help with new water mains at home

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help with new water mains at home

Postby rgk » Sat Jun 25, 2011 6:52 am

Hi there. I've just paid for a ticket to Burning Man, and am aware of all the costs associated with the trip. However, on my mind is also my parents' house, which is located in a village that has updated its water mains.

The village has given my parents (and everyone else) a year to update the pipe that goes from the main to their house, and declared it their responsibility. The year is almost up. I feel that I should help them with this, as their means are meager. Mine, however, are meager as well, so I'm wondering whether this is maybe something that we can do on our own with some good advice.

Does anyone have any experience with digging up pipes, getting rid of old ones, and hooking up new ones? Does anyone have any idea how much the labor for this could cost in the Chicagoland area?

The distance from the house to the main is about 100 feet (maybe more) and there is one driveway (about ten feet wide) in the way.

Any help is appreciated.

Thanks.
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Postby lucky.bastard » Sat Jun 25, 2011 7:07 am

i'd figure somewhere between $3000-$5000 depending on how far the house is from the city demarc point and how much shit they have to dig up to get to it and how much it is going to take to put everything back together.... i considered doing mine myself but it was buried 4' deep and had the electrical main line running right beside it...
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Postby jkisha » Sat Jun 25, 2011 7:08 am

What is the penalty to the home owner if they don't get it done on time?
Have they/you contacted the water department to find out if there is any senior or low income subsidy or forgiveness for this?
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Postby FIGJAM » Sat Jun 25, 2011 7:13 am

There's some new tech that requires no digging up of the old pipe.

I have a costumer that just had this done becaue of a burst pipe.

They dug down to the 2 ends, then pulled a flexible new line through the old one. $700 for her 120ft job.
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Postby BBadger » Sat Jun 25, 2011 8:01 am

If multiple people in that village haven't done it yet, perhaps they can get a deal with a contractor to do all the pipes at once.
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Postby HandJamMasterC » Sat Jun 25, 2011 8:18 am

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Postby rgk » Sat Jun 25, 2011 8:29 am

FIGJAM wrote:There's some new tech that requires no digging up of the old pipe.

I have a costumer that just had this done becaue of a burst pipe.

They dug down to the 2 ends, then pulled a flexible new line through the old one. $700 for her 120ft job.


That sound really good. Do you have any more information, or know what the process is called?
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Postby FIGJAM » Sat Jun 25, 2011 8:43 am

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Postby rgk » Sat Jun 25, 2011 8:48 am

Cool, I'll give them a call.
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Postby FIGJAM » Sat Jun 25, 2011 8:52 am

Called the customer, she did'nt have their card or know the name of the process, but she did say it was $850.

They did her whole line in 3 hours!
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Postby rgk » Sat Jun 25, 2011 9:01 am

I just sent them an email with all the relevant information. I'll see if they can do such a thing near Chicago. According to their website, they don't have any reps near there, but maybe they can ship the materials and a local contractor can do it.
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Postby theCryptofishist » Sat Jun 25, 2011 10:00 am

I think they call that "trenchless."
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One approach to skilled technical work

Postby gyre » Thu Jun 30, 2011 5:22 am

I'm not sure I follow what "update" means in tis case.
Is this a change from one main to another?

The trenchless idea is good, if it applies.

Don't be afraid to subcontract or divide the work appropriately.
The highest skill level involved is making the connections.

If you learn the details, you could have anyone dig the trench or use a trenching machine.
See commercial equipment rental companies.

If you do everthing you can ahead of time, you can find a plumber that will work with you.

I often do this with any repair above my skill or equipment level.
Often I pay only for troubleshooting and education.

The village may require a plumber to sign off on the job.
Include this in the work.

As an example, a master plumber or their advice may be needed to know exactly how to do it.
Whether you pay them or just ask a few questions of someone, do your homework, so you don't waste their time.
People are often quite willing to help if you know enough to ask intelligent questions, and don't waste their time.

Be pleasant.
Be entertaining, if possible.
Everyone is bored.

