Main Water Supply Line freeze protection

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I own a property (a house) that is vacant and mostly gutted at this point, and it is essentially a shell on the upper floors. But, just recently, thieves broke into the ground-level basement and stole all of the copper plumbing.
The house has hot water cast iron radiator heat, and what they took was all of the large copper heating pipes and the regular copper water pipes from the basement, and the small amount of 1/2-inch copper water pipe that was left on the empty first floor. All of the remaining pipes are the old threaded iron pipes and they left them as-is.
At this point, since winter is approaching, my plan is to just drain all of the water from all lines, the hot water heater and boiler, the cast iron radiators etc., and "winterize" the property so that nothing breaks during sub-freezing temperatures. The house does have electricity, but the water will be completely shut off at the curb.
My question is about the small piece of pipe for the main water supply line that will be left and that comes into the basement from the outside through the basement floor. Here are two photos of what is there now:
http://i46.tinypic.com/207ugr7.jpg
http://i48.tinypic.com/2qkm2bp.jpg
The thieves shut off the main water valve, disconnected the copper from the water meter, and took all of the copper from that point forward. The main water valve is old and doesn't completely shut off, so a lot of water came in, but it's an unfinished basement with a floor drain so not much got water damaged.
After the theft, I took off the water meter and capped the main water line for now. My plan is to shut off the main water valve at the street, install a new 3/4-inch shut-off ball valve with a stop-and-waste port, and put the water meter back on.
My concern is about the small amount of pipe and the water meter that will be on the inside of the property during the winter with no heat in the building.
Here's my question:
If I put a stop-and-waste ball valve in the vertical water supply line a few inches above the floor, then put the water meter back on, keep the water turned off at the street, and open the drain port on the valve and leave the valve open, will that keep the supply line and water meter from freezing and cracking during the winter?
As a backup precaution, I also will either wrap the pipe with a plugged-in pipe heater line and/or create some other kind of heat source for that short piece of pipe such as by using an incandescent lightbulb (maybe inside a small insulated box/space covering the pipe).
Does that plan sound okay? Any other ideas or suggestions that I should consider?
Thanks.
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I own a property (a house) that is vacant and mostly gutted at this point, and it is essentially a shell on the upper floors. But, just recently, thieves broke into the ground-level basement and stole all of the copper plumbing.
The house has hot water cast iron radiator heat, and what they took was all of the large copper heating pipes and the regular copper water pipes from the basement, and the small amount of 1/2-inch copper water pipe that was left on the empty first floor. All of the remaining pipes are the old threaded iron pipes and they left them as-is.
At this point, since winter is approaching, my plan is to just drain all of the water from all lines, the hot water heater and boiler, the cast iron radiators etc., and "winterize" the property so that nothing breaks during sub-freezing temperatures. The house does have electricity, but the water will be completely shut off at the curb.
My question is about the small piece of pipe for the main water supply line that will be left and that comes into the basement from the outside through the basement floor. Here are two photos of what is there now:
http://i46.tinypic.com/207ugr7.jpg
http://i48.tinypic.com/2qkm2bp.jpg
The thieves shut off the main water valve, disconnected the copper from the water meter, and took all of the copper from that point forward. The main water valve is old and doesn't completely shut off, so a lot of water came in, but it's an unfinished basement with a floor drain so not much got water damaged.
After the theft, I took off the water meter and capped the main water line for now. My plan is to shut off the main water valve at the street, install a new 3/4-inch shut-off ball valve with a stop-and-waste port, and put the water meter back on.
My concern is about the small amount of pipe and the water meter that will be on the inside of the property during the winter with no heat in the building.
Here's my question:
If I put a stop-and-waste ball valve in the vertical water supply line a few inches above the floor, then put the water meter back on, keep the water turned off at the street, and open the drain port on the valve and leave the valve open, will that keep the supply line and water meter from freezing and cracking during the winter?
As a backup precaution, I also will either wrap the pipe with a plugged-in pipe heater line and/or create some other kind of heat source for that short piece of pipe such as by using an incandescent lightbulb (maybe inside a small insulated box/space covering the pipe).
Does that plan sound okay? Any other ideas or suggestions that I should consider?
Thanks.
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TomR wrote:

What's the incoming pipe made of, the bit coming out of the floor?
Reason - lead is the most sensitive for freezing damage. Copper and iron would generally be strong enough to cope with a bit of ice if the tap is open and the street side is shut off. Plastic usually has enough "give" to cope.

