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FROZEN WATER SUPPLY LINE

frozen_pipe
frozen_pipe Member Posts: 7
i have frozen water line somewhere from the water pit to the house, about 400ft long drive way, going through a stream(bridge). Local plumbers are suspecting that under the bridge it could be frozen and has been a week now, all tries have failed. PVC pipe is the material used, there could be two or more 90 degree turn, the pipe is buried at-least 4-5 feet under ground, no visible. Anyone please advise how to resolve the situation., in Connecticut area.

Comments

  • rick in Alaska
    rick in Alaska Member Posts: 1,178
    There is no way easy way I know of to thaw out pvc pipe underground. You would have to have a steam unit where you could inject steam directly in to the ground around the frozen pipe.
    The only other way to possibly do it, would be to cut in to the end of the line and use a small jetter to run water in to the pipe. You will need to get the line to the blockage, so if you hit a 90 on the way, you are not going to get there. At that point, it will have to be dug up, or wait until spring.
    Good luck with it though. Hope you can get it open.
    Rick
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 15,719
    Sorry about that. A real nuisance. I at least know of no good way to solve the problem. Back in the bad old days, one could thaw copper or steel pipe with a welder -- but PVC? Won't work. Nor is there any good way to locate the problem -- although the area near the stream might be shallower, it is just as likely not to be, but to be somewhere where the drifts are a little thinner, or the ground just that little bit moister (or if it is actually under the driveway somewhere, and the drive is well plowed, that's a very likely area, particularly if the drive was salted). Thus digging really isn't an option.

    How big is the pipe? Inside diameter? If it is big enough, you could try snaking a hose down it and recirculate hot water to try and thaw it (not steam -- PVC might be damaged). That won't get beyond any 90s, however.

    I'll think about it some more.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    The pipe isn't frozen in the stream water and under the stream water. There will be no frost under the water. It won't be frozen up under a large snow bank. It will be found on bare ground where the sun never shines. Like shade on the North side of a bank or trees.

    Snow is an insulator. Its what saves seeds and ground burrowing animals from freezing to death. If you have a lot of snow piled up , and a loader, and you know where the service is, pile snow over it as high and wide as you possible can. Especially in shady areas. The heat of the ground will radiate up from the warmer deep ground. It will thaw the pipe with time. How long, you can take numbers. Run a private Lottery. Make some money.

    Cold freezing weather is when you want to have leaking toilet tank flappers to be leaking bye. From now on, and for anyone else, if you notice that your water in the morning is so painful from being cold, that it hurts, leave the cold water running slowly at night. Check your cold water when it gets down into those teenager and infant numbers. If the temperature of the water get down to 35 degrees, watch out. If you run it in the AM and it is below 34 degrees, frost is not far behind. If there is snow all around, and the service crosses a driveway and the driveway is bare, it might be under the driveway.

    In the case of frozen water services, they usually that UP. Not down.

    That's what I have done. "Let old Mother Nature have her way".
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 15,719
    I'm betting on the driveway...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    When looking for a plugged sewer outside, if there is a row of hedges, running perpendicular to the direction you think the sewer line goes, look for the big, tall, bushiest and greenest bush in the hedge. The sewer pipe us under that bush.

    In spite of the bad rap that Nitrogen gets from the tree hugging environmentalists, if you and plants don't use Nitrogen in your daily functions, you aren't if this earth.

    80% of the air we breath is Nitrogen.

    The same applies when looking for buried frozen water pipes. Look for the permanent shade.
  • frozen_pipe
    frozen_pipe Member Posts: 7
    Thank you for everyone reply. The pipe is blue and it is 1.25" OR 1.5" diameter water line. Can I possibly run warm air through the pipe's one end in the basement? have anyone tried that?
  • Abracadabra
    Abracadabra Member Posts: 1,948
    I don't think you are going to be able to get any air flow into the pipe. Since the other side is plugged.. no where for the air to go.
  • frozen_pipe
    frozen_pipe Member Posts: 7
    Also, no water is flowing write now in the stream, all covered with snow.
  • bmwpowere36m3
    bmwpowere36m3 Member Posts: 512
    blue PVC, probably PE pipe... either way it should have been buried under the frost line, but that's neither here nor there. In CT IIRC the minimum is 42" and my city water line was more like 60-72" deep since I dug it up due to the curb box/rod being damaged.

