main water line frozen?

I live in the NE and with the unusual deep freeze this year, I've been having a heck of a time keeping the water flowing. The first culprit was some frozen lines that run into the kitchen and the area where freezing occurs is toward the edge of the house. A small electric space heater aimed at the area seems to get them dethawed within 24 hours. The second time was apparently frozen lines in the attic. It still only affected the kitchen, so I aimed a space heater into the bottom kitchen cabinet and within a day water was flowing again. This time, I'm more concerned... no water flowing from any of the faucets. This happened before, but about 20 years ago when we had a similar long term deep freeze. I haven't been able to do much about this other than trying to keep all faucets wide open. The main shut off in the house I have almost fully closed. Today, finally, with some above freezing temps, I am starting to see dripping in the kitchen, but that's all so far. When this happened 20 years ago, I called the water company, and they couldn't do anything. A neighbor at the time cut up his hose and made a direct connection to my outdoor hose and got things running again, but he's long dead. Been no water for two days now. I'm wondering if I should just keep waiting or ? This is the first day in two weeks that temps have gone above 32. Should I completely shut off the internal house valve or leave it open somewhat? What about the main valve out at the meter? Thanks.
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If nothing busted yet i would wait it out. Keep em open until outside gives. The water co will fix their own pipes. Im in pa.
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On Monday, January 8, 2018 at 1:57:18 PM UTC-5, JBI wrote:









Leave it running. You want water to move through the frozen spot and melt i t. Whether the water that's dripping is coming through the blockage is ques tionable. It could also be draining from higher points in the house. In th e old days of underground steel pipe, you could get welders to hook on to t he ends of underground pipe with arc welders and pass current to warm it up . With poly pipe, that's not an option. Unless you know where it's frozen a nd can heat it, you'll just have to wait.
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On 01/08/2018 02:22 PM, trader_4 wrote:

Ok, guys, thanks I'll just wait it out. I did take a peek at the water meter main area and nothing is frosted over or unusually cold so my guess is between there and the house or maybe out under the road.
One good thing is that I have been leaving the kitchen faucets dripping ever since the first kitchen only freeze, so hopefully that helps with pressure. Now I have all the faucets open along with the main valve.
What puzzles me is why the main does it? Neighbors don't report the same problem. Ever since I had the drain line replaced with PVC some years ago have I had the main water line issue during extreme cold. This was replaced from the entrance to the house out under the roadway about 20 feet beyond the sidewalk. It runs parallel to the water line, but some distance from it.
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On Monday, January 8, 2018 at 2:38:54 PM UTC-5, JBI wrote:

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lt it. Whether the water that's dripping is coming through the blockage is questionable. It could also be draining from higher points in the house. I n the old days of underground steel pipe, you could get welders to hook on to the ends of underground pipe with arc welders and pass current to warm i t up. With poly pipe, that's not an option. Unless you know where it's froz en and can heat it, you'll just have to wait.


Where exactly is the water meter? If it's outside, it's supposed to be buried 4ft down or below whatever the frost line is there.


In the future, if you're trying to prevent it from freezing, I would do a small steady stream, maybe smaller than a pencil, but a lot more than some dripping. You need to move enough water to keep it above freezing.


It may be that whoever installed your line didn't bury it as deep as the neighbor lines. Soil composition might make some difference too. How does it come into the house? Through a basement wall?
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I've never seen the city's part of the line freeze. Break, sure, from ground movement.
Are you sure it's not part of your house that's frozen? Right where it enters?
also, how does it come in? Basement vs crawl space vs slab on grade makes a lot of difference.
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On 1/8/2018 3:40 PM, TimR wrote:

Found out years ago that this is busiest time of year for plumbers - fixing frozen pipes.
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Frank posted for all of us...

Busy time for firefighters too, responding to water flow alarms. Smells & bells...
--
Tekkie

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On 01/08/2018 03:47 PM, Frank wrote:

Well, when I had them come by the last time it froze nearly 20 years ago, not only did they charge $200 but did nothing to get things going saying to wait it out. Naturally, I'm hesitant to contact them again for no resolve.
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Oren posted for all of us...

I say with no disrespect: STFU
--
Tekkie

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wrote:

We had a few blocks freeze solid here a few years ago - took till March to thaw out The frost was down over 6 feet. After these last 3 weekls it woiuldn't surprise me if it happened again - folks in that area have been instructed to keep a tap running slowly th help preventthe lines from freezing.