You can get heat trace tape that's made exactly for this job that you wrap around the pipe and then lag with some insulation. Very low power, bit like soil heating cable.
Here the English version in 230V, you should be able to get something similar:
http://www.tlc - direct.co.uk/Main_Index/Cable_Accessories_Index/Heat_Tape/index.html
(watch the wrap)

The lamp idea might work, but there's a real risk the lamp will blow leaving you back at square 1.
--
Tim Watts Personal Blog: http://www.dionic.net/tim /

"History will be kind to me for I intend to write it."
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Tim Watts wrote:

Thanks. The incoming water supply line is 3/4-inch copper.

That's the term that I couldn't remember -- heat tape or heat trace tape.
I think I'll probably be doing that as a minimum, and maybe the light bulb idea in addition.
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I'd have a look at Frostex heat tape. Self regulating, low wattage.
http://www.deanbennett.com/wintergard-heat-tape-prices.htm
My condolence on the loss of your copper. Hope the thieves try to steal a transformer, some day, and die a terrible death.
Christopher A. Young Learn more about Jesus www.lds.org .

That's the term that I couldn't remember -- heat tape or heat trace tape.
I think I'll probably be doing that as a minimum, and maybe the light bulb idea in addition.
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On Dec 3, 6:05pm, "Stormin Mormon"

Another factor not mentioned is where it's located. Around here, NJ, in a basement it would not get cold enough to freeze a pipe like that unless you left the basement windows open or it was somehow otherwise exposed to the outside. And putting a couple old coats over that pipe would help a lot too. The ground temp that deep is around 50F all year long. If it was here, that's all I'd do.
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The one time I had a pipe freeze in a cellar, it was about 0F temp, or maybe plus a few degrees. The wind was blowing, and the pipe that froze was next to a window that didn't shut properly.
I'm guessing you are right, that a properly closed cellar should stay above freezing.
Christopher A. Young Learn more about Jesus www.lds.org .
Another factor not mentioned is where it's located. Around here, NJ, in a basement it would not get cold enough to freeze a pipe like that unless you left the basement windows open or it was somehow otherwise exposed to the outside. And putting a couple old coats over that pipe would help a lot too. The ground temp that deep is around 50F all year long. If it was here, that's all I'd do.
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snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

Very interesting. I had not thought about that. The property is in Southern New Jersey, in the Camden - Cherry Hill area. The basement floor is about 5 feet below the ground level outside. So, that makes sense -- the water supply line coming in is already below the frost line. If it wasn't, it would freeze during the winter. I could definitely build a box around the pipe that seals it off from the basement but is open to the front exterior wall and the floor, and then cover and/or insulate the box. The ambient heat from the wall and floor (since they are below the frost line) should be more than enough to keep the pipe from freezing.
And, being just a tad neurotic, I'll probably still do the heat tape idea "just in case", even though it probably isn't necessary.
Again, I completely forgot about the outside ground temp at that depth. Thanks.
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All I can tell you is that when I was a kid living in NJ, our house had a well with a driven casing. Back then, those wells were typically driven so the well head was below the frost line, like 4 ft and then covered up. My dad thought it was a good idea to keep access, so he built a cement block compartment with a steel cover for it. The thing was about 4 x 4 and 4 feet deep. It froze once, when it was close to zero out. After that, he threw a few old coats over the well head/pipe at the bottom and it never froze again in 25 years.
If that's what it takes to freeze something like that which is only 4 feet or so deep, I think it's impossible to freeze something at basement floor level in NJ. Unless you have windows open or other issues that allow a lot of outside cold air in. Another factor on your side is that pipe is buried in ground that is 50F and that heat is being conducted into it.
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Tom,
If I follow you, you have a vacant house that you are renovating. Recently thieves stole all of the copper piping. You have an unfinished basement and have turned off the water at the main valve located in this basement. You plan to use an electric heat source to supply some heat to your cut off valve and water meter. I'd not rely on electric solutions. Those wires are copper and the world is full of thieves. It sounds as if the cutoff valve is a new install and the water is shut off at the curb so leave the cutoff valve open . Take the water meter home and stick it in a heated space.
Dave M.
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Oren,
I presume that the service line is below the freeze depth and will not freeze. The water is cut off at the curb. The OP seems concerned about his connector to the service line, his basement cut off valve and his basement water meter, if I've understood him correctly. How do you think that water from the service line will get to the street?
Dave M.
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That looks like a gate valve on that line.
If it were me, I would use a wet/dry vaccuum cleaner and a length of vinyl tubing to suck the water out of that line to the depth of the frost line. If you don't have electricity in that house, you can always just use lung power and spit the water out into a bucket.
Then pour in some plumbing antifreeze to prevent any remaining water in the pipe from freezing.
As long as you remove the water above the frost line, you should be good. the water in any piping below the frost line won't freeze anyhow.
--
nestork


