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Thread: Possible frozen line between main and meter

  1. #31
    DIY Senior Member Reach4's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shadowjfaith View Post
    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.
    Pouring hot water into the pit seems like not such a good idea.

    Thinking about this some more, I think more heat is better. Something over 1000 watts sounds good. A small space heater, for example. How about an electric iron? Yep. You can probably get one at Goodwill. You don't care if the soleplate is skuffed. Again, protect the glass of the meter from direct contact. Do not use flammable insulation down the hole. I think I would set the soleplate on a brick. Sooner rather than later.

    That compressor idea is interesting. I think the hope is to get the ice plug to creep so that it can be pushed into a warmer area. The trick is to not blow up your plumbing.

    Your idea to hook up to the fire hydrant is interesting. I was thinking of a ground rod driven near but not through the supply pipe.

  2. #32
    In the Trades Tom Sawyer's Avatar
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    I doesn't creep, it melts. Done it hundreds of times. Have a compressor and vacuum with the hose and fittings set up to do it. A pressure washer can be converted to work too but it makes a god awful mess.

    Take an 1-1/2" pvc san-tee and a rubber reducer that will go from 1-1/2" to your pipe size. Then take an 1-1/2" gem cap and drill a hole in it large enough to push the flexible line from the compressor through. The outlet of the san tee gets adapted to the vacuum hose. I used a Fernco coupling but for one time use duct tape will work fine.
    Last edited by Tom Sawyer; 02-06-2014 at 08:31 AM.
    [B]No, plumbing ain't rocket science. Unlike rocket science, plumbing requires a license[B]

  3. #33
    DIY Member shadowjfaith's Avatar
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    I was thinking that some type of rod could be driven down to the main, but with the ground the way it is I was unsure of the difficulty of that especially if the fire hydrant would work. So far all good solutions and I will be attempting the heat first, but as I said I'm not sure it will work just because I think the line is frozen a bit past the meter and I'm unsure if the heat will carry down the pipe enough. Don't know if I can get access to a compressor or not (my grandfather has one, but I have no idea if it can be easily transported or not) but if anything it sounds like a very plausible solution.

    When I do get the line unfrozen I assume some ice will be flying out of the AV valve at the meter along with a ton of water, if I was to have someone with channel locks ready to close the valve would they be able to with the pressure. I know the water company carries the T joints in their trucks and you can get a lot of leverage on that, but an arm down the hole with pliers may be tricky.

  4. #34
    DIY Member shadowjfaith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Reach4 View Post
    Thinking about this some more, I think more heat is better. Something over 1000 watts sounds good. A small space heater, for example. How about an electric iron?
    I do own a 1500 watt heat gun. If I was to fashion some kind of support so that it will get air flow along with not blowing directly on anything how would that fair?

    It claims to be around 700 (low setting) - 1000 (high setting) degrees F and somewhere around 5,000 BTUs/hour.
    Last edited by shadowjfaith; 02-06-2014 at 08:44 AM.

  5. #35
    Jack of all trades DonL's Avatar
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    You need to think about the extension cord that you are using.

    And make sure you plug into a GFCI.

    What does the city use to thaw pipes ?

    A Salamander will thaw your Pit in 15 Min.

    You should not use anything not rated for use in a wet location.

    That recommendation of using a electric blanket had me laughing my ass off. And a Iron. Reach you should not be giving advice like that. Sorry.


    Good Luck, Be safe.
    Last edited by DonL; 02-06-2014 at 08:57 AM.
    Theory only works perfect in a vacuum.

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  6. #36
    DIY Senior Member Reach4's Avatar
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    I would get started with that heat gun ASAP. I would like to see it blowing toward where the pipe from the street comes in if i had a choice. However if it took a long time to set up a support, I would just set the thing on a brick and let it blow anywhere. Time is a big factor too.

    Once that is going, you can sit back and think up alternatives and supplements.

    With the compressor, if the air supplying the compressor is 9 F, I am wondering how that will help. Plus, you would have to have the meter pulled to feed a tube into the frozen section from the bottom of the pit.

  7. #37
    DIY Senior Member Reach4's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DonL View Post
    You need to think about the extension cord that you are using.

    And make sure you plug into a GFCI.

    What does the city use to thaw pipes ?

    A Salamander will thaw your Pit in 15 Min.