This was how I bought my receiver recently.
I had done all possible research on my application, and knew the old receiver style would fit the new trucks (with new holes drilled).
We talked about quality changes, other technical things, I got to ask some questions about wiring.
He actually complimented me on my background knowledge in my particular area, ie my truck.
High praise from a hitch shop that goes back generations.
Ultimately he knocked the very fair price down 40%, so I paid about what I would have paid to modify another receiver to fit, probably less.
The deal?
As is, take it away, no hardware.
Translation = Don't waste my time when you get ready to mount it. And, I don't want to hunt down bolts now.
And he had told me how to do it.
That price would have never happened in a better economy though.

Quotes?
I'd say far more than three, or careful shopping.
I had quotes on treework that varied from hundreds to over ten thousand.


Perhaps skilled or very skilled labor to layout the job or do the primary part.

Digging? Anyone that will follow instructions.

Laying the main pipe (if conventional), anyone with adequate training.
Basic work.
A journeyman or good assistant might do it off hours.

Make it clear you will do prep and cleanup, if you will.

When you need very skilled labor, hire very skilled.

If you are willing to wait for a spare moment, tell them, but only if you mean it.
If someone can run by, knock their part out and leave, they will love you for it.
You may actually get something done faster.

Often, you can pay them more than they can charge per hour, and still save a lot of money.
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Re: help with new water mains at home

Postby jross » Thu Jun 30, 2011 7:06 am

I replaced my sewer and water line 3 years ago. I dug it up, took the old out, and put new in. I did ten foot at a time to stay under the state codes for needing a permit. It cost about $300, for about 50 feet of each line. Prime and glue your fittings and keep a 1/4" to every 10' drop on the sewer. Put a clean out at the house and another in the middle, or at least every 80'.
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Re: help with new water mains at home

Postby Drawingablank » Thu Jun 30, 2011 7:32 am

The building codes vary hugely from one place to the next so make sure you check that before starting. For example, where I live you cannot shut the water main unless you are a licensed plumber - the valve is buried and has some sort of key that only plumbers and the water department have so you cannot just casually shut it to do some work. The process also involves the plumber making an appointment with the water dept. to come down and dig up the valve box.

My house is over 110 years old and we have been looking into ways to replace the supply line. The most cost effective so far is a technique using high pressure water to tunnel from the water main to the house to then run a pipe through. This requires only excavating at the main and at the side of the house, leaving all the concrete and landscaping untouched. We were quoted about 2,600.00 for a 50 foot run which included the licensed plumber and all necessary building permits. This method would probably not be available in areas with rocky soil though.
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Re: help with new water mains at home

Postby jross » Thu Jun 30, 2011 5:21 pm

Drawingablank wrote:The building codes vary hugely from one place to the next so make sure you check that before starting. For example, where I live you cannot shut the water main unless you are a licensed plumber - the valve is buried and has some sort of key that only plumbers and the water department have so you cannot just casually shut it to do some work. The process also involves the plumber making an appointment with the water dept. to come down and dig up the valve box.

As a homeowner of a personal residence you have the right to do more than you think, as far as repairs and not to defraud . The key usually turns a 5 sided nut or is made to fit on a t handled valve. You can turn either with a pair of 420 channel locks or you can buy the tool for $15 online or at any plumbing supply house. I would think any home owner can turn his water main off or on, unless its a nonpayment issue. If you found yours was leaking you would have to call someone else to turn it off? How is the water dept. really going to know?
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Re: help with new water mains at home

Postby motskyroonmatick » Thu Jun 30, 2011 8:12 pm

In my experience when a city updates a water line they replace everything up to the meter and usually the meter it's self. The consumer side of the meter is where residential ownership takes over. The owner of the property is responsible for all installation, maintenance and repair of the line from the meter and in to the structure where it connects to the house plumbing. Typically in new construction the Plumber who is doing the work on the structure will install all piping from the back of the meter in to and throughout the structure. Ownership of utility systems varies by type and locality. My experience locally may not be the same as your parents situation.

Is your situation one where they have installed a new pipe to the existing or newly installed meter box? Do you even have a meter box at the curb? I'm thinking with the long duration cold climate of the winter the meter may possible be in the house....?

Is you situation one where you have to dig to the main, install a corporation stop(valve) and extend service through the street, beyond the curb(or in to the utility right of way), set a meter box and connect to the house plumbing supply?

