dependant on usage.

Gary Swart
12-18-2008, 05:51 PM
It is almost impossible for you line to be broken to the extent that you would get no water at all, and certainly if somehow it was burst to that degree, there would be a massive lake above the break. It doesn't take much exposed pipe to freeze. I suspect the meter manhole as a likely spot, but it could be in other places too. Pipes in a wall or crawlspace are other common trouble spots. Since you have no water at all, it has to be in the main line. Heat lamps and space heater can be used to thaw lines, but extreme care must be used as these can cause fires. An ordinary light bulb will work in confined areas, and are especially useful to kept a line from freezing once a trouble spot has been identified.

12-18-2008, 06:10 PM
If the pipe is copper and it is frozen, it is likely that it is split. YOu may not get a flood until it thaws out, so the lack of a swamp is not an indication you don't have a broken pipe.

12-18-2008, 06:56 PM
You need to find a plumber that has one of these...