Pretty much the entire easement in front of my house is a drainage
ditch (no storm sewers on my street, a couple of miles outside of
Ann Arbor, Michigan). Currently, it's under a 2-3 of feet
of snow: not only the snow that has fallen in the last 6 weeks,
but the snow that was flung there by the snowplows.. The water main
shutoff is belowground at the property line; they use a long rod to
turn the valve.
If the meter were in the easement, it would be more than 4 feet underground;
that's where the frost line is. My water service comes in about 6 feet
below grade; that's pretty typical.
Here in the snowy country, most people have their water meter in the
basement. A retrofitted transmitter is pretty common, allowing the
readings to be taken by a truck driving down the street. Before the
transmitter, we would get a postcard every month from the utility.
We'd mark the position of the indicators on the meter and send it back.
Every year or so they'd send someone into the house to verify that we
weren't lying about our meter readings.
Here, water meters were always inside. They still have some walk up,
outside inductive read points. My current house was converted to radio
transmission. Truck just goes down the street. They were trying that with
some electric meters, but I think there were problems. A small outside
water leak could suck up water companies water without payment. That would
Mine wasn't. It was under the house. The contractor I had who replaced the
broken pipe to the mainline after the repair two years ago didn't hold, put
a new one in for me near the front door. He said there was no way I would
have ever found it. And there is no way I am going under that house!
On Saturday, February 8, 2014 11:28:33 PM UTC-5, Gz wrote:
I'm all for troubleshooting a reasonable amount before calling
a utility company, but the water has been off for a
week and it sounds like you've done a lot more than most people
would do before calling the water company. They have gear and lots
of experience in this kind of thing. Plus you're apparently
saying this coincided with a new cut/patch in the asphalt with
a blue mark across the street.
The patch is visible. I have no idea when that was done, or why. Th house
was also vacant for two years. The blue and yellow marks were first done
when th gas line was replaced. The second time when I had the garage shed
torn down. Today we found the gas and water points with metal detector.
About 3 gallons of warm saltwater, and a lot of picking around the frozen
gravel. The points were flush until contractor tore garage down and added
We agree again. When my faucets produced nothing but whistling air last
week at 1AM, I checked the shut off valve (no sound difference between open
and closed) and then opened the outside hose bib slightly to see if I could
hear something. No sound. Then I called the water company at 1:30AM and
after talking to the billing answering system for a while, rechecked the
number and called the emergency service number and the guy who answered said
there was a water main break on my street and they were already on it.
I think that's were GregZ should be at right now - calling the water people.
FWIW, it was fixed by 6AM and almost none of my neighbors knew it had been
off - except for the requisite "spitting up" that occurs when water service
is restored. Apparently the break drained all the water in all the
connected house lines.
On a positive note, it encouraged me to set up my old darkroom 5 gal tanks
to store some emergency water. When I first moved in and the plumbing
needed constant repair/replacing I had them set up on a stand over the
toilet fill tank to provide at least four flushes with the water turned off.
One good thing about low-volume toilets is that if you have to flush them
with stored water, a 100 oz empty laundry detergent bottle provides the
necessary volume and flow rate (with the pour spout removed) to get a good
Water company came. The outside valve is not frozen shut. I guess they are
going to TEAR up the street. Circles and arrows drawn. I can't believe it's
going to be digging time in this weather. 5 degrees tonight.
The street is a fairly low point in my terrain. There is a stream, wash, 15
feet lower, about 50 feet away. It's not the ideal layout.
They recently replaced the gas main on my street. They started in October
and by the time they were finished there was snow on the ground. When they
packed up their equipment, I figured they were done for the season. I was
They moved their stuff a few blocks away and have continued working through
all of the snow, ice, and sub-zero temperatures we've had this year.
It must suck when the first thing you need to do is deal with the pile of
snow that the plow put next to your equipment, assuming the plow even got
there before you started.
Sounds to me like it froze the supply...or, I once't had a house where
the contractor buried the pressure reducing valve inline about 5-ft from
the meter and it failed shut. That was a real joy as he couldn't
remember having done so so didn't even know which end of the feedline it
was located but "sorta' thought" they'd put one in, somewhere...
That was in spring a day after brought home the new baby in a period of
nearly a week of solid rain. Great fun to dig in soaked red E TN
clay--not. At least it was 40F+, not -10F.
There won't be water running inside while the pipes are still frozen.
The ice in the pipe is sealing the crack, if there is one.
When the outside temps start rising above freezing, The ice in the pipe
will melt and unseal the crack. That's when the water will pour into the
house. Years ago, there was a similar situation when there was a long
spell of below freezing weather (I don't think it was as long as the
current spell) pipes in numerous houses belonging to 'snowbirds' (people
who spend the winters in Florida) froze because no one was home to see
that there was no water running which would indicate a frozen pipe.
When the warmer weather replaced the freezing weather, the ice in the
pipes melted and the water flowed out of the pipes. Neighbors noticed
water running out of the houses from under the garage doors and burst
Sounds expensive, to me. I help take care of a couple
trailers, for the church. Have to blow out the lines,
and then pump pink stuff through, to chase any traces
of water. Drain the small water heater.
I remember that. If you own a second home, it really pays to have some kind
of alarm/monitoring system for such events. These days with smartphones you
can get all sorts of remote monitoring setups, from
water/smoke/fire/intrusion detection to video monitoring. If I had a second
home I would make sure I could remotely answer the door/video cam. I've
learned through bad experience that burglars often ring the bell to make
sure no one's home before they break in.
If I were young enough to start a new business, I'd been selling "remote
video doorbell/intercom" packages to homeowners with smartphones. I don't
think a burglar would know if he was talking to someone actually inside the
house or 1,000 miles away and I doubt they would break into a house they
thought was occupied. I'll bet you wouldn't even need a high speed
connection, just a dial up line.
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