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Thread: Info on replacing main water line

  1. #1

    Question Info on replacing main water line

    I plan to replace the 50+ year old water line connecting my house to the water meter since I am having the driveway torn up anyway to replace that . I am hoping I can get some info here. I am a complete technopeasant, but have questions about what I've been told.

    1. How deep should the water line be? The original is about 18" down, but I've had someone tell me that it can be 12" deep. Since the meter is 18" down, shouldn't the replacement be as well? Would having the new pipe higher affect water pressure?

    2. The original line is on a straight line to the house. The same someone tells me it is ok for the replacement (a pvc pipe) to curve. Is that true?

    3. Do I understand correctly that the replacement pipe, although pvc, needs three feet of copper pipe at each end?

  2. #2
    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    Default replacing main water line

    I would keep the line at the 18" depth. I don't know where you are, but if you are in the northern latitudes, the line should be below frost depth, but depth will not affect the pressure or the flow. I think you are wise to replace the line now, but why with PVC rather than copper? I'm not sure about the end connections with PVC. As far as curving, that will not affect pressure or flow either, but for possible future maintance (a leak 30 years from now) it would be most helpful to the person repairing the line if it ran straight from the meter to where it enters the house. If it was my house, I'd run 1" heavy copper from my 1" meter (or 3/4") straight from the meter to the house, and I'd be darn sure it was well below frost depth. Come to think of it, that's exactly what I did 15 years ago. It sounds like you have no expertise in this type of work, so I would strongly suggest you have at least 3 estimates and discuss with the contractor what type and size pipe you should use and the depth to lay it.

  3. #3

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    I'm in Southern California, so frost depth isn't a consideration.

    PVC because that is what the guy recommended. But thought I'd do a bit of research to find out a bit more. Need all the help I can get!

  4. #4
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Copper is a little harder to break. You have a chance of not ruining it if someone puts a shovel into it. The pvc can be weaker. Around here, you need your water line down about 40", or you'd end up with a frozen line...
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  5. #5
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default pipe

    PVC is normally installed at least 18" deep, copper 12". Most areas require at least 36" of copper at either end. At the house to provide a degree of grounding for the electrical system, and at the meter to provide some flexibility. Unless the distance is more than 100 feet, I would install a single piece of copper, rather than have two PVC to copper transitions, either one of which will probably crack in a few years.

  6. #6

    Default pipe

    Hello
    1st time poster here, I also need to replace my service line from my shut off at the road to the stub coming out of my house ( I have no meter )

    I live in western Wa, my house was built in '86, the "blue colored" pvc type service line that got ran has a split in it, actually 2 but i did a splice repair in 1 of them last summer, but now the split is in the section under my driveway

    From my understanding there was a class action suit against this particular product, but it is too late to get in on it, my question is what would be the best product to use?? ridgid copper, soft copper, or a pvc type of pipe?, a general contractor I know told me I could go with a soft copper type pipe that just rolls out, I only need to make one 90 degree turn on the new run, i would think the ridgid copper would be better, ( how long of a section can I buy? the total run is about 60ft, with a 90 degree bend at about the 40 foot mark, i plan to hire some cheap laborors to do the digging, and me and my contractor friend will install the pipe, I am pretty mechanical inclined a (welder by trade ) , i know how to sweat/solder copper pipe, i am just not sure how it hooks up to the main shut off at the road, I assume it threads in that part. any help / advice would be appreciated

  7. #7
    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    Default

    The meter end may be 3/4" so a 3/4" male adapter will work there.

    From there, you can use a 1x3/4" coupling up to the copper if that's what you choose to use. 1" soft comes in 60 foot lengths.

    I just replaced a blue line in Bellevue last week.

  8. #8

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    thanks Terry

    what material did you use for the Bellevue job?, is soft copper a acceptable product to use? will it kink when I make the 90 degree turn? I got 1" copper stubbed out of the house and running thru the garage , as I said I have no meter , just a shut off at the road with the blue service line connected to the 1" copper stub coming out of garage, ball valve shut off in garage, followed by 1" copper pipe

  9. #9
    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    Soft copper is the preferred product underground, since you can run a continuous length with no underground connections (at least 60 feet; I think 100 foot rolls also available). At a minimum use type L. Tpe K is even heavier, but also much more expensive. However, if it cost you an extra $1 per foot now to not have to EVER dig it up again........!

    It is soft; it comes in rolls; you can make broad sweeping bends, but it will crimp if bent too severely. Bending tools are available similar to an electricians conduit bender. You should rent one of these if you need to make any turns.

  10. #10

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    Thanks jimbo

    I appreciate the info, truthfully I am a little hesitant on the soft copper, just because I am not familiar with it, but I do want to do the job the correct/best way and dont want to have to mess with it again, I would of thought regular copper would of been the best choice ( except for all the connections that would need to be soldered )

    I do need to make one sharp 90 degree bend, so I will need to rent that tool
    anyone else want to chime in on this as what material to use for this job and why , not trying to beat a dead horse just wanting to be sure I make the correct choice

    Thanks Kurt

  11. #11
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default water line

    Use soft copper, it comes in 60' and 100' foot rolls so you should not need to have any joints except at the ends. Can't you round that corner so you do not have to make a sharp bend?

  12. #12

    Talking changing water main line from 3/4" to 1"

    I've discovered that my 40' water main from the meter to the house is 3/4" buried about 3" deep. Whatever the reason the knucklehead who did this had is beyond me but he also left a 3" galvanized nipple coming out of the meter which probably is a pinhole of an opening by now.
    I'm preparing to sink it to 12"-16" with type L copper all the way but my question is will I notice a volume difference if I go to 1" for that 40 feet? I don't know if my meter is 3/4" or 1". And if that is galvanized, should that be replaced as well?

    thanks,
    Mike Amico

  13. #13
    General Contractor Carpenter toolaholic's Avatar
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    Default my 2 cents

    i agree on 1" k soft copper. i,m a gen contr. that does all of his own plumbing. i,m in n. ca. but started in mass., and that,s what we always used. save a few bucks elsewhere, not underground. good luck

  14. #14
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default pipe

    You will only notice a difference in volume and/or pressure if the old line was inadequate. The meter is probably okay without changing it.

  15. #15
    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    IMO 160 or 200 psi rated polyethylene (PE) tubing is a much better choice. It comes in 100-500' rolls.

    Gary
    Quality Water Associates

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