Replacing water line from meter to house...

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & ' started by gdog, Jun 14, 2008.

  1. gdog

    gdog write diagnostic firmware for embedded industrial

    Messages:
    45
    Location:
    Pac NW
    Hi All,

    Got a 3 bdrm 1 bath house with galv pipe; replacing from the meter (about 45' away) to the house w/copper.

    Couple of questions:

    1. There's currently a shutoff valve at the meter and appears to be another shutoff at the house outside, just before the pipe goes under the house into the crawl. Do I need to keep the shutoff at the house? From what I've read about this, you don't want any underground joints in the copper if possible. But if I install a valve at the house, that would certainly require joints underground.

    2. Measured the current pressure at the house is about 60 psi. Haven't measured to old galv pipe size as yet but it appears to be at least 1". Could I get by with 3/4" copper or should go with 1"? Was planning on using L grade soft copper or is K required for underground? I'm portland Or area; water Ph is fine (corrosion not an issue).

    Thanks for any tips. Background: I'm DIY; have done lots of copper replacement, but not underground before.
  2. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,334
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    I would put a valve inside the house where the pipe enters. Having one at the meter wouldn't hurt, but doubtful how much value it would be. I'm not sure about type L soft copper, but type K ridged would be great. I understand that soft copper is sold only in large rolls, so it would be prohibitively expensive if you had to by 100 feet or more to use 45 feet. I'd opt for the heavier gauge anyway. I don't think there is much to gain by going to a size larger than the outlet from your meter. On a short run of 45 feet, friction loss will be too small to consider. It is my understanding that underground K copper is supposed to be brazed rather than soldered. (But, I'm not going to dig down 5 feet to have the joints redone that I soldered when I teed my irrigation line) The pros may have some opinions that differ from mine and I would suggest you listen to what they offer. Many of them are not around too much on weekends and holidays, so keep checking back the first of the week.
  3. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    Soft ( rolled ) copper comes in 60' rolls. At somewhere around $2.50 to $4 per foot, you would have some waste, but not the end of the world.

    Many places require type K underground ( heavier, more $$$). Around here, type L is almost always used, an no major issues come up.

    If you go copper, I would probably use the 3/4, because the jump to 1" will be quite costly. You could condsider PVC or PE for the undground run. With either of those, I would use 1".


    http://www.terrylove.com/watersize.htm
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 15, 2008
  4. gdog

    gdog write diagnostic firmware for embedded industrial

    Messages:
    45
    Location:
    Pac NW
    Thanks for the info!

    Re: shutoff valves: There's already one on the city side of the meter, and currently another one at the house (45' away) but on the exterior and below grade by at least a foot or more. The pipe itself is about 2.5 ft below grade. So Gary; you would put the house shutoff inside the crawl? I guess I could do that, then I could make the connection above ground (and no underground joints), though access is not great under there.

    BTW: What is ridged copper pipe? Not hip to that jive.. Aha; does ridged mean rigid; as in not-soft copper?

    Jimbo: You said type L is OK in your neck of the woods for underground; what part of the country are you in? Wondering if that's cool in the PAC NW? Thanks for the link too; anymore of these on this site?

    One more thing; my current meter box/enclosure is made out of wood (not kidding) with a metal cover on top; shouldn't this thing be made out of concrete? Where can I get a new one. Assuming I will need to R&R this enclosure to make the connection at the meter, yes?

    Thanks again!
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2008
  5. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    I am pretty sure he means rigid, as in hard, not soft or rolled, copper! We use L here in Earthquake Country ( southern California!).
  6. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,334
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    You might want to look at plastic boxes for you meter. You'll find them in the irrigation section. Rigid copper pipe is exactly that. It comes in 20' and 10' lengths. It must be soldered or brazed at the joints. Soft copper comes in rolls and is joined with compression fittings. As to putting the shut off valve inside the crawl space, consider where you would want it in case of a broken pipe in the middle of a winter night and you had to turn off the water. Outside in the dark under snow or where you could easily reach it? Of course, I know of some places that don't even have a shut off valve! Rigid copper comes in 3 weights or thicknesses. Type M, type L, and type K. Type K is the thickest and of course the most expensive. Type M is the lightweight, and type L in the middle. Fittings are the same for all thicknesses. You need to check code requirements in you area unless you just want to be sure and spend the extra buck for type K. I opted for type K several years ago, but copper prices weren't through the roof then. But, to do over, I'd still go with the K because I always go heavy duty. If I had to buy a 1000 feet of it, I would probably have to evaluate the need.
  7. xd2005

    xd2005 New Member

    Messages:
    27
    How old is your meter?

    I live just to your north in Vancouver and replaced my supply line a couple years back. The City also replaced my meter (it was old and they had to come out to turn it off because it was rusted open and decided to replace it). At the same time, they replaced the box around my meter with a new concrete one. You may be able to do something similar with your water company (new meter and box, or at least new box).
  8. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,519
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    water

    If it is just for your house 3/4" should work. If you have a lawn irrigation system, then you may want 1". The meter enclosure is usually city property and they replace it when necessary.
  9. gdog

    gdog write diagnostic firmware for embedded industrial

    Messages:
    45
    Location:
    Pac NW
    Thanks for the feedback, but my basic question regarding the meter box is:
    Do you usually remove and replace the box in order to disconnect the old pipe and reconnect the new one. Or do you just work around it; it pretty tight quarters in there.

    Thanks again.
  10. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,334
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    I think it depends on the individual case. My meter is in a concrete pipe with a manhole cover. The pipe running to the house is 5 feet below the ground surface. About 3 feet inside my property line, I branch off for my irrigation system. The back flow preventer and irrigation shut off are located in a plastic control box that is at ground level. If the city has to do work on the meter, there is space in the concrete pipe for them to work. If I have to do work on my side, what has to be done dictates whether or not to remove the box. If yours if an old wooden box, I think it would be wise to remove it and replace it with something better, but remember, if it is the meter being worked on or replaced, it's the city's responsibility.
  11. gdog

    gdog write diagnostic firmware for embedded industrial

    Messages:
    45
    Location:
    Pac NW
    Mine's done now. I went with 60' roll of soft L copper; that gave me about 15' extra under the house so I ran the extra over toward the crawl space access and put the shutoff valve there.

    Now if I need to shut off the water to the house, I can get to the valve from within 3' of the interior crawl access. Before I had to crawl (literally) about 20' in the crawl space to get to the valve.

    I don't like the idea of burying soldered joints and from what I've read on this site, others feel the same way. If I were you, I would go soft L or straighten out the trench to minimize the number of joints (maybe seismic activity over the years made it curve like that...:D). Every joint you add underground is one more chance to leak down the road. The hardest part of this job was digging a 45' trench; luckily we're in the NW so it was only 2.5' deep.

    As far as pricing, I shopped around for 3/4" L soft copper:
    - Fergusons: approx $5 per foot
    - George Morlan: approx $4.20 per foot
    - ABoy: $3.50
    - HD: $3.00

    I got mine at ABoy because I called my local HD (first mistake) and they said:
    1. They didn't carry it, and
    2. it would take at least two weeks to order it.

    So I get the pipe at ABoy, and then about a week or so later I'm at the HD getting something else and there I see it in the plumbing dept up high on a dusty shelf, a 60' roll of 3/4" soft copper for $178 on a clearance sale! Doh!

    Oh well, at least I didn't buy it at Fergusons.

    Good luck.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 10, 2010
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