    That's a small pipe and there isn't much you can stick into it. Honestly I think your only option is finding the area that is frozen, digging it up and thawing it... easier said than done. I don't believe flushing it with warm water will work, because the water won't really circulate. Or waiting till spring.
  • rick in Alaska
    rick in Alaska Member Posts: 1,178
    If you have a pie that big, you should easily be able to run a small jetter type cable in it and thaw it out. Cut open the pipe in the basement and feed the jetter in from there. It has worked for me before on a sewer line that was buried shallow. It does take a little time, but just keep pushing on the line as it is thawing and eventually it will break through.
    However, you can not have any 90's before you get to the frozen section, and most importunately, make sure you use NEW hose!. Don't want used sewer cleaning cable in the water line!
    Good luck,
    Rick
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    Before you go to that effort, run a length of electrical fish tape inside and see how far you can go. If you can't get to the obstruction with a 1/4" fish tape, you won't get there with a Jetter.

    Before you consider a Jetter, use a big coil of 3/8" PEX connected to an air compressor. With a large horse plastic water tub to catch the water that will come out of the pipe. The PEX will be far more sterile than a Jetter.

    If the fish tape goes in easily, where it fetches up, is usually where the freeze stoppage is. Because the fish tape is metal, you can locate it with a pipe locater. Call Dig Safe. They are experts at locating things in the ground. Especially if the utilities are underground and the water service was run close by.

    If that's the case, look for the shade, and it will be under the shade.

    Been there, done that.

    Note: If the service is PE, don't try to use hot water. It might damage the pipe. Only warm water. Air works better.

    If you start from the house end, be sure that you have the street end off or can get it off immediately. If you don't, and you ever saw the Disney Cartoon "The Sorcerer's Apprentice", you will be like the Apprentice carrying water buckets.
  • frozen_pipe
    frozen_pipe Member Posts: 7
    Thanks again for all your feedback. I will try fishing the tape and see how far i can go.., As temp, i am running rubber garden hose (bypassed from the main supply at the pit), it runs for a hour and freezes and i roll 400' hose and bring it in for thawing.
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    Use a coil of poly. Just keep the water running slowly at all times. There's more latent heat in water service water than there is in the air to freeze it. Every now and then, let it rip. If the water gets hurting cold, it was freezing. As long as the water is flowing slowly, it can't freeze.

    If it is for you, there's all kinds of things you can do. If for a customer, it gets overwhelming when you give them choices.
  • Weezbo
    Weezbo Member Posts: 6,232
    edited March 2015
    Hmmm... go get a few hundred feet of 1/8 "poly break line and bolt up a hose bib attachment to one end. then , just hook a transfer pump up to a washing machine hose to the hose attachment ,drop another hose off the suction side into a tub of water ,cut open the line and feed it in plug in the pump and the water will cut a hole thru any ice if it hits and obstruction be patient and let it wear away at it for one min if it does not go forward , no problem just push the line thru the fitting and keep on going..
    thats the way to roll.
    or send me a ticket and the menue of the day LOL... sorry , i digress...i had a momentary flash of BBQ Ribs... once you locate the break in the line the water will go away. and not come back out of the open pipe and continue to fill the tub the constant circulation will melt the ice because the water is moving, the size of the tubing is so small it burns a hole thru the ice .the only place the water can go is into the ice and back to the tub. i shoved 300 feet of line from both sides of a 1000 foot loop of 1/2" pex and i think that to be a much greater challenge as there were many many bends and turns in that pipe.1&1/4' should be pretty simple yet likely time consuming.
    Well, Good luck hope that helped.
    Weezbo.
    *~//: )

    Oh. P.S. when you find the leak wrap a piece of coloured tape on the break line lash up that will let you know how far away it is frozen and broken.
    Harvey Ramer
  • jonny88
    jonny88 Member Posts: 1,139
    Rock salt works a charm
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    Who said it was leaking?

