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Thread: Possible frozen line between main and meter

  1. #16
    DIY Member shadowjfaith's Avatar
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    Again I appreciate the help, as I've been getting the run around from the water company and it's nice that someone (even over the internet) wants to get my water back.

  2. #17
    DIY Member shadowjfaith's Avatar
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    I have asked about a pipe thawing machine and the plumbers I've talked to that do have one don't have cables long enough as the only two accessible points are the pit and where it enters the house. I do have a plumber coming out this evening and I'll see what he can do or what he recommends. I may be giving a heat lamp a try, but I'm doubtful.

  3. #18
    Jack of all trades DonL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shadowjfaith View Post
    As for who repairs what, it may be my problem to repair (still confirming this) from my foundation to the water main (that includes after the meter) according to the terms and conditions.
    You may be confusing, Before the meter and after the meter. Or I am confused. lol

    You are responsible for after the meter.

    Before the meter is the City side.

    They do want you to have water, so you will pay your water bill.

    I think they need to come back and fix their screw up.


    Good Luck.
    Last edited by DonL; 02-05-2014 at 09:31 AM.
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  4. #19
    DIY Member shadowjfaith's Avatar
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    DonL I wish this was actually the case, but it's not. The supervisor told the tech (who has been working under this assumption for 24 years) that I am responsible for the pit. This prompted me to start looking into the matter to find out what I really am responsible for and it does say according to their terms and conditions that they are responsible to the public right of way, which I believe is where the main line is. So they have the main line and the rest falls to me. I've checked with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission and they have confirmed that this is what the are responsible for, but what they couldn't tell me was where my public right of way is (I need to contact the assessors office for that).

    I did say after the meter on that post when I meant before.
    Last edited by shadowjfaith; 02-05-2014 at 09:36 AM.

  5. #20
    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    I did say after the meter on that post when I meant before.
    If I had a long cord, I would be running a lightbulb out there and cover it with insulation. Just saying.
    Even if someone thaws it, you're going to need to keep it warm until things thaw out.

  6. #21
    DIY Member shadowjfaith's Avatar
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    Did find out that the public right of way does land just about where the meter is so everything is good there (that's a relief).

    After another conversation with the water company (was surprised they even answered) they are sending someone out today to replace the meter and check the supply side so hopefully something will be accomplished there.

    After all is said and done I will be putting a heat source in the pit just to make sure.

    Thanks for the help, I will update any other information as it comes in to what the actual problem is.

  7. #22
    Jack of all trades DonL's Avatar
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    Please do report back.

    It is bad enough when the utility company screws you with utility bills when everything is working, let alone getting screwed around when their utilities don't work.


    Good Luck.
    Theory only works perfect in a vacuum.

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  8. #23
    DIY Senior Member Reach4's Avatar
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    Here is the past thirty days of Indy temperatures:

    If you measure down to the pipe and meter in the pit, are they 48 inches below the cover?

    The fact that you shoveled the snow off might have contributed to the problem. Snow, especially fluffy snow, insulates.

    So maybe put that 100 watt light bulb or other heat source down the pit. Perhaps cover with a fiberglass bat or more before putting the cover in place. It's not that it is at all sure that the frozen place is near there, but it's what you have to work with. The actual freezing place may be where the pipe passes under a ditch, and the ground is thinner there.

    Try heat, insulation, and drive over the electrical cord slowly. Be careful to not drive over the cover, because you don't want to shear off the power cord. Power the extension cord through a GFCI-protected outlets. Outdoor outlets should be GFCI protected.

  9. #24
    Jack of all trades DonL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Reach4 View Post
    Here is the past thirty days of Indy temperatures:

    That is why I moved to Texas.
    Theory only works perfect in a vacuum.

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  10. #25
    DIY Member shadowjfaith's Avatar
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    First update, I have yet to get a heat source, but plan on getting one tonight if things go well.

