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Thread: Pipe Thawing

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Central NY
    Posts
    264

    Pipe Thawing

    OK,maybe a dumb question here from somebody already in the biz but what is the correct procedure for using an arc welder to thaw pipes out?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Appleton, Wi
    Posts
    28
    Arc Burn, the correct procedure is not to do it. I know people that do it in Canada and the first thing they do is get a million dollar liability insurance policy, cause it only takes one poor connection to have a large bon-fire( and permanently thawed pipes). But like I said we at Miller/Hobart do not recommend it.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Central MI
    Posts
    82

    Exclamation

    Miller/Hobart may not want themselves involved with thawing pipes but Lincoln Electric apparently does. They have a technical bulletin entitled “Thawing Frozen Water Pipes E695.1”. The bulletin describes the actual thawing procedures using a product of theirs called a “Linc-Thaw”.

    In addition, many types of industries have used and continue to use Miller, Hobart, and Lincoln welding equipment at their plant sites to thaw frozen water, steam, caustic, etc. lines. In most cases, the plants themselves will develop their own thawing procedures independent of the welding equipment manufacturers or in the case of Lincoln equipment, incorporate it.

    Regardless of procedures, circumstances, or equipment, liability insurance is an absolute necessity.
    There's no such thing as a welding problem, there are only welding puzzles of assorted sizes!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    San Diego, CA
    Posts
    7,700
    Welcome to the forum, Seldom....your input is always welcome...there's new folks and even us old folks that can benefit from your experience.
    Arcin' and sparkin', Rocky D <><
    Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.
    IF YOU CAN READ THIS, THANK A TEACHER...
    IF YOU'RE READING THIS IN ENGLISH, THANK A SOLDIER!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Brethren, Mi
    Posts
    11,417
    I do thaw pipes with welding machines but it really takes some understanding of electric systems to do it safely and I do have the bulliten from Lincoln but it really doesnt describe the problems and is merely a time/heat guideline. Most problems occur on city water systems which have several buildings on the same electric transformer. The main entrance to a home,, lets use this as an example,, has the panel bonded to the electric system. In this case, using an insulated tool I unbond the electric before I hook the machine to it. Because it is bonded and if there is a high resisance joint in the pipe you are trying to thaw the welding machine current may route via the neutral wire and then thru the ground bond in the neighbors house back to the water system. If it is a number 6 wire lets say running in a wall or wood it would become easily overheated by high welding currents and turned red hot, possibly in the wall of a neighbors home and a fire occurs. A DC amp probe would be of help for this, but they were not available when the first Lincthaw bulliten was out, so they wanted to sell a DC amp meter so you could keep an eye on actual current flow. I can tell somewhat by the machine sounds but often use a machine with AC and just use a clamp on meter to check too. Start slow untill you are sure of the condition of the pipeline,,, most proplems are with steel with threaded couplings that become corroded. Actually steel thaws better than copper but rolled copper doesnt have joints to fail. The resistance heated pipe causes a fine film of water to thaw and allows flow past around the ice plug. Water pressure on the line is a must and once a bit of flow starts again it melts the plug. And,,,, Yes,, no ins company wants to insure for this. And if the truth be known they are no help in education about why the problems occur and lots of operators dont really know how to do it proper, so that doesnt help matters either. And remember, this isnt as much of an instruction,,, just a general theory.
    Last edited by Sberry; 05-22-2003 at 11:19 PM.

  6. #6
    Roger Guest
    It doen't work on my white water pipe.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    MA
    Posts
    445
    We do it all the time, only we use a General Thaw unit, it is designed just to thaw water lines.

    110 volt unit with 320 amps and very little volts.

    They make a couple of units that are both bigger and smaller than our however they work great.

    Bernie

  8. #8
    Hobart Expert Rock Guest
    HI SHELDON.............WELCOME ABOARD.........I CONCURE WITH SCOTTH MILLER/HOBARTS WILL NOT RECOMMEND IT.......... YEARS AGO HOBARTS ACTUALLY MADE A PIPE THAWING PIECE OF EQUIPMENT.......... WAY TO MANY LIABILITY ISSUES WITH IT.... WELL WE KNOW PEOPLE DO IT.............. BUT IT IS TOTALLY HAZERDOUS........... CONSIDER THIS IF I'M THAWING OUT MY NEIGHBORS PIPES WITH 400 AMPS AND MY KIDS ARE DOWN THE STREET SWINGING ON MY OTHER NEIGHBORS METAL WATER PIPES............. 400 AMPS AT WHAT EVER VOLTAGE WILL NOT BE A GOOD THING.................. OR GETTING A GLASS OF WATER FROM THE SINK..............JUST THINKING SAFETY HERE.........CONSIDER THIS WHY DO YOU THINK THE WATER PIPES ARE NOT GOOD GROUNDS IN YOUR HOMES... THEY REQUIRE YOU TO USE A 8' GROUND ROD NOW..........................................ROCK. ..
    SSCOTT@MILLERWELDS.COM

