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Lead water pipe replacement

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  • Lead water pipe replacement

    City of Flint.
    The street here has been closed today to start the lead pipe service line replacement.
    Even though the service lines are house owner property, they are being replaced by city.
    I will try to get some photos as the job progresses while respecting the workers identity.

    Apparently, the lack of records of which houses have lead service is a problem.
    Copper lines will not be replaced.
    The contractors liason person told me that they are trying a new water drill to help identify.
    Here it is:

    About 15 years ago, i replaced most of the internal house lines with copper using lead free solder.
    The water samples taken in the kitchen are at or slightly above the EPA reporting level of 0.001 milligram per litre.

    I did not replace all of the short galvanized runs to external hose bibs and to the basement sink that I now use as a darkroom.
    The sink measured at 0.67 milligram per litre, (670 time limit) and one hose bib measured 1.07 (1000 times)

    I have been told that all internal pipes with high readings have to be replaced.
    In addition, all faucets sets ( good or not) will be replaced with brand name builder standard units.
    The external hose bibs have to comply because there is a remote chance a child will drink from a hose.
    This house, built 1926, has been inspected using X Ray Fluoroscopy, and has lead under most painted surfaces.
    Last edited by wombat2go; 07-20-2017, 11:19 AM.

  • #2
    Some local service lines are lead here in Nebraska. Ours is copper. The neighboring business had a lead line and they dug a hole by the building and at the main line and used the old lead pipe to pull the new plastic one in.


    • #3
      Hi Mike,
      I think the lines have to be metallic here due to the antiquated 4160V residential electric supply.
      The ground is a combo of 4160 V return, 120 V safety ground and the split 240V tap.
      A wire for these runs along under the power line, and at each house is connected to the cold water pipe
      Here is a ground strap around the (now plastic) water meter connecting cold water line to the service line.

      Even though it is a multiple ground path, I hope the electric supply is turned off before the workers touch the pipes.

      Are the lead lines being all replaced in Nebraska? Who pays?


      • #4
        In our town, the individual water customer pays the repair. They are not required to replace the lead lines......just that the neighboring business had a leak in their line so they replaced it. I think that it was $3500 to dig the access holes and replace the line and replace the concrete in the sidewalk and street.


        • #5
          The job was done today.
          The contractors did 6 houses in a day, except the street is still ripped up.
          Aim is 6000 Houses/year . I am not sure how many crews.
          The line to this house was proven to be copper on both ends.

          The city side line from the main under the street to the shutoff valve on the sidewalk was lead and was replaced by the pull through method.


          • #6
            I recall a section of video that ran repeatedly on ABC 12 News showing a service replacement. The service was changed to copper up to the water box valve at the curb, but there was the section of pipe on the other side of the valve, between the valve and the main, that appeared to be older and possibly lead, and presumably not being replaced. I fear that some "Expert" has made the judgement that the short section of lead pipe was a lower percentage and an acceptable risk. Certainly hope I am mistaken.

            I come from an excavating family that installed a lot of water mains in some neighborhoods in Flint and neighboring Burton in the mid-sixties, and am intimately familiar with the pipe materials and methods. No lead was involved at that time, ductile iron mains with neoprene seals at the bell-and-spigot joints between the lengths of pipe and Neoprene sealed compression joints at tees and hydrants.

            The services were drilled and tapped into the pressurized mains with a clever water lock chamber that incorporated a big ball valve and a wrench-turned drill-tap (NPT) spindle that worked through a gland: the chamber with a rubber seal would be clamped onto the main with a chain, the ball valve opened and the spindle extended through the ball to drill and tap the hole, and then withdrawn and the ball valve closed. The spindle would be removed from the chamber and replaced with a similar spindle with a service valve screwed onto the end. The ball valve was then opened and the service valve spindle extended through the ball and the service valve screwed into the newly-threaded hole. The whole contraption was then removed, leaving the service valve behind, maybe leaking a little from the threads, to be wrenched to full engagement and valve stem position.

            I am hoping that the video clip I mentioned above was only half the story and that the crews replaced the lead line between the valve box at the curb and the valve on the main in the middle of the street or across the street as a second step.

