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Thread: 82 year old galvanized main into house

  1. #1
    I&C Engineer (mostly WWTP) Lakee911's Avatar
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    Default 82 year old galvanized main into house

    So, water coming into my house is 3/4 galvanized iron pipe. House was built in 1923. I have no idea of knowing if this is original pipe or not, but let's assume it is (or where can I find out?). Should I buy the insurance to cover my "rear end" when/if it busts? What's average replacement cost? Can a homeowner do it? What's the life expectancy? I'm approx 35feet from the curb. Never could find my curb stop valve to shut off the water out there though. My meter is in the basement though so if it busts in the yard, the meter would stop not run.

    Thx
    Jason

  2. #2
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    If you call the water Dept. they can locate and mark the curb stop. Once this is done you could call a few plumbers that advertise back hoe work and ask them for a ballpark price to replace the line. When/if the line breaks you will not be billed for the water as it won't be going through the meter. There is no telling how long the line will last but it's just a matter of time before it bursts.

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    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    I seriously doubt that this is the original pipe, but the fact that it is very old galvanized guarantees that it is (a) not even close to 3/4" now because it is going to be corroded inside, and (b) you're on borrowed time before it starts to leak. The good news is, when it does start to leak, it won't just blow out and flood you, the bad news is, it could leak for sometime before you realize it. The best thing to do in my opinion, is to replace it with 1" copper. I say 1" because it isn't much more for the 1" pipe than for 3/4" and you can get much more volume through it, but 3/4" would be fine. It's a labor intensive job. You might work with the plumber to do the digging yourself and let him do the actual hookup. If you're not up to the job yourself, you could hire a couple of strong backs for much less that what the plumber would charge. You should be able to fine the old line by eyeballing where the meter is and where it enters the house. It very unlikely the installer did anything other than a straight line.

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    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    Red face

    Sorry, I didn't read your description of the layout closely enough. I find it interesting that the meter is in the house, usually a water provider likes to have the meter accessible to read and to turn off when necessary, but if that's what you have, let's revise the process a tad. With the street location a mystery, you can do as was suggested and have the city find it. Or, since you know where it enters the house, dig down outside to uncover enough pipe to see the direction it is headed. That will tell you pretty close to where it will intersect the main because as I stated in my first reply, the original installer went in a straight line. Third possibility is just to continue digging the old line out until you get to the main. Then have the plumber out to put in the new line. I'd think seriously about a box with a cut off valve in it where it joins the main.

  5. #5
    DIY Senior Member Mike Swearingen's Avatar
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    Check with your Building Inspection Department and the public water supplier agency for local code and rules.
    A homeowner can usually DIY replace the main supply line (not difficult at all), unless it is very deep and requires a backhoe, etc.
    Here in the sunny South of rural NC, it only has to be about a foot or so deep to get below the frost line, but if you're up North, it may be way deep.
    When the local County ran County water here a number of years ago, most everyone DIYed it with a portable trenching machine and PVC or copper line.
    The County was responsible for the line to the meter, but would install the line from the meter to the home "at-cost", if the homeowner chose. (All meters here are at the nearest public road right-of-way.) Maybe your local public water utility will replace the line at a reasonable cost, or maybe they require a licensed plumber.
    A "back-flow preventer" (check valve) and shut-off valves on the home side at the meter and at the home are required here.
    All depends on local code and where you live. I agree with Gary. The best is to replace it with 1" Type K copper line, especially if you're up North (and the water isn't acidic). Down here where the public water is sometimes acidic, PVC (which I did) is fine. My 2 cents. DIY, if you can.
    Good luck!
    Mike

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    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    Up here our water meters are 5/8" so 3/4 is plenty big enough. 1" will not improve anything that I know of especially with only a 35' run. Why do some of you recomend a 1" pipe as opposed to 3/4". Are your meters larger than here?
    Last edited by Cass; 11-30-2005 at 05:22 AM.

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    General Contractor Carpenter toolaholic's Avatar
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    Default gary

    i started out back east. most homes have full basements, and that is where the meters are. you would have to shovel 2 ft. of snow to get to a sidewalk meter box in winter!