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Brethren, Mi
    Posts
    11,417
    I see how confusion gets started so easily. Miller/Hobart doest recommend it because of liability and there isnt enough money in it to make it worth their while. If they thought they were going to sell some machines for it they would. You prove a point I made earlier,, that most dont know how to do it and that is what makes it dangerous. You are probably not sposed to thaw your residential water pipe with 400A. Second, the hazard isnt with electrocution, its with starting fires. Now we can get someone as well respected as yourself say something that may be only partially correct and it can get taken as gospel and that starts the rumor mill. Incoming water pipes are intended to be the primary grounding electrode for the electric system and are required to be used for that and a ground rod is only suplimental, one reason is that in case of disconnection of the water pipe there is still an electrode in the ground. The grounding electrode system is not for clearing shorts,, only the ground wire back to the service entrance and hence back to the transformer is for that. There are stray voltages with potentials much higher than welding currents in the ground all the time, thats one of the reasons for the rods. We dont want to use water pipes to ground equipment for a couple of reasons,, 1, is that there is no good reaso to subject the piping system and anyone in contact with it to voltage from a fault,, and second, is that it makes for a round about path instead of a DIRECT PATH back to the panel. Thawing piping with machines isnt inheriantly dangerous,, careless thawing is dangerous,, just as smoking causes house fires, not really, its careless smoking, or driving, its careless driving or human error that causes accidents.
    Last edited by Sberry; 05-23-2003 at 10:54 AM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    upstate NY
    Posts
    9

    pipe thawing

    There is a short chapter on the subject of pipe thawing in the Lincoln "Procedure Handbook of lArc Welding", might answer some of the questions.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Greenville,Oh
    Posts
    5
    Rock's right about Hobart used to make pipe thawers, I used one when I worked at Hobart Brothers to solder lugs onto the ends of battery charger cables. It was a set of tongs with carbon insert on the end of the tongs and then leads going to the unit. I used up to when I quit in 2000.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Posts
    912
    Originally posted by Seldom
    ”.

    <snip>
    In addition, many types of industries have used and continue to use Miller, Hobart, and Lincoln welding equipment at their plant sites to thaw frozen water, steam, caustic, etc. lines. .
    <snip>

    [/B]
    Frozen steam line? Wow, that's a new one on me. Is that steam pretty heavy when it freezes? <g>

    JTMcC.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    ohio
    Posts
    630
    Gentlemen, you not only need to worry about corroded pipe joints which don't make good electrical conductors but in todays plumbing there is a lot of plastic pipe used. One insulator (plastic pipe section) in your circuit and the weld current back feeds through the best path it can find usually the electrical panel ground.

    unless you know for a fact that the pipe between the electrode and ground cables is a continous run of copper or steel pipe don't even think about it.
    DrIQ

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Posts
    21

    my pipe thawing procedure

    when I did pipe thawing I would always remove the water meter and any grounds on the pipe going out. and connect my leads to the pipe going out and the closest fire hydrant In this way you elimenate any ground problems within the house you are working on, but maby not a neighbours house.I never did thawing inside the house with a welder. Almost every call for pipe thawing, the problem was in the street, driveway or sidewalk were snow cover was removed.If anyone knows a better way or a safer way please advise as this was a easy way to make money just hook the leads and wait for the water. A question to anyone who might know the answer. I presently have a 250 amp welder when I use it to thaw pipe the volts drop to less then 5 and amps go up a little over 300. If I were to use two thawing machines pluged into the same welder 115v plugs I can get 600 amps by ganging them. WHY

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    marin co. ca.
    Posts
    2,150

    Angry asked some questions at weld forum

    jimmy dee wrote he got a call at a city building where they had cooked either the neutral or ground. he replaced the whole 100 amp panel? thawing pipes

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