            It appears from the pictures wombat posted that they did things right.
            Weston Bye - Author, The Mechatronist column, Digital Machinist magazine
            ~Practitioner of the Electromechanical Arts~


            • #7
              That is actually a directional boring machine. It is commonly used by telephone and gas utilities to go under roads and other areas where trenching is not allowed. The biggest cost associated with burying things in the ground is the restoration afterwards. This machine is used with a boring head that has a transmitter in it and a receiver the follows along on the surface. The boring head has a slightly angled paddle and when the want to change direction, they get the paddle positioned so that when the do a straight push, the boring rod turns. They can go up, down , left, and right. the receiver gives information on not only location, but also depth. They can dip down under a known obstruction or around one. The readout on the front of the machine tells the operator, the orientation of the boring head so he can control the direction it goes when he pushes it.
              Grantham, New Hampshire


              • #8
                How much percentage of lead is lead pipe ?


                • #9
                  The lead service pipes were just that - Lead. Perhaps alloyed slightly with other metals and calcium for strength, but mostly lead.
                  Weston Bye - Author, The Mechatronist column, Digital Machinist magazine
                  ~Practitioner of the Electromechanical Arts~


                  • #10
                    So like of you drove over it with a car it would flatten?


                    • #11
                      Weston Bye - Author, The Mechatronist column, Digital Machinist magazine
                      ~Practitioner of the Electromechanical Arts~


                      • #12
                        I guess eating all those paint chips as a kid was a bad idea afterall
                        san jose, ca. usa


                        • #13
                          On the plus side, it builds up your immunity to radiation.


                          • #14
                            The lead pipe at my neighboring business (from what I recall) was about an inch and a quarter in diameter and had a center hole through the middle that was about three-quarters of an inch. I would guess the wall thickness was somewhere around a quarter of an inch. Not a very efficient use of the metal.
                            Last edited by mikem; 07-22-2017, 07:57 AM.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by 754 View Post
                              How much percentage of lead is lead pipe ?
                              All lead used for pipe was 100% pure lead in Wisconsin (well maybe 99.95%, the intent was to use pure lead). The lead that was sold in ingots was required to be pure as well. If you start adding tin, the primary intended alloying agent, the lead becomes less ductile and harder to use.

                              When I took my apprenticeship in 1968 our classes included lead wiping, a means of joining lead pipes with solder that was literally wiped around the ends of the lead pipes to from a ball that joined the pipes. The same method was used in Roman times I would suspect. The practice is still used to fill areas on auto body’s today in custom shops. I have never made a lead joint in my entire career, we use compression couplings to join copper to lead where required.

                              The dangers of lead piping vary from region to region as does the water. Parts of the country that use surface water, which may be more acidic, are more susceptible to dissolving the lead. In my area, most of the water is either from Lake Michigan, typically around a pH of 7.7
                              My local water is sourced from deep wells in the limestone strata, a pH of around 8.3 or so. The hard alkaline water forms deposits on the inside of water lines, and when that happens on lead it slows the rate the water can dissolve the metal that is contained in. Acidic water can dissolve copper as well as lead.

                              Most of the areas around here use either cast iron or ductile iron service mains which are often lined with a cement coating. The cement lining is in turn coated with a layer of tar. Since the late 60's the mains are then wrapped with a double layer of polyethylene 'bags' to prevent corrosion when the are installed.

                              BTW, the wrapping certainly does not improve the electrical grounding properties of the water mains. The current best practice of using Class 900 PVC water mains obviously does nothing for the grounding situation.

                              I have no knowledge of wombat2go's observation re the 4160 distribution system and grounding, but it is very important to verify if there is a ground jumper across the meter in your home. There are what are called meter horns that are designed to mechanically provide that continuous ground. The potential for electrocution is the reason that the building ground that is tied to the water system is required to be on the street side of the meter by our local codes. That may well be the same everywhere. It makes cutting the water lines inside the house much less dangerous.

                              RE 742's question about flattening lead pipes. Water lines up to prolly 1" or perhaps 1-1/4" would not be crushed, the pipe walls were quite thick. In the larger sizes around 1/4" or so.

                              Lead waste pipes, which are still in place in many of the pre-war homes would be flattened quite easily. It's all about the size to diameter ratio.

                              All in all, lead is more suited to bullets than pipe in my world.

                              from a (retired for 8 years served for 42) Master plumber.
                              When asked if I miss working all I can say is I miss the folks I worked with, so no... I don't miss working :>)
                              ARS W9PCS

                              Esto Vigilans

                              Remember, just because you can doesn't mean you should...
                              but you may have to