Winterize a Michigan house, is water shutoff at inside water meter sufficient?

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by mnalep, Dec 8, 2015.

  1. mnalep

    mnalep Member

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2008
    Location:
    Redford, Michigan
    So I did locate the cover to the outdoors water shutoff today. I have not yet tried to open it. Will it be difficult? Any tips?


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  2. mnalep

    mnalep Member

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2008
    Location:
    Redford, Michigan
    While I was outside today searching for the cover, 2 neighbors came by, and spoke to me.

    I showed them the picture of the supply pipe coming out of the basement floor, and going to the inside shutoff and water meter.

    They both told me that pipe was a 'lead pipe'. They said it would not bust if water was left in it. Can anyone here confirm this to be true?


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    Last edited: Dec 13, 2015
  3. cacher_chick

    cacher_chick Test, Don't Guess!

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2008
    Occupation:
    Test, Don't Guess!
    Location:
    Land of Cheese
    You have a lead water supply line, which can freeze much like any other. You need to call the city water dept to ask them to turn the water off out at the shutoff outside. If you try to do it and it breaks, you will be responsible for the cost of the entire excavation and repair, and they might force you to pay to have the lead supply line replaced also. You do not own the shut off at the street, it belongs to the city.
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2015
  4. mnalep

    mnalep Member

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2008
    Location:
    Redford, Michigan
    I found this article pipe prevention tips: https://www.iccsafe.org/wp-content/uploads/DIS-FreezeBurstPipe.pdf

    It published by the "Insurance Institute for Building and Home Safety". A couple of things they said struck me.

    First. pipes typically break downstream from the ice blockage. so a pipe freezing half way though its run will expand against a faucet, and with no relief at the faucet, the pipe between the freeze spot and faucet is where breaks happen. This is why sometimes letting the faucet drip slowly can prevent the pressure that breaks pipes.

    Conversely, supply pipes that are upstream from the frozen section will not usually freeze because the expanding pressure of frozen water will push pressure upstream to the supply source which is always open, and can that pressure be relieved by pushing back into the main supply lines. If this be true, I understand why that lead supply pipe might not break. If the water meter valve is closed and ice begins to form in the lead pipe, it can push the pressure back towards the city's main supply to relieve pressure. That makes sense, doesn't it?

    This article also claims that insulating the pipes with foam, or other materials, can slow the heat loss from water in the pipes to the surrounding colder air, and prevent heat loss from the relatively warmer water supply, and help keep pipes from freezing.

    I am now thinking to just close the valve at the water meter, and drain the lines and toilets. I may keep the heat on at 55, so if the furnace fails, then at least the pipes are emptied of water and won't freeze. A neighbor suggested disconnecting the water meter, and letting water drain out there, as that is the lowest point of all the water lines. That meter was replaced by the city a few years ago for a remote monitoring function, so I think it would come apart somewhat easily?
     
  5. mnalep

    mnalep Member

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2008
    Location:
    Redford, Michigan
    cacher_chick, I will try to call the city again this week.

    I did speak to someone last week (who knew nothing) but put my name in a list for a call back from the city supervisor. I should get a call back this Monday if she accurately predicted the 24-36 hours as their call back goal. We'll see...One of the neighbors thinks the city will come and bill me, the other thinks the city will tell me to call a plumber.
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2015
  6. jacobsond

    jacobsond DIY Junior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2010
    Location:
    Fairmount, North Dakota
    Many houses have been damaged by not shutting the water off at the street when you are letting the house freeze down.I would image the city would rather send someone over to shut your water off at the street than letting your basement fill up with water when that pipe does freeze.Call the water dept and tell them you need the water shut off at the street to the house. Don't see if they will do it. Tell them to do it. Our city guy was trying to chase down a water leak last winter. The city was using a lot more water than "normal" he said. Didn't know if it was a water main break or what. No water showing anywhere. It was a house that unoccupied for the winter water not shut off at the street. Water spraying everywhere in the basement going right down the drain.
     
  7. mnalep

    mnalep Member

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2008
    Location:
    Redford, Michigan
    Hi Jacobsond. Thanks for your input!

    I am now thinking about leaving the heat on. Two furnaces (two floors, upper and lower). I thought if I drained the pipes - that would be an extra level of safety, in case either furnace goes out. Especially if I can get some other heat near that lead pipe out of the floor. (Looking at electric 'tape' stuff, or a light bulb and insulation, that would keep warmth on it as 2nd level of safety, as suggested above).

    I think I'd have to go check every week (at least) when it's freezing temperatures outside. That is a concern. (But I figure it would motivate me to go there, and finish some work still there too. I'm not keen on letting house freeze down if I can avoid it. I've never done that before, and not sure what other problems that puts on an old house).

    I just been being distracted by other problems lately, dental, holidays. etc.
     
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