Hmmm. After rereading your original post it seems that the property owner is responsible for the service line all the way from the house to where it joins the main line. Is this the case? If it is the case specialized equipment is needed to hot tap the main and perform excavating, compacting and repaving. Definitely a task for professionals familiar with city construction standards. Going across the yard is a much easier affair but if professionals are needed to do in street work then it makes sense to have them also take care of the off street portion as well. The savings of having them not do that portion in my mind would be minimal. Specialized equipment may be needed to penetrate concrete in to a basement unless you are confident with a chipping gun and grout.

Can you provide pictures of the point where the home owner is supposed to connect to the main, the path the replacement line will take and the point where the replacement will end? Pictures will help a great deal. Pictures of patch paving in the street from the cities update would be useful as well as the curb area. Knowing if power, phone and cable are all overhead or buried would be good too.

I definitely second the idea of joining or creating a group to get a better price from a contractor by providing them with multiple jobs. Especially one that has been providing the service recently as people complete the required work.
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Re: One approach to skilled technical work

Postby ygmir » Thu Jun 30, 2011 11:22 pm

gyre wrote:I'm not sure I follow what "update" means in tis case.
Is this a change from one main to another?

The trenchless idea is good, if it applies.

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Re: help with new water mains at home

Postby Drawingablank » Fri Jul 01, 2011 7:08 am

jross wrote:
Drawingablank wrote:The building codes vary hugely from one place to the next so make sure you check that before starting. For example, where I live you cannot shut the water main unless you are a licensed plumber - the valve is buried and has some sort of key that only plumbers and the water department have so you cannot just casually shut it to do some work. The process also involves the plumber making an appointment with the water dept. to come down and dig up the valve box.

As a homeowner of a personal residence you have the right to do more than you think, as far as repairs and not to defraud . The key usually turns a 5 sided nut or is made to fit on a t handled valve. You can turn either with a pair of 420 channel locks or you can buy the tool for $15 online or at any plumbing supply house. I would think any home owner can turn his water main off or on, unless its a nonpayment issue. If you found yours was leaking you would have to call someone else to turn it off? How is the water dept. really going to know?


Since the box is buried under the lawn somewhere - if I don't get the water department involved it would mean getting a metal detector and / or digging up a chunk of landscaping just to find the box - the 15.00 tool would actually be the least of it.

I understand I have the right to do any of the work myself, and they would be happy to come down and shut the water for the duration. However since I am not a licensed plumber, it would all have to be left excavated and exposed until passing inspection - meaning trenching the lawn, 3 terraced planting areas, and 2 concrete sidewalks and doing without water until it is inspected and complete. In places that pipe is at least 6 feet below grade which is a deep trench. Sometimes it is just cheaper to pay a professional who can do it with minimal damage to the landscape.
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Re: help with new water mains at home

Postby rgk » Fri Jul 01, 2011 3:54 pm

jkisha, the penalty is no water. The village only takes care of the permit, for which there is no senior citizen discount. Some plumbers offer a senior citizen discount. However, I spoke to the water superintendent today and this is what he said:

I am responsible for replacing the pipe from the B-box to the house, also called the service line. The village has replaced the main, which flows along and underneath the street. The B-box connects the service line to the main line. I believe our water meters are located on the side of the house, but I am not exactly sure. From the house to the B-box is about 100 feet. I called my dad to measure the length - he will get back to me. The super said that the water pipe will be located about six feet under the ground in order to keep it from freezing. Additionally, the soil is pretty sandy, so digging by hand is sort of out of the question. We don't need a permit to dig, and he said that some people here have done it, but if we're going to dig six feet down for 100 feet, we'd be better off using heavy machinery.

The super also said that if our house is equipped with copper lines, then we will have slightly less work, as we won't have to replace the line all the way to the house. If it's galvanized pipe, all of it has to be replaced due to lead concerns. However, I'm not sure exactly how much we would have to replace, as I didn't understand him. I asked twice, but he seemed to be getting annoyed, so I took gyre's advice and left it at that. He said that there will be a guy in the water office on Tuesday who knows more about it, so I left my phone number and planned on talking with him then. The super also asked whether I would be out there at my parent's at any time, as the city officials would be glad to come by and discuss everything. I was not planning a trip, but I might have to.