    Water company left a note on my mail box while I was at work (didn't call me to let me know they were coming) saying that my line in the meter pit was frozen call the plumber back. You may or may not be aware that Indiana got around 10 inches of snow yesterday and guess what was still on my meter pit cover when I got home. I think it's real funny that the service tech could tell my line was frozen buried under 10 inches of snow.

    Another tech is being sent out tonight (which is why I can't leave to go get a heat lamp yet) and we'll see what he says.

    Updates to follow.

  11. #26
    DIY Senior Member Reach4's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shadowjfaith View Post
    Another tech is being sent out tonight (which is why I can't leave to go get a heat lamp yet) and we'll see what he says.
    You do not need a heat lamp. Any lamp that consumes 100 watts or so will generate 100 watts of heat. You can use your trouble light, or an old electric blanket, or a hundred or more watt soldering iron (use bricks to keep tip away from stuff), etc.

    A crock pot set on high might be good. Just keep high heat away from anything that will burn, and keep high heat away from the glass on the meter.

  12. #27
    DIY Member shadowjfaith's Avatar
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    Update 2 - A supervisor was actually out last night and replaced my meter. My main issue seems to be that I have too much gravel in my pit. I was not aware that the pit needs to be 49 inches deep or as deep as you can get it. I will be addressing this issue when I can, but with the ground frozen I'm not sure I can make much progress yet. The tech showed up a bit late so I was unable to get heat into the pit (we did attempt to dump about 4 gallons of warm water into the pit to thaw it out there, but to no avail) but that will be done today. If that doesn't work I will have to come up with something else.

    A few questions below.

    The line is frozen between the main and the meter so would a thawing machine be usable in this case. From my understanding you have to close the circuit with the frozen portion in the middle. That would mean my pit and the main line. I don't know if the main line is feasible, but would a hookup to a fire hydrant work? I know it is on the same main line that I am and it would 'close' the circuit, but it is a bit of a distance and I'm not sure if it is even possible.

    Also I have heard about line in line thawing where you would run a smaller line down the pipe and then pump warm water throw. I would remove the meter for this and run into the main from the pit. I know that once water does start flowing it comes quick. What problems could I run into here?

    Thanks again and more updates to follow this evening.

    Some side info.

    I was informed that Citizens took over the lines in my district from Indianapolis Water about 10 years ago and the lines were inspected by Cumberland. Well Cumberland does not have records on what depth my lines were buried, the only info the have is were they are (the unfortunate case of old data). On top of that the lines were dug by hand when they were placed (my actual service line may or may not have been, but the main was) so you can't say for sure what happened. The icing on the cake is that main lines installed now (as they have discovered problems with old lines) are buried 2 feet deeper than they were back then. So all that being said I thought my lines were buried up to code (and rightly should have been), but other than digging them up I can't be sure.

    I was also issued an apology from the supervisor that I didn't know about the problem 7 days ago.
    Last edited by shadowjfaith; 02-06-2014 at 07:23 AM. Reason: Side info added

  13. #28
    In the Trades Tom Sawyer's Avatar
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    Air compressor and a vacuum will thaw it out.
    [B]No, plumbing ain't rocket science. Unlike rocket science, plumbing requires a license[B]

  14. #29
    DIY Member shadowjfaith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Sawyer View Post
    Air compressor and a vacuum will thaw it out.
    Can you give me a bit more detail on that process?

  15. #30
    In the Trades Tom Sawyer's Avatar
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    get some small diameter flexible plastic tubing, attach it to the comperssor and start feeding it down the pipe while the compressor runs. The compressor puts out air that is hot enough to melt the ice. At the same time put the vacuum close to the pipe and wrap a rag around it to half ass seal between the vac hose and the pipe. You need the vacuum running to suck the thawed and cold water out as the compressor does its thing. Takes a little while but it will thaw it out.
    [B]No, plumbing ain't rocket science. Unlike rocket science, plumbing requires a license[B]

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