    Most water services today are rolled Poly Pipe. If it is over 1 1/2" ID, It might be gasketed PP. PVC-SDR will shatter in the cold.

    You could buy a 1,000' roll of 3/8" Pex, adapt one end to a boiler drain and a washing machine hose, and stuff it up the pipe.

    At least then, you'd know where the obstruction is. In the shade. A lot easier than digging through the frost. Every disaster job is different.

    If no one is living in the apartment, leave if off until the ground thaws. An a few weeks. If you leave a faucet open in the apartment, leave if open very low. Too high and the volume might overwhelm the sink drain causing an overflow and a flood. A very bad thing.

    Make sure that you keep checking the main house. Don't let that freeze up too.
  • frozen_pipe
    frozen_pipe Member Posts: 7
    Weezbo said:

    Hmmm... go get a few hundred feet of 1/8 "poly break line and bolt up a hose bib attachment to one end. then , just hook a transfer pump up to a washing machine hose to the hose attachment ,drop another hose off the suction side into a tub of water ,cut open the line and feed it in plug in the pump and the water will cut a hole thru any ice if it hits and obstruction be patient and let it wear away at it for one min if it does not go forward , no problem just push the line thru the fitting and keep on going..
    thats the way to roll.
    or send me a ticket and the menue of the day LOL... sorry , i digress...i had a momentary flash of BBQ Ribs... once you locate the break in the line the water will go away. and not come back out of the open pipe and continue to fill the tub the constant circulation will melt the ice because the water is moving, the size of the tubing is so small it burns a hole thru the ice .the only place the water can go is into the ice and back to the tub. i shoved 300 feet of line from both sides of a 1000 foot loop of 1/2" pex and i think that to be a much greater challenge as there were many many bends and turns in that pipe.1&1/4' should be pretty simple yet likely time consuming.
    Well, Good luck hope that helped.
    Weezbo.
    *~//: )

    Oh. P.S. when you find the leak wrap a piece of coloured tape on the break line lash up that will let you know how far away it is frozen and broken.

    what is 1/8 "poly break line?
  • frozen_pipe
    frozen_pipe Member Posts: 7
    I can connect to hot water tank drain inside the basement to waterline, not sure how to take out the water going in to the pipe for recycling.
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    Experience.
  • jumper
    jumper Member Posts: 1,612
    Concentrated antifreeze will melt it. Along with the hot air to move it.
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    jumper said:

    Concentrated antifreeze will melt it. Along with the hot air to move it.

    Concentrated Anti-Freeze will not melt it unless it is hot. And regular water will thaw it just as effectively.

  • jumper
    jumper Member Posts: 1,612
    Why not? The big problem I see is getting the anti-freeze to the blockage. If you can,anti-freeze lowers the freezing temperature and produces heat when it combines with water.
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    jumper said:

    Why not? The big problem I see is getting the anti-freeze to the blockage. If you can,anti-freeze lowers the freezing temperature and produces heat when it combines with water.

    If the water is already frozen, adding antiFreeze to the mix won't speed up the thawing.

  • frozen_pipe
    frozen_pipe Member Posts: 7
    Hi All, I have successfully got the water back., the procedure which i tried was, * got a 300' Pex 1/2 inch and attached a jet on one end and garden house adaptor on the other. * * Connected the garden hose side to hot water tap * * Changed the hot water tank temperature to 160 degree * For drain, took a oil pan and connected a hose adapter and dropped the hose to sump pump * * Inserted the PEX in to the main water line 150' went inside and hit the ice, now i have turned on the hot water to flow * * Every 5 minute about 6" was thawed and kept pushing, when reach 40' went in ice and unblocked in an hour, i stopped received water in the drain and it started flowing to the pit side. * * connected the line back and everything is fine., to avoid freezing again, let a drain in to sump for water to trickle. also added a provision to run pex again if needed in the future. Thank you everyone's help and advise.
    RobG
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