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    DIY Member brianj's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by toolaholic
    i started out back east. most homes have full basements, and that is where the meters are. you would have to shovel 2 ft. of snow to get to a sidewalk meter box in winter!
    Yep! Mine has a remote reader on it that has a sensor outside the house for them to read. Even my gas meter is inside - which I hate since I have to arrange for them to meet me ever 6 months to physically read it. I enter it online each month.

  9. #9
    DIY Senior Member Mike Swearingen's Avatar
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    Our meters are 3/4" here, and that's what I installed. However, some neighbors that installed 1" have better water volume, which is all that the 1" is about. It doesn't increase the pressure, but it does seem to help increase the volume when more than one tap or appliance is running.
    Mike

  10. #10
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Swearingen
    Our meters are 3/4" here, and that's what I installed. However, some neighbors that installed 1" have better water volume, which is all that the 1" is about. It doesn't increase the pressure, but it does seem to help increase the volume when more than one tap or appliance is running.
    Mike
    Thats what I can't figure. If you start with 3/4" meter increase to 1" and then reduce down to 3/4" once it gets into the house as most homes are, how does that increase flow. If it doesn't Y bother with 1" K copper and it's added expense.

  11. #11
    I&C Engineer (mostly WWTP) Lakee911's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by brianj
    Yep! Mine has a remote reader on it that has a sensor outside the house for them to read. Even my gas meter is inside - which I hate since I have to arrange for them to meet me ever 6 months to physically read it. I enter it online each month.
    Mine too ... I have an older house in Columbus, OH. New houses in Cincinnati both are outside. Cincy has a special sensor on top of the meter cover (which is about a 4ft hole w/ meter way down there) so they can remotely read it with some sort of widget. Neat.

    Thanks for all the advice. I'm gonna look into replacing it so when/if I need to, I'm not in trouble. Thanks!

  12. #12
    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    The city estimates consumption during the harsh winter months based on past usage. The in the spring they balance the books. It comes pretty close. We are billed every 2 months, so it's only a couple of readings at the most that they do this.

  13. #13
    I&C Engineer (mostly WWTP) Lakee911's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Swart
    The city estimates consumption during the harsh winter months based on past usage. The in the spring they balance the books. It comes pretty close. We are billed every 2 months, so it's only a couple of readings at the most that they do this.
    Got to thinking today that if its NOT close you could be making a few bucks (bill a lot in summer and "float" in the winter), or vica versa. My company will calculate for up to 6 or 12 months if they can't get to the meter. When they can get to it, they only botheer to read every other month. In my old apt I'd routinely have bills like 2, 40, 12, 35, 15. With rates changing monthly one of us was getting ripped off.

    Got my bill for one month of calculated (from PO usage) service: 142CCF. They don't know that I replaced furnace months ago, and 11 days ago, a new hot water heater. Actual usage: 79


    Jason

  14. #14
    I&C Engineer (mostly WWTP) Lakee911's Avatar
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    Well, my water line finally broke. I did find out that it didn't appear to have been replaced, so it lasted 86.5 years! My 3 years of $35payments for the waterline warranty have now really paid off. In Columbus it is Customer's responsibility.

    It broke late last week and it is currently still broken. Water is rushing out of a hole in the front yard and out of the pipe to access the curb stop. I estimate that I'm losing 5 to 10 GPM and the city is fine with that provided that it is fixed with a week or so. I have very little water pressure--just enough to barely take a shower. Getting some air in the line too, so we're not drinking the water.

    I have a Contractor coming out on Friday to make the repairs. They're planning on pushing the new pipe under the sidewalk, open trench 20-some feet through the front yard and then pulling the new line in with the old line under the flowerbed and porch.

    I'll be sure to take pictures.

  15. #15
    Plumbing Designer FloridaOrange's Avatar
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    So are you going to cancel the warranty soon? Definitely sounds like you made out on that deal.
    Matt
    Semi-professional plumbing designer
    Enjoying life in SW Florida

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