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Unidentified pipe

malex Member Posts: 106
This may be unrelated to heating but maybe not. I have a unidentified pipe sticking out of the basement concrete floor of my 1939 colonial. The pipe seem to be galvanised ~1 inch steel an sticks up about 10 inches. At the top there is an elbow and a 2 inch nipple with a nut at the end so it was connected to something at some point. Its in the boiler room but not by the boiler. Its about 4 feet from the oil tank. There is a electric on/off switch on the wall just above it and the wire has been cut so whatever was connected may have been electric.

Any idea what this pipe is for and if it can/should be removed?


  • LarryC
    LarryC Member Posts: 331
    City water ?

    If your area has a municipal water supply, it could be an old water supply line.  Or if municipal water got installed after the floor was poured, it could be a connection to an old well system.

    Is this pipe on the side of the house farthest from the street ?  That would be a clue leading to a non municipal service.  Going thru the floor would probably indicate it did not go to an outbuilding.  Are there any indications that there is a water cistern anywhere on the property ?

    Where in the US is this property located ?
  • Tim McElwain
    Tim McElwain Member Posts: 4,480
    Do you have natural gas

    in the house? That sounds like an old gas line that came into the house from outside to an inside meter set at one time.
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    Unknown Pipe:

    Any photos of this pipe and what is around it?
  • malex
    malex Member Posts: 106
    May be old supply

    Thanks for the replies. There is municipal water coming in through the basement wall not far from the pipe. The pipe is on the on the front side of the house towards the street.

    This is in the incorporated village of Freeport on Long Island, which has its own water company. As you point out, this pipe may be from a previous water service? Not sure what the history of the Freeport water distribution is, but they just tore down the old Brooklyn water works in Freeport, which was a famous building from the late 1800's.

    In the picture you see the pipe, the cut electric service. The water service on the wall and above the existing gas service. To the right is the oil tank. On the wall is also steam return.
  • malex
    malex Member Posts: 106

    The floor drain in the basement has been filled with sand. Not sure if the pipe is connected to that?
  • Pipe

    I think Tim is correct.  Since it's so close to the gas meter, it seems likely that it's the old gas distribution line to the building, abandoned after it started to leak.  In the old days, you were allowed to run gas under a slab, but not anymore.
    Often wrong, never in doubt.
  • Paul Fredricks_3
    Paul Fredricks_3 Member Posts: 1,552

    Could it have been an electrical conduit?
  • Long Beach Ed
    Long Beach Ed Member Posts: 702

    My bet is that it was a gas line. 

    Either that or water supply, but it looks like many of the old gas service lines we see around here. 
  • malex
    malex Member Posts: 106
    Compression connection

    The pipe has the same type of compression connection that a steam radiator has. I thought a gas line would have threaded connections sealed with pipe dope. It's also pretty corroded inside the pipe as far as you can see. And what would the electric switch have been used for? Also, the burned is fueled by oil so only the stowe and water heater is gas fueled. I believe the previous owners had gas pulled to the house when they installed a gourmet range and the water heater is from the same time (circa 98). Most houses in this area of the same age don't have gas unless they converted in the past ~50 years. To have the gas service come through the floor it seems gas would be original to the house, which I'm pretty sure it is not.

    Thanks for the guesses.
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    Unidentified pipe:

    If I saw that pipe sticking out of the floor where I work, I'd have thought it was a well pipe. For a reciprocating shallow well water pump like a 1909 meyers pump
  • Long Beach Ed
    Long Beach Ed Member Posts: 702

    If the properties didn't originally have gas service, then it's the old water service.  
  • malex
    malex Member Posts: 106
    As long as

    As long as there is no buried tank or anything hazardous about this pipe I guess I can sleep good. SInce it is not capped I am assuming that water or gas it is disconnected at the source.
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265

    I didn't finish what I was saying because they called my flight.

    After reading the posts again, it is a shallow well. It's 1 1/4" galvanized pipe with a 1 1/4" X 1" Reducing 90 with the remains if a 1" union. The inside of the pipe is (whatever) as far as could be seen. Rust, iron build up from the iron in the ground water. The switch on the wall that is cut off and disconnected was the power to the pump.