I called a couple of plumbing agencies. They will be coming by after the holiday weekend to give me a quote with and without the digging. I have asked around about trenchless technology, but the plumbers around here don't know about snaking in a line through an old one. One plumber said that they do that for old sewage lines, but not water lines. He also said that it is possible to bore a tunnel, but that it will surely be more expensive than digging a trench. Separating the job into several partitions sounds like a good idea, but the problem is that I live six hours away and work a full time job, so being there to oversee everything is difficult. I might be able to do it in theory, but it might mean giving up Burning Man. The reality is that I don't know how much all of this will cost and won't know until next week, so it might even be entirely out of my ability. Still, I'm going to continue asking around and gathering information. I have all summer to do it - the line has to be hooked up September 1st.

Edit: Yes, they are changing the water main from one to another. I believe the new one will be larger. The super said that if we have copper pipes, we will be able to hook up part of our existing service line to the new main using a converter, something which a plumber I found on craigslist said, via email, is impossible.
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Re: help with new water mains at home

Postby FIGJAM » Fri Jul 01, 2011 5:36 pm

Tell the water company that you are planting a big ass tree and you need them to blue stake where the lines are.

Then you will know where the box and line are.

The water company may also know about trechless replacement.

Can't hurt to ask.
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Re: help with new water mains at home

Postby jross » Fri Jul 01, 2011 6:13 pm

rgk wrote:jkisha, the penalty is no water. The village only takes care of the permit, for which there is no senior citizen discount. Some plumbers offer a senior citizen discount. However, I spoke to the water superintendent today and this is what he said:

I am responsible for replacing the pipe from the B-box to the house, also called the service line. The village has replaced the main, which flows along and underneath the street. The B-box connects the service line to the main line. I believe our water meters are located on the side of the house, but I am not exactly sure. From the house to the B-box is about 100 feet. I called my dad to measure the length - he will get back to me. The super said that the water pipe will be located about six feet under the ground in order to keep it from freezing. Additionally, the soil is pretty sandy, so digging by hand is sort of out of the question. We don't need a permit to dig, and he said that some people here have done it, but if we're going to dig six feet down for 100 feet, we'd be better off using heavy machinery.

The super also said that if our house is equipped with copper lines, then we will have slightly less work, as we won't have to replace the line all the way to the house. If it's galvanized pipe, all of it has to be replaced due to lead concerns. However, I'm not sure exactly how much we would have to replace, as I didn't understand him. I asked twice, but he seemed to be getting annoyed, so I took gyre's advice and left it at that. He said that there will be a guy in the water office on Tuesday who knows more about it, so I left my phone number and planned on talking with him then. The super also asked whether I would be out there at my parent's at any time, as the city officials would be glad to come by and discuss everything. I was not planning a trip, but I might have to.

I called a couple of plumbing agencies. They will be coming by after the holiday weekend to give me a quote with and without the digging. I have asked around about trenchless technology, but the plumbers around here don't know about snaking in a line through an old one. One plumber said that they do that for old sewage lines, but not water lines. He also said that it is possible to bore a tunnel, but that it will surely be more expensive than digging a trench. Separating the job into several partitions sounds like a good idea, but the problem is that I live six hours away and work a full time job, so being there to oversee everything is difficult. I might be able to do it in theory, but it might mean giving up Burning Man. The reality is that I don't know how much all of this will cost and won't know until next week, so it might even be entirely out of my ability. Still, I'm going to continue asking around and gathering information. I have all summer to do it - the line has to be hooked up September 1st.

Edit: Yes, they are changing the water main from one to another. I believe the new one will be larger. The super said that if we have copper pipes, we will be able to hook up part of our existing service line to the new main using a converter, something which a plumber I found on craigslist said, via email, is impossible.
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Re: help with new water mains at home

Postby ygmir » Fri Jul 01, 2011 6:40 pm

something seems backwards (or, it could easily be me):

I'd think, if there were a lead issue, it'd be with copper, since it is soldered.
I don't see how there would be a lead issue with steel pipe, which, should be galvanized (zinc). With galv. pipe, threads, and pipe dope, if that, connect them.
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Re: help with new water mains at home

Postby jross » Fri Jul 01, 2011 6:51 pm

ygmir wrote:something seems backwards (or, it could easily be me):

