underground frozen pipe

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & ' started by tgaf1949, Jan 29, 2008.

  1. tgaf1949

    tgaf1949 New Member

    Messages:
    9
    I live in cold country, Santa Fe NM. I live in a very old house, built probbably in 1940's or earlier. I believe I have a frozen pipe somewhere between the water pump in my front yard and my house, a distance maybe of 30 yards.
    The pump was frozen, but I got in unfrozen after pouring propane gas on it for 2-3 hours and digging down about 2 feet.

    I have two questions.
    #1. So far no one has been able to determine where the main inlet for water to house is located. I have no main water shut off in house that anyone has been able to locate. My old spanish house was built in stages.
    The bathroom was added on after the house was built. There are two shut off valves in crawl space under the bathroom which we have determined are for shutting off water in bathroom. Any suggestions where we might look for it, or maybe there isn't any. Someone suggested possibly digging up around the outside wall from where water heater is located, which is in kitchen.

    Some think the freeze may be at the "T" intersection of pump in the yard.
    Question # 2 Is there someway of applying an electrical charge at pump that might unfreeze the "T" section, or do we need to dig down to it.

    All the piping in house and under the part of the house that is accessible, are not frozen.
  2. fidodie

    fidodie New Member

    Messages:
    94
    Location:
    new jersey
    When you say "no one" do you mean "no plumber" or no friend/neighbor/family member?

    follow the electricity....most wouldn't dig two trenches. it probably goes out to the well about "just" above the water inlet. you may not have a shut-off with a well - the breaker takes care of it!

    disturbing the dirt and leaving it uncovered will add to the problem.

    take a picture of what you dug up, should be interesting - you probably have a clogged galvanized pipe rather than a frozen one....well, it is frozen now that it is exposed. I don't even want to think about the health of the pump - when was the last time it was replaced?

    if you need a pump, you should get the pipe to the house converted (probably PB ?), set to the right depth per local code, a shut-off (maybe), and a backflow preventer.

    oh, I noticed some of the real plumbers on this site are from the northeast - which would make your home "new".........it would need to be in the 1840s to start qualifying as really old :)
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2008
  3. Herk

    Herk Plumber

    Messages:
    547
    Location:
    S.E. Idaho
    Sounds serious.

    The way to figure out which pipe comes into the house is to trace the cold water pipe all the way to where it comes in, which may be difficult if yours is in an unexcavated area.

    How deep is the pipe in the ground?

    Since propane is a gas, how did you pour it?

    Is there an area where you drive over the pipe? That can push frost very deep into the ground.

    You may need to get someone with a pipe-thawing transformer to hook up to it.
  4. tgaf1949

    tgaf1949 New Member

    Messages:
    9
    One who looked at it is a plumber: both do plumbing repairs. The hand pump in yard is not frozen now. I have a heat tape on it, and keep it drippping. Also put a trash can over it at nite.

    Can you expand on what you mean when you say"follow the electricity?
    The pump has been here for at least 15 years which is how long I have lived here. I only use it usually for watering trees.
    Thanks for your input.
  5. fidodie

    fidodie New Member

    Messages:
    94
    Location:
    new jersey
    wow, now i'm confused.

    you mentioned pump, i heard well? Do you have a well or are you on city water? in which case there must be a meter and a shut-off -
    If you have a well, it is run by electricity, and there will be a junction where it goes outside, most likely near your water main. So if you can follow the wires from the breaker box to where they go outside, you are golden.

    It cann't be a hand pump and be dripping! Even if it looks like one.
    Now are you talking about a hydrant valve somewhere in your front yard that you don't know how the water gets to it? sample picture

    [​IMG]

    I interpreted your message as you didn't have water in the house, since you were looking for a water main, and mentioned frozen.....worthy of panic!
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2008
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