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  1. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Milan Michigan
    Posts
    1,677

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    Hey there Lake, When ever I thawed pipes in the past, I have a water key put down out front at the road, I then went inside the house and hook to the pipe as it enters the house.

    I totally agree don't hook onto the pipe just anywhere in the house because electricity might hop on a ground wire inside the house inside the wall, So I get that, That's a no brainer for me.

    However, I never thought about the possibility of plastic being added, So now the electricity goes out to the pipe in the road, over to the neighbors, runs through the neighbors water pipe, takes the path of least resistance which turns out to be a wire ground in the wall goes outside up on the telephone pole down into the house you are trying to thaw water for in the first place, then catches a ground wire in that house and then down to the welding cable making it possible to burn down 2 houses.

    I think that's what your trying to say.

    I'm pretty sure that it would be pretty unusual but its nice to know what could happen, I will go back and read some more about checking the ohms, Thanks for every ones input.

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Posts
    16

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Portable Welder View Post
    Hey there Lake, When ever I thawed pipes in the past, I have a water key put down out front at the road, I then went inside the house and hook to the pipe as it enters the house.

    I totally agree don't hook onto the pipe just anywhere in the house because electricity might hop on a ground wire inside the house inside the wall, So I get that, That's a no brainer for me.

    However, I never thought about the possibility of plastic being added, So now the electricity goes out to the pipe in the road, over to the neighbors, runs through the neighbors water pipe, takes the path of least resistance which turns out to be a wire ground in the wall goes outside up on the telephone pole down into the house you are trying to thaw water for in the first place, then catches a ground wire in that house and then down to the welding cable making it possible to burn down 2 houses.


    Portable,
    Yes, if the line was ever repaired with anything that would break the continuity between your stinger and ground connections to the pipe, that high amperage goes through the electrical grounding system that is generally tied to the water system. 300 amps through a #12 or 14 wire can be spectacular!. In more rural areas, using a welder to thaw a line is pretty safe because there is less utility work going on to compromise the water service lines into a home. Unless you have x-ray vision, you cannot safely assume that the amps you put into a service line is going where you think it should. That's why I always use an Ohmmeter to check for continuity before the welder is energized. I could go on for hours with stories of flamed houses, burned up welders, whiney home owners, etc. Seems like every winter, every guy with a welding machine comes out to do pipe thawing work around here. And every winter I read of multiple fires or water damage caused by someone carelessness. Hope you have a safe go at it!
    Lake



    I think that's what your trying to say.

    I'm pretty sure that it would be pretty unusual but its nice to know what could happen, I will go back and read some more about checking the ohms, Thanks for every ones input.
    Yep, that's right.
    Lake

  3. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    16919 Pole Rd. Brethren, MI 49619
    Posts
    4,376

    Default

    Even a hi resistance joint can cause a problem. If I can I isolate one end of the incoming pipe. I don't really like to do it,, did one Monday morn though, one I have done in the past. Yes,, your ins co will not like this idea one bit.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  4. #14
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    16919 Pole Rd. Brethren, MI 49619
    Posts
    4,376

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    I grabbed my meter the other day. I left the machine set to burn a 1/8 lo hi and at a dead short was 163A. The actual current maybe 25% more than the dial setting. Get a DC amp meter, Lincoln used to make one that hooked in line with the lead but I would and do use my machines to thaw, just don't cook it. On a 100% machine about 70% or so on the settings.

    I was going to play with the fine and the meter but I was in a hurry and wanted a coffee.

  5. #15
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    16919 Pole Rd. Brethren, MI 49619
    Posts
    4,376

    Default

    Hey,,, did you ever get pressure washer? That was a good idea.

  6. #16
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    PA
    Posts
    346

    Default

    Did a small section (about 20 ft) of a neighbor's 1/2" copper water line in their garage 2 weeks ago during the ice storm and power outage.
    They had a 120 volt generator to run their fridge and a space heater and a few lights.

    Used my LMSW-52 spot welder. Miller Rocks !
    I dragged over my 7500 watt generator and plugged the spot welder into the 220 v outlet.
    Brought along the 50 ft stick cables.

    Opened the outdoor spigot first and connected the electrode cable to it using a vice grip.

    Held the spot welder switch down for about 20 sec and then waited for 1 minute.
    Ground clamp was moved about 1 ft at a time toward the warm part of the house.
    Felt the tongs and copper lines to make sure they weren't getting too hot to touch.
    With copper sweat connections, I didn't want to make more problems for my neighbor.
    Took us about 3 hours and 12 beers as we were not in a hurry.
    We had beer, VCR (what's a VCR?) and a small tv in the garage with us.
    Life is good.

    Luckily the water line was run on the garage ceiling and was exposed so
    we had complete access to the entire length.
    Garage is normally heated but they were out of power for about 9 hours
    before they got their generator.

    They were smart and turned off the water inside the house so the garage was isolated.
    Small split and leak in the copper line before they turned the water off.
    Will insulate lines the lines in the spring.

    All turned out well and we got to meet more of our neighbors
    who wandered by as we were doing this.

    Wonder what they thought of us in lawn chairs drinking beer in the driveway.

    I know this won't work for larger and longer pipes but sometimes you luck out.
    Thermal Arc GTSW400, Airco Heliwelder II, Miller Dynasty 350, Hypertherm 1000, oxy-fuel setup, metal cutting bandsaw, air compressor, drill press, etc.:

    Call me the "Clouseau" of welding !

  7. #17
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Los Angeles
    Posts
    2,831

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    What is this "Frozen Pipe" you talk about?

    Ed Conley
    http://www.screamingbroccoli.net/
    MM252
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  8. #18
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    At the epicenter of the Green Mountain Range in VT
    Posts
    251

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    Quote Originally Posted by Broccoli1 View Post
    What is this "Frozen Pipe" you talk about?

    As a native Vermonter I am able to say you are hilarious!

  9. #19
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Posts
    2,983

    Smile

    Quote Originally Posted by Willie B View Post
    As a native Vermonter I am able to say you are hilarious!
    Not too many slate house foundations in Los Angeles...
    .

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  10. #20
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    At the epicenter of the Green Mountain Range in VT
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    251

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    in 1996 the federal government pressured the people in my little two town water system to accept the gift of matching funds for a new water system. At that time ditches on the opposite side of the road were dug installing new plastic trunk line. Nearly all home drop lines in town were galvanized. To some homes drop lines were shortened to the new main, those on the other side of the street were lengthened to reach. In all cases 3/4" K copper was used to connect. Those I had influence with got a cable from the saddle where it joined the main. The contractor used a compression sleeve with rubber seals.
    Prior to that I used my Twentieth Century 295 Amp AC. I disconnected the ground wire to the water supply, separated the pipe at the pressure reducing valve and turned on the welder at a low (70 amp) setting. After 15 minutes, if it wasn't flowing, I would turn it up to 100. This was successful on 100% of frozen pipes.
    My competitor, an old farmer did not separate pipe from supply or disconnect ground cable, often he damaged things. I suspect he was less careful with amperage.
    We now use a length of 1/4" "pex" (cross linked polyethylene), It is stiff and pushes easily down the inside of a pipe. Once we start a siphon from a bucket on the first floor, someone starts a bucket brigade from the neighbor's with warm water. Up to 75 feet are easily thawed this way.

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