I'd think, if there were a lead issue, it'd be with copper, since it is soldered.
I don't see how there would be a lead issue with steel pipe, which, should be galvanized (zinc). With galv. pipe, threads, and pipe dope, if that, connect them.
I have seen a few old lead water lines, that look like black iron.
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Re: help with new water mains at home

Postby ygmir » Fri Jul 01, 2011 7:08 pm

jross wrote:
ygmir wrote:something seems backwards (or, it could easily be me):

I'd think, if there were a lead issue, it'd be with copper, since it is soldered.
I don't see how there would be a lead issue with steel pipe, which, should be galvanized (zinc). With galv. pipe, threads, and pipe dope, if that, connect them.
I have seen a few old lead water lines, that look like black iron.


true that.........but, it's gotta be damn old, to be lead pipe, I'd think..........
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Re: help with new water mains at home

Postby rgk » Fri Jul 01, 2011 7:31 pm

I suppose I may have assumed that the galvanized pipe means there is a lead issue. Now that I think about it, the water super(intendent) didn't specify exactly WHY galvanized pipe would have to be replaced, only that copper could stay...
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Re: help with new water mains at home

Postby Bin Noddin » Fri Jul 01, 2011 8:04 pm

Galvanized pipe can corrode on the inside, gradually impeding flow. We replaced the lines in my house with copper and the old iron pipes were clogged like my arteries. Interestingly, this was only true for the water lines under high pressure, while the iron pipes circulating from the boiler to the radiators under low pressure were not corroded at all and left in place.
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Re: help with new water mains at home

Postby rgk » Sat Jul 02, 2011 11:52 am

I spoke with my sister, who will be visiting my parents this month. She really wants me to come, so she is willing to buy me a train ticket to get there and come back. During my visit I plan on meeting with the water superintendent and getting all the necessary info, such as location of pipes, etc. I also plan on contacting JULIE to get the necessary underground power line information.

I went to the rental place today to find out what they have in terms of digging equipment. They have trenchers, but those only go down to 48". I called a rental place not far from my folks' place, and found out that the best machinery for the job would be either a mini excavator, a backhoe, or a termite. The excavator and termites dig down to about 8ft 4in. I don't know much about any of these, but a simple google search reveals that the mini excavator would probably be best for the job. It costs about $235 per day to rent, with a $45 charge to rent a trailer on which to tow it. They won't deliver, as the thirty or so miles is too far. I hope to find someone on craigslist or through word of mouth (or maybe even a neighbor) with a 2.5 ton truck to help me take it home and bring it back.

After I speak with the guy from the water dept. who knows about the pipes under my parents' house, I will get an idea of what kind of pipes I will need and how many. I will then get a good idea how much I will need to spend on materials. After that, I will need to figure out and decide whether I will need to hire someone to lay and connect the pipes, or whether I can do it myself. I plan on excavating the 6 foot trench myself. There is a driveway in my way, but the guy at the rental place said that people often spare the driveway from being ripped apart by going underneath it. He said forcing a pipe through the ground and then following it up with the water pipe should be sufficient. If not, I can also probably rent a bore.

Then, I will leave the connecting of all the water pipes to the skilled professionals and the cleanup to me and my parents.

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Re: help with new water mains at home

Postby gyre » Sat Jul 02, 2011 12:18 pm

Ygmir cautions to be sure you are aware of the quirks and difficulties of any heavy machinery, when it hangs up, dangers etc.

And to be sure of what is buried where.


I have never heard of a city requiring anything like this.
It is normal to connect at your expense, though in a case like this, the city normally does this relocation part.

Normally it is left to the homeowner to decide when to upgrade.
How will they know if you don't replace the pipe?
Does it even need changing?

The flex gas pipe is usable for water.
I checked once.
Still have a hunk of it.
Connectors are expensive.

Unless you need to replace everything, I would lean to making the connection properly and letting it go at that.
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Re: help with new water mains at home

Postby gyre » Sat Jul 02, 2011 12:21 pm

Bin Noddin wrote:Galvanized pipe can corrode on the inside, gradually impeding flow. We replaced the lines in my house with copper and the old iron pipes were clogged like my arteries. Interestingly, this was only true for the water lines under high pressure, while the iron pipes circulating from the boiler to the radiators under low pressure were not corroded at all and left in place.

I have heard of iron pipe being cleaned out at the outlets, of scale.
Seemed to work.
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