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Thread: Thawing water pipes

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    Default Thawing water pipes

    My friend just called me, he works for the city water department and he's trying to thaw a water pipe running 100 feet under the road with a 200amp generator welder.

    Anyway, they want info on who actually makes a machine for this purpose. I doubt price is an issue. Speed and reliability. I really only know of the smaller ones like the ice-buster 350. And I doubt they want to get a bigger generator/welder, they are running at 175a AC right now for over 2 hours and the pipe is still frozen. I think is about 10* here today... was 6* yesterday.

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    Two hours is nothing; I spent something like six thawing a pipe in my house a few weeks ago.

    The biggest problem I had was getting a high enough capacity wire to reach the far end of the pipe. Initially the wire was getting hot, in other words most of the electrical energy I was putting in was being dissipated in the wire. The pipe was copper as well which didn't help being a good conductor.

    Tell your friend patience is a virtue.

    An open mind is a virtue...so long as all the common sense has not leaked out.


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    He works for the city, of course he's more than happy to stand around and get paid good money to do nothing, problem is quite a few people are out of water, he's in the industrial part of town today.

    I told him for now call the local welding shop and get a 500 amp machine on site. Something will thaw



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    Quote Originally Posted by mc-motorsports View Post
    ......get a 500 amp machine on site. Something will thaw
    Hope it is not the metal of the pipe itself.

    I have always been dubious about thawing pipes this way because if you have a localised high resistance somewhere along the pipe, at a joint for instance, I worry you could get localized heating to a very high temperature.

    An open mind is a virtue...so long as all the common sense has not leaked out.


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    It's been 8 hours now, they are still there

    But they did dig up the waterline to shorten up the lead placement, they went from 100 feet to 40 feet. With a 200 amp welder, they are going to be there until the ground thaws because the weather lets up and the temperature outside goes up.



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    Quote Originally Posted by mc-motorsports View Post
    .... they did dig up the waterline.... they are going to be there until the ground thaws because the weather lets up and the temperature outside goes up.
    I agree 8 hours is longer than 6. Maybe now they will bury the pipes deep enough in the future, or maybe they figured it wasn't needed any more with all the hype about "Global Warming".

    An open mind is a virtue...so long as all the common sense has not leaked out.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Geof View Post
    I agree 8 hours is longer than 6. Maybe now they will bury the pipes deep enough in the future, or maybe they figured it wasn't needed any more with all the hype about "Global Warming".
    Something like that. Our code is 42" below grade, it's not normal for us to be this cold for this long.

    I'm on my way out there now, they aren't sure if the welder is working or not...



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    Welder is too small, end of story.

    The one guy keeps saying, "this only used to take 10 minutes with our old welder."
    I said "what kind of welder was it? Who made it, how many amps?"
    He says "an old Hobart, I don't know how many amps it was."
    I said "they haven't made commercial welders with the Hobart name on them since they merged with Miller, had to be an old one? Probably pretty decent sized?"
    He says, "oh yea, it was a 1982, mounted on it's own trailer and had a 4 cylinder Ford spinning the generator."
    I said "yeah, that was probably a 600 amp welder, you could lock leads with your little 200a Lincoln over there and watch that Lincoln melt. You'll never thaw that pipe in this weather with that little welder."

    Then the guy looks at me and says "I'm starting to think that welder is too small for this." My friends says "MC's been telling us that since noon!" And I said it's time for me to go.

    I thought city people stand around and do nothing and get paid for it bacause they can. I guess where I live, it's because the people in charge are thick headed.



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    And for anyone who would reference this thread in the future, this is what I come up with:
    http://news.thomasnet.com/fullstory/551564
    http://www.plumbingsupply.com/hot-sh...g-machine.html

    And some good reading for anyone who wants to use a welder to thaw pipes, straight from Lincoln: http://www.alaska.edu/uaf/cem/ine/au..._TRC_94_20.pdf
    See page 22 of the .PDF



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