    You should not use anything not rated for use in a wet location.

    That recommendation of using a electric blanket had me laughing my ass off. And a Iron. Reach you should not be giving advice like that.
    I disagree. Anything he can do to put heat down there is going to help. It could be an old tube TV set set on bricks. And of course he will use the GFCI-protected outlet, and will keep his improvised heater-- be it iron, soldering iron, or lightbulb-- dry. Searching out the ideal heater is time wasted.
    Quote Originally Posted by DonL View Post
    Sorry.
    My BS detector just went off.

  8. #38
    DIY Member shadowjfaith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DonL View Post
    What does the city use to thaw pipes ?
    Okay that made me laugh. The city doesn't thaw pipes, they're not required to by law.

    I'll make sure everything is good on the safe side. Water and electricity never mix.

    I'll make a few calls and see if I can rent a Salamander from somewhere as I don't currently own one nor in the position to buy, but how would I position it? Should I put some block or something under the tail end to point it a bit into the pit? I'm not familiar on how the fuel is positioned on those.

  9. #39
    DIY Member shadowjfaith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Reach4 View Post
    Searching out the ideal heater is time wasted.
    I completely agree, but at this point I think it was wasted a long time ago. I haven't had water for 8 days now. It took 7 just for the water company to tell me what and where the problem was so at this point whatever was gonna happen already did.

  10. #40
    Jack of all trades DonL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shadowjfaith View Post
    Okay that made me laugh. The city doesn't thaw pipes, they're not required to by law.

    I'll make sure everything is good on the safe side. Water and electricity never mix.

    I'll make a few calls and see if I can rent a Salamander from somewhere as I don't currently own one nor in the position to buy, but how would I position it? Should I put some block or something under the tail end to point it a bit into the pit? I'm not familiar on how the fuel is positioned on those.

    You may be lucky to find one for rent, but they do rent them. Other people have problems just like yours.

    Once you get the meter pit thawed you can thaw your other frozen pipes.

    You most likely have other places that are frozen also, if you have no insulation. You could use the salamander to thaw them also.

    If you think you can thaw out what Mother Nature took a month to freeze without a bunch of BTUs Then you may be mistaking.


    Good Luck.
    Theory only works perfect in a vacuum.

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  11. #41
    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    Heated water freezes quicker than cold water. So after you dump that heated water in the hole, watch how fast it turns to ice.

    How far away is this pit from an outlet?
    You can't run a cord over to the hole?

  12. #42
    DIY Member shadowjfaith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Terry View Post
    Heated water freezes quicker than cold water. So after you dump that heated water in the hole, watch how fast it turns to ice.
    That is exactly what I thought, even if it didn't turn to ice immediately it would just freeze my pit anyways. The supervisor for Citizens Energy Group was the one who came up with the idea, of course thinking he knew what he was doing I obliged.

    It's a bit of a distance, but I can run to it. I missed 2 days of work over this so far so I was a bit required to come in today and is the reason why there isn't something in the pit right now.

  13. #43
    In the Trades Tom Sawyer's Avatar
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    An awful lot of conversation about a pretty simple job. Putting a lightbulb down there is about as effective as pissing into a hurricane. If the pipe is frozen under ground you will never get enough heat in thehole to thaw it out. I'd bet a salamander won't do it either. The ground will absorb most of the heat within the first 3' and then dissapate the rest.
    [B]No, plumbing ain't rocket science. Unlike rocket science, plumbing requires a license[B]

  14. #44
    Jack of all trades DonL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Sawyer View Post
    An awful lot of conversation about a pretty simple job. Putting a lightbulb down there is about as effective as pissing into a hurricane. If the pipe is frozen under ground you will never get enough heat in thehole to thaw it out. I'd bet a salamander won't do it either. The ground will absorb most of the heat within the first 3' and then dissapate the rest.

    That may be true, but if 100,000 BTU don't get it you are hosed, unless you open the line.
    Theory only works perfect in a vacuum.

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  15. #45
    In the Trades Tom Sawyer's Avatar
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    I have sucessfully thawed hundreds of feet and hundreds of freezups just exactly like the one described with just a compressor and a vacuum. You guys are all over thinking the fix and underestimating the ability of compacted soil to absorb heat.
    [B]No, plumbing ain't rocket science. Unlike rocket science, plumbing requires a license[B]

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