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David L. Martel wrote:

I have the water meter off now, but my plan is to put it back on. I think it has an external reading setup so they can read it from the outside. I'll have to double-check that and how it works. I don't want them to think I have no water service (even if I have it shut off at the curb) so that I don't have to go through anything to get the water service back on.
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If one end is open-, is this doeable---- get as much water out of the open pipe as possible. Then put RV anti freeze into the lines. MLD
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I do like the RV antifreeze idea. I question, how far you can get the pink stuff, into a water line coming into a house.
Christopher A. Young Learn more about Jesus www.lds.org .
If one end is open-, is this doeable---- get as much water out of the open pipe as possible. Then put RV anti freeze into the lines. MLD
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MLD wrote:

Good idea. I'll probably do that too as an additional precaution. It would be easy to do and the cost is minimal.
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As a follow up to my comment about using RV Anti freeze. My house is vacant for the month of Feb each year as I head for sunny Florida. I shut the ball valve at the water entry point, open lower level faucets and drain as much water as I can. Also flush all toilets. At this point I put about a quart of RV anti freeze in all the drains/traps--sinks, toilet tank and bowl, bath tub, shower, dish washer, washing machine etc. Maybe this is over kill but some of the lines are buried either within the walls or under a cement floor and it isn't worth taking any chances. Payoff is that I've never has a problem. MLD
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My friend Ed, his adult son was out of town, and the power co turned off the electric. Deep freeze weather, no less. Burners on the stove barely took the chill off. We did the drain, pink stuff, etc, routine. Close the water main coming in, open all the faucets including the cellar laundry sink. The only pipe damaged, was the water lead to the toilet. He'd closed the shut off valve, and some water remained in the vertical line.
The neighbors would not let him run a cord for the furnace. I suggested a generator, but he thought that was too much work.
Christopher A. Young Learn more about Jesus www.lds.org .
As a follow up to my comment about using RV Anti freeze. My house is vacant for the month of Feb each year as I head for sunny Florida. I shut the ball valve at the water entry point, open lower level faucets and drain as much water as I can. Also flush all toilets.
At this point I put about a quart of RV anti freeze in all the drains/traps--sinks, toilet tank and bowl, bath tub, shower, dish washer, washing machine etc. Maybe this is over kill but some of the lines are buried either within the walls or under a cement floor and it isn't worth taking any chances. Payoff is that I've never has a problem. MLD
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Stormin Mormon wrote:

What a bunch of tightarses...
--
Tim Watts Personal Blog: http://www.dionic.net/tim /

"She got her looks from her father. He's a plastic surgeon."
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You got that right!
Christopher A. Young Learn more about Jesus www.lds.org .
Stormin Mormon wrote:

What a bunch of tightarses...
--
Tim Watts Personal Blog: http://www.dionic.net/tim /

"She got her looks from her father. He's a plastic surgeon."
  Click to see the full signature.
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