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Got a call on Friday from tenant complaining of no water at all on my rental property. Have had some partial freezing in a cold spot of the house before, but I have never lost all water like this.

Did some troubleshooting, and opened a spigot by the meter, right where the main comes in to the basement. After a gallon or two dribbled out, the water stopped. The bottom line is that the freeze appears to be outside of the house.

The town claims that they are obligated to deliver water to my valve at the main (out under the sidewalk, maybe 8 feet from the entry point thru the basement wall) and that from the valve at the main in is all my responsibility. Not sure what my chances are of a rupture out under the sidewalk, and whether the town does in fact have no responsibility for the pipe from the valve to my house.

Got 2 days of moderating tempos (30 today, maybe 42 tomorrow), followed by more freeze next week. Do not know if this is enough to thaw the frozen main, or whether the outside lines are damaged.

I am really getting tired of winter..
 

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Heat the pipe where it comes into the house (light bulb, hair dryer, space heater) It should thaw eventually. When it does let water drip at one of the faucets to prevent a refreeze. Usually the galvanized steal water pipes they use to run from the main to the house are stout enough to handle freezing unless it's old and weakened from corrosion which will be most likely to happen at a leaky joint. Happened to me once. The pipe blew out right in front of the main shutoff valve in the crawl space under the house. Had to wait a couple hours for the city to show up and shut off the water. The valve and pipe were set inside a clay flue pipe, impossible to get a wrench into. I bought a couple cheap Chinese special wrenches and cut the handles short enough to fit. Doing it all while laying in ice, mud and combinations in between was no fun, but at least I didn't have to do any digging :D
 

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that's a real sucker punch with theese temps and more snow on the way.
mine ruptured a few years ago from old age. was told the same thing by my town. anything after the main valve which is at the curb was my responsability. hopefully yours will thaw out before it burst.
 

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I have a problem with the water to my house freezing. It's happened twice since I bought the house in 1995. Both times it froze under the road to my house so the town covered all the costs. They had to dig down to the pipe and put a big welder onto it at different places. Both times we went two days without water. I think I would rather go without electricity. Now, in the fall they put a small tube called a bleeder on my outside faucet, it runs all winter, and they pro-rate the water bill. Running water will not freeze.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
House buit about 1906. May not be the original main. Pipe looks like about 3/4"to 1" diameter, inside a larger (1.5"to 2" dia) pipe. Doubt it is copper, but brownish color to it (is brass possible?). Will assume for now it is steel or iron.

House main is about a 12 ft run from the valve at the street main, about 3' below grade. Got a 1500 watt space heater turned on the pipe where it comes thru the foundation. Also left one of the faucets open, so no opposing force to the pressure from the main, in case the 'plug' is small and ready to release.

Not sure if the heat will dissipate, or work thru the 12' pipe run, but not costing much to try. If I don't get any result in 12-24 hrs, may reach out to a plumber to see what they would charge to run some current thru the pipe to heat it up. Assuming that is something like an arc welding rig that they would connect with one end of the circuit at the valve, and the other end in the basement.
 

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sounds like a good game plan. good luck. if those pipes bust it's a major pain.
never heard off running a charge thru the pipes to melt ice.
 

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Running water will not freeze.
Have you looked at Niagara Falls recently?:p

Soon it will look like 1936 all over.
o-NIAGARA-FALLS-FROZEN-900.jpg

Niagara Falls taken over by freezing weather during the winter of 1936. The temperatures were exceptional cold, enough to stop the torrential falls seen near Lewiston, N.Y. The pressure of the ice demolished some nearby cabins. (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)

Would you agree that Niagara Falls water runs?
 

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running water will definitly freeze but will take a little longer. i guess vermont condidered the cost of running water to slow down the process vs the cost of digging up the street every 5 years.
i'm pretty sure if the problem was on the homeowners side they would not do anything
 

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For the Niagara to freeze like this, it does so by the bottom up which is not the case here when running water constantly, it will not tend to freeze as much. Water works utilities recommend doing this all the time until spring.
 