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On 01/08/2018 03:40 PM, TimR wrote:

I'm not truly sure of anything. I don't have a basement, single level... simply a house on a concrete slab. No crawlspaces either. The shut off is located in the bathroom in the center of the house. Wherever the line enters is at the same depth as the meter I'm sure.
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On 01/08/2018 07:18 PM, JBI wrote:

Still frozen as of today. Although temps are now reaching mid 40's during daytime, the ground is still frozen. I'm beginning to wonder how long the frozen line will persist. Is there any way I could hasten it along? A quick thought is boiling several gal of water and then quickly pouring it above the ground where the line runs. It's about a 20' section between the house and through the yard. I doubt this would work, but just an idea. Thoughts?
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I have a frozen pipe going to my barn. It's not frozen above the ground. I have had a heater on it all the time. Its frozen below the ground. I have put a propane torch on it and nothing is helping. The temperature here has been close to 40 deg (F) for a few days now. I dont see any quick fix. I'll probably just wait till Spring. I once had farm animals in that barn, but I no longer have them, except for a few small ones that dont need large amounts of water. I have since just been running 120ft of garden hose from my house, twice a week, to give them water, or carrying a dozen 5gal pails of water twice a week to them. (the hose is easier).
Pouring boiling water on the ground wont do much, but you could try building a charcoal fire on top of the ground, like the cities do to thaw streets and other soil when they need to dig up pipes and stuff. I think they use coal though, not charcoal.
(Of course you can only get so close to buildings with that coal).
I noticed the cities cover that coal with cut in half steel drums (cut the long way), to direct the heat downward.
Good luck!
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Well, after 5 days, the water line must have thawed today as pressure returned to normal in all faucets this afternoon. I feel fortunate to have had three 55+ F degree days in a row which I'm sure helped speed up thawing after the several weeks of below freezing temps.
There is no question that this is the main line. The question is, how do I prevent this from happening again? It's only froze like this one other time, as I mentioned in my prior post, nearly 20 years ago with similar very cold temps. It never froze before that and only did it then right after the sewer line was replaced with PVC. We have always thought that something was done that disturbed the water line somehow because it never froze before that. There are two sewer access ports, one close to the house and the other not far from the water meter near the road and I'm wondering if either access runs too close to the water line and promotes freezing.
Anyway, water is very expensive here. City water and it runs me about $900/ year for the minimal amount used. Over past winters, I've usually run the tap at a trickle throughout the night, but this time that didn't work (although I wasn't running a trickle this time, only fast dripping). With water costs what they are here, I don't like to do that if a better solution is available. Throughout this ordeal, I've been searching for possible solutions. Other than the standard and expensive digging up routine, I also came across what looked like modified welders used to heat the problem section of pipe until thawed but the units themselves are well over $1K. Another option I came across was to lay down straw or hay over the 15x3 foot area causing the trouble, and then a tarp over the hay. I guess the idea is that the straw/ hay acts like insulation, keeping the soil warmer.
If anyone has ideas that aren't costly, I'd appreciate your thoughts. Hopefully, no more extended below freezing weather this season, but I want to be more prepared this time around just in case. thanks in advance.
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On Friday, January 12, 2018 at 11:50:01 PM UTC-5, JBI wrote:

Figure out what the actual cost of running a small stream of water is. I'll bet it's just a few bucks, if that. You only need to run it when no water will be drawn for a couple hours or more. Should be cheap.
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On 1/12/18 10:49 PM, JBI wrote:

There are things like this: <(Amazon.com product link shortened) 25&creative5953&creativeASIN072IPXDW>
or http://alturl.com/xb7eq
Lumber yards would have it.
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On 01/08/2018 01:57 PM, JBI wrote:

OMG! If you live where temps go below freezing for extended periods, water lines should never be run through exterior walls or an attic.
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On 01/22/2018 04:49 AM, R Bob wrote:

Unfortunately, they do. Where I live normally doesn't remain below freezing all day for more than several days during the winter. However, this year, like 2003, was an exception with about two solid weeks of below freezing weather.
I was fortunate that temps reached into the 60's just after the deep freeze and water flow was restored. Even though the main line froze, I had been leaving water dripping throughout the freeze, so I credit that to not having burst or damaged pipes once flow was restored. My neighbor wasn't so lucky. He never left anything dripping/ trickling and ended up with a burst line in the kitchen. The township here also ended up with a burst line under city streets. So, definitely not a good "pipe friendly" winter so far. I just hope it's over. Usually, when we get these freak cold periods, once they've had their couple of weeks, they're done for the season and I just hope that's the case this time.
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On Monday, January 22, 2018 at 9:29:32 AM UTC-5, JBI wrote:

Pipes break underground even though they might not have frozen. Extreme temperatures hot or cold are enough to cause ground movement.
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