    When was the house built and was it in that area alone before water mains were laid in the area?  How far above sea level is this building?

    The Island of Long and Cape Cod have something in common. They figured out way back when that if you ran municipal water, you could have smaller house lots. You didn't need big well and septic system separation. When was the house built? Reciprocating water pumps had a 1" inlet. They pumped 400 gallons per hour regardless of the lift. 5' Lift, 400 GPH. 25' lift, 400 GPH. They just knocked a lot louder when lifting at over 25;.

    Put a ground clamp on the pipe and run another service ground/earth neutral from the well to the panel. My last house was hit by lightning, twice in six weeks before I had a lightning suppression system installed. The only thing that saved the house was my 2" galvanized water well pipe under the cellar-way stairs. After the strikes, the water would run red for 15 or 20 minutes.
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265

    If it is what I think it is (an abandoned water well), unscrew the ell and look down the pipe. If it goes straight down, it's a well.

    Today, it must be filled/plugged and capped. It should be filled and sealed with grout if it is a well.

    In Massachusetts, any water well that is taken out of service and abandoned, must be sealed and location reported.
  • malex
    malex Member Posts: 106
    Spot on

    Ice, I think you nailed it. Long Island is essentially just a sand bank and the municipal water is drawn from aquifers (layers of water in the sand). Back in '39 when the house was built the aquifers were probably shallow enough to tap into from each house. As 3 million households have been washing dishes and making sure the lawns stay green all summer long the shallow aquifers have probably been tapped out and deeper drilling was required. I will try to find out what New York code is for capping it off.

    Thanks for figuring this out.
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    Wells & Aquafiers:

    There's another misconception along with circulator pumps and their effect on system pressure.

    The aquifer or the level above the ground in a specific place on the earth does not change unless sea water levels rise. And they haven't risen much in 70+ years. 

    The only thing that changes is the depth to salt water below the fresh. Because fresh water is 40 times lighter than sea water ( it may be 36 times, I can never remember which), the fresh water floats on top of the salt water. If the depth to fresh water in Omaha, Nebraska is 12', then the thickness of the "lens" of fresh water will be 480'. But in Freeport, on the Isle of Long, where there will be a tidal influence, it will be 520'. +/-.  If you look at the water level in the pond down the street, that is the level of the ground water aquifer. The Isle of Long has a sole source Aquifer. You may be able to go up to Montauk Cliffs and drill a well down 30' and get water when the spot you are on is 400' up. But you are dealing with "Perched Water" that is trapped by a layer of impervious soil. It will go away in a dry summer and come back in the winter if wet.

    The running of municipal water had more to do with selling something that the public needed at a profit. And that everyone was drinking the swill from their neighbors cesspools.    
  • Jean-David Beyer
    Jean-David Beyer Member Posts: 2,666
    Way off, but you have the right idea.

    At 4C (where it is densest) pure water has a density of 62.4 lb/cu.ft.  Sea water is about 64 pounds per cubic foot. If I lived on the Isle of Long, I would sell and move out. As they pump more and more fresh water out, sea water will come in to take its place.

    As Brookhaven National Lab leaks more and more radioactivity into the water table, ... .

    As dry cleaning shops leak more and more chlorinated hydrocarbons into the water table, ... .

    I lived in a small town in New Jersey a while ago. They had something like 13 municipal wells to provide water to the town. They had to close about 8 of them because they were contaminated with chlorinated hydrocarbons. There is no practical way to decontaminate the water table. Maybe in 1000 years they will disappear. Maybe they won't. National Lead had a big factory there, too. They closed down and moved out rather than clean up their act.
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    Fresh Water:


    The tidal influence on the thickness of the lens is in an article from the USGS that did extensive ground water testing all over the country.

    It has more to do with the density of the water rather than the weight.
  • SWEI
    SWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    Ghyben-Herzberg Model

    Wow, that was really clear.  Thanks!
  • Big Ed_4
    Big Ed_4 Member Posts: 1,775
    Old Water Well

    Been working Long Island for 40 years and seen many of them old well taps , Some areas with higher water prices start them up again to water their lawns ...
    I have enough experience to know , that I dont know it all
This discussion has been closed.