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#21646 02/08/03 12:24 AM
Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 558
Wow! 4 ft. deep or deeper? I'm glad I live in the south this time of year.

#21647 02/08/03 01:11 AM
Joined: Feb 2003
Posts: 939
yeah ga.sparky56 here in north east wisconsin the main water line are buried 2 1/2 meters deep some case more but for run to the buldings the water dept call drop (the same terms what we electrican use) and they useally about over 1 1/2 meter deep and go in basement or stub up underneth of moble home park but for the rule for useing welder alot area are strict about it now most area say no way with le welder because most pipes are gone to plastic now that the princale reason they banned the welder pratics but some still do that and if not carefull it can blow the pipe i seeit happend with frozen vapour (steam) pipe !!!!! [Linked Image]
merci marc

Pas de problme,il marche n'est-ce pas?"(No problem, it works doesn't it?)

#21648 02/08/03 01:33 AM
Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 558
Sounds like to me,this method is not only a fire hazard but also boil water faster than a Ford flathead.

#21649 02/08/03 03:48 PM
Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 103
jes Offline
Have had it done at my folk's house several times by the municipal water dept when I was little. There was a curb box meter that they used for one connection and the other went to the incoming pipe in the basement. It can present a distinct fire problem depending on where the leads are connected and how the electrical system grounding and bonding is performed. The current doesn't care what pipe is frozen...just looking for a return path or paths! Somewhere I have an article about a fire caused by this process. If anyone want's to email me a FAX number I'll try to dig it out.

#21650 02/08/03 05:51 PM
Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 197
Gwz Offline

I assume I'm the Glen.

Have not looked in any TCR's or TCD's yet.

The thawing may be in article 250 but don't know how a proposal would be appropriate.

Did researh the EC&M and the IAEI NEWS.

Their was a comment started in the August 1971 issue, which I can't find that issue now.

The November 1971 issue, on page 170, did have several readers address August issue of the use of welding machines to thaw frozen water lines. They all thought that where this is done, all grounded and grounding conductors must be removed from the dwelling wiring system and also any dwelling near by. One said a fire started in a neighbor's home and ruined some of the NM wiring of the homes .

In the the Oct 1972 issue, on page 106, 4 homes had fires in the Quebec area when using welders to thaw water pipes.

The November 1991 issue, page 64, melted the green wire out of the dishwasher cord and damaged the cord for the garbage disposal.

The April 1992 issue, page 63 to 66, had more than a page and one-half on this subject.

The July/August 1998 issue, pages 59 to 63, of the IAEI NEWS had 5 full pages of thawing a sub-divisions' water system had damaged a home.


Apparently, the risk of damaging the electrical systems of any nearby service connected loads is enormous, because of the network of metal underground water lines and the common grounding conductor of the utility.

Some damage may not become obvious for months.

Joe, I will try to look in the 250 articles of the TCR's and TCD's later on.


#21651 02/08/03 06:25 PM
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 449
Back during the blizzard of '78 my brother, who owns a welding fab/repair shop, and I wore out a Miller Roughneck portable welder thawing water lines on farms. The pipes don't actually get hot to the touch.
The dumb thing was, when it started warming up for a few days folks would stop letting their water trickle and when the frost line came back up they'd freeze all over again! Thawed the same lines 2 or 3 times that winter. We always made sure they unplugged all appliances before we started.

#21652 02/09/03 02:50 PM
Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 456
They were doing it in the 1994 freeze (i think it was), it lasted until April, or
at least the line to one of our barns was,
we fed the barn using above ground hose
connected fed from the house, to a laundry
hose connected to the hose bib in the barn.
We never did it ourselves, as almost all of our undergroud plumbing is plastic.

I have herd of the steam pipe method too, connect a long piece of 1/8" or so

Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 2,749
Bump! Anyone having this same problem now?

Joe Tedesco, NEC Consultant
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,422
Likes: 1
Cat Servant
Oddly enough, I stayed home yesterday to deal with frozen water pipes.

I am perplexed at these 'frozen water main' claims. I had three ice jams, and each was where the house branch line exited the ground (pipes are buried in the crawl space) and entered the crawl space.
You troubles don't happen when the pipes freeze; the problems happen when thawing water has no place to go, and the pipes burst.

Therefore, I consider the 'welder' approach to be a good way to burst a pipe, especially if there are any elbows in the run.

Instead, I chose to apply GENTLE heat to the 'downstream' side of the ice, after opening the line. For heat I placed one of those oil-filled electric radiator-type heaters near the pipe, and used a small fan to blow heat toward the pipe.

Slow? You bet- but I managed to clear all three jams without any broken pipes.

Prevention, of course, is better than repairs. My (first ever) freezing pipe problems were caused, in part, by the fact that my home is undergoing some major remodeling, and not as much heat has been leaking into the crawl space as a result. Ironically, the issues will be permanently addressed this Summer, when I have a complete re-plumb scheduled.

In the mean time, I have sealed the crawl space much better, and have rigged up some low-quality heat trace lines.

Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 7,374
Likes: 7
Although not personal, the Fire Dept responded to 10+ burst fire sprinkler issues.

I had to respond to a 5 story hotel; blown pipe on 5th floor...water all the way down to grade. Panels in first floor electric room in path. Another was in a condo bldg., three floors, six units affected. One at mall, sprinkler line in entry foyer area, nice mess, water in lower level gym.

More on the list for tommorrow.

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