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never heard off running a charge thru the pipes to melt ice.
That's why the Lincoln AC225 arc welder has a circle around the 75 amp mark of it's dial. Some of the older users manuals you can find online have instructions for thawing water pipes using that setting. They took that part of the instructions out at some point, for liability issues I guess. But they left the circle out the 75 amp setting.
 

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i believe it. just never heard of it and i worked for a dealer that sent us to appleton wisconsin to get certified for warranty repairs on lincolns.
for miller machines went somewhere in jersey around philly.
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
Water restored

Left the 1500w space heater going on the main where it comes into the basement, and had a faucet open upstairs. Left it to 'cook' for awhile (frankly, not expecting much), but was very pleased when I came back a few hours later and found the water running.

No sign off leakage where the main comes in thru the basement wall, so I am assuming the main line in survived without any serious damage. Assuming the freeze was in one spot, close to the house. Even though it was frozen, it may not have been too far below 32f, since it thawed so easily.

Yet another new(ish) homeowner learning experience. Thanks to all for your input and suggestions.
 

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Yeah, i had a similar issue with my tenant. They left a hose attached to the outside spigot.....

Then 12 hrs later, they call and say theres no flow to the commode. This time it was under the crawl space, that they had blocked up with moving boxes. Fortunately the line was intact, and space heater resolved it. But the boxes went away.
 

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For the Niagara to freeze like this, it does so by the bottom up which is not the case here when running water constantly, it will not tend to freeze as much. Water works utilities recommend doing this all the time until spring.
I guess you have visited the Falls?

You have to admit for them to freeze, from the bottom up or the top down, IT HAS TO BE COLD! :D

The volume of water approaching the falls during peak flow season may sometimes be as much as 225,000 cubic feet (6,400 m3) per second.
In the winter 50,000 cubic feet (1,400 m) per second goes over.
In the summer it is up to 100,000 cubic feet (2,800 m3) per second.
The average annual flow rate is 85,000 cubic feet (2,400 m3) per second.

But even though only a mere 50,000 cubic feet PER SECOND falls in the winter. You have to admit that is a heck of a lot of water falling to freeze.

An interesting fact,
The current rate of erosion is approximately 1 foot per year, down from a historical average of 3 feet per year.
It is estimated that 50,000 years from now, even at this reduced rate of erosion, the remaining 20 miles to Lake Erie will have been undermined and the falls will cease to exist.

Hurry all, if you never saw the Falls go see it before it is gone.:p

But you would never think that Niagara falls could freeze.

They recommend the you run your furthest faucet at a trickle to keep your system from freezing.
Also a lot are keeping their thermostats turned down to save on heating bills.
A lot will turn them down to 65 or even lower when they go to work.
You're better off keeping it at 70 to 75. What you spend in heating bills might save you a whole lot from cleaning up and repairing water damage.
Around me, water lines are the homeowners responsibility from the street to the house. Around me you can get coverage for around 5 or 6 bucks a month. It covers the lines from the street to the house.
If you have a old water line check into this insurance if you want. Depending on your yard in can get quite expensive to repair a line.
I am glad that I have a basement instead of a crawl space.
I installed shutoff valves on my outside faucets and make sure I turn them off in the winter.
And as mentioned the Falls freeze from the bottom up if you leave an outside faucet on as a trickle and it is cold enough it very well can freeze from the bottom up if you don't keep on breaking up the water freezing on the bottom.;)

For inside water lines they sell a safety automatic shutdown valve that you hookup to your house water line.
There are a bunch this is the first one I came across, Watercop automatic water shut-off system
Added peace of mind if you are going to be a way for a while or even if your just away at work.
 

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That's why the Lincoln AC225 arc welder has a circle around the 75 amp mark of it's dial. Some of the older users manuals you can find online have instructions for thawing water pipes using that setting. They took that part of the instructions out at some point, for liability issues I guess. But they left the circle out the 75 amp setting.

They just did that for a pipe feeding a dead end road around here. They have done it before as there is a section of pipe that is running over some ledge they did not want to remove. So for a small section it is near the frost line.

If there are plastic sections it will not work. More and more new pipe being used is plastic.
 

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Up here, in the Great White North, we bury our underground water and sewer lines 8 to 10 feet below grade to keep them from freezing. A shame to have to leave a tap running. The water bill will be a killer.
 
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