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#21636 - 02/07/03 06:18 PM Creative pipe thawing  
Electricmanscott  Offline
Joined: Jan 2002
Posts: 1,457
Holden, MA USA
My neighbors water main froze last week somewhere between the house and street. (200 feet) To thaw the pipe a contractor connected the leads from his welder to the shutoff at the street and the main coming into the house. New one to me. Any thoughts?

Work Gear for Electricians and the Trades

#21637 - 02/07/03 07:25 PM Re: Creative pipe thawing  
maintenanceguy  Offline
Joined: Dec 2001
Posts: 300
Southern NJ, USA
Years ago, worked for an apartment complex. Had pipes freeze all over the place one unusually cold couple of weeks. We used the welder too.

Hooked up with long cables and turned it on for maybe 2 seconds at a time. A little trickle would start and we'd pack everything away and let the flowing water do the rest.

#21638 - 02/07/03 07:33 PM Re: Creative pipe thawing  
Joe Tedesco  Offline
Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 2,749
Boston, Massachusetts USA
Be careful since the house next door could catch fire. This was the subject of lengthy discussions some time ago where that was a reason for a code change.

I don't have the dates, but the proposal from Artie Barker former Idaho Cheif Electrical Inspector had his proposal accepted. I think it had to do with the bonding jumper around the water meter.

Glen -- can you researrch the 81 through the 87 TCR's or TCD's please.

Joe Tedesco, NEC Consultant

#21639 - 02/07/03 07:41 PM Re: Creative pipe thawing  
sparky  Offline
Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 5,311
that's all the plumbers are doing in this deep freeze , they make a device that does essentially what the welders are doing.

, i have not investigated the 'bona-fide' device as yet,but believe high freq & skin effect is key & would venture sensitive electronics to be vunderable

#21640 - 02/07/03 08:19 PM Re: Creative pipe thawing  
pauluk  Offline
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 7,520
Norfolk, England
The London Underground (two-thirds of which is actually open and at grade level) uses a similar principle of passing high-current low-voltage juice through the tracks to clear ice before trains start in the morning.

#21641 - 02/07/03 11:06 PM Re: Creative pipe thawing  
walrus  Offline
Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 680
Bangor Me. USA
Have done that many times, isolate a conduit, hook welder leads at each end. Hook a air compressor on one end and stand back. When she blows you know you can pull out the bad and in with the new.
I have also used tubing and steam. Force the tubing up the conduit with steam coming out and you can break up a small iced in area.Blow it out and pull in new wires [Linked Image]

#21642 - 02/07/03 11:15 PM Re: Creative pipe thawing  
harold endean  Offline
Joined: Feb 2002
Posts: 2,233
Boonton, NJ

I have heard that before that electric fires have been started with welders and frozen pipes. There was an article in one of the magazines about it. Not sure if it was IAEI,EC&M, CEE, or EC. It is very common here in northern NJ to thaw pipes that way, the plumbers do it all the time. Can someone get a shock with this method?

#21643 - 02/07/03 11:48 PM Re: Creative pipe thawing  
ga.sparky56  Offline
Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 558
young harris georgia usa
How deep are the water services there?

#21644 - 02/08/03 12:36 AM Re: Creative pipe thawing  
lighthouse  Offline
Joined: Jan 2003
Posts: 134
philadelphia pa 19125
had that done at my house about 5 years ago.i just called a welded to the house he hookup one end to the fireplug on the corner about 35 ft and the other end to my copper water pipe in my he did remove my water meter an put it back after.cost me 125.00 bucks,in fact he did 4 houses on my block that day.

that's the first time that i herd it can start a fire.anymore info on that.

ga.sparky56...about 3-4 ft down.some deeper

#21645 - 02/08/03 12:49 AM Re: Creative pipe thawing  
resqcapt19  Offline
Joined: Nov 2000
Posts: 2,148
Our city passed an ordinance prohibiting the use of welding equipment to thaw frozen underground pipes after a fire was caused by this method. To make matters worse the fire was not in the house with the frozen water line. The plumber hooked up the welding leads to a fire hydrant and to the water line in the house. There was a nonmetallic under ground fitting in this water line. The current went from the water line to the service neutral (via the grounding electrode conductor) into the second house via the grounded conductor and to the water line in the second house and then to the fire hydrant. The water pipe grounding electrode conductor in the second house was run directly on a floor joist and the excessive current produced enough heat to ignite this joist. Fortunately this fire was discovered early and there was only a small amount of damage.


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