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How deep to place plumbing

Posted by katefisher (My Page) on
Mon, Apr 7, 08 at 9:09

My question is about a water line in our backyard. Apparently it broke/froze over the winter and on Saturday my husband dug up where the pipe originates (near the house) and where it ends on the far side of the back yard. He concluded that the pipe had broken somewhere between those two points and unless I wanted to dig a new trench the faucet out at the end of the yard (which I used to water a flower bed, trees and my vegetable garden) must be abandoned. He went ahead and cut and capped the line where it is located near the house until a decision could be reached about whether a new line would be ran out to my faucet in the yard. Hope this makes sense.

I really need that faucet out back. I use it constantly during the summer. Question being if I decide to dig the trench to run the line from A to B how deep does it have to be? We generally don't get much colder than 20 degrees out during the winter. I'm trying to work out if the digging is something I can do myself or must hire someone.

Thank you. Sorry kinda long.

Kate


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: How deep to place plumbing

Kate,

You can verify with your local building inspections department, the frost depth and required cover over water lines, this is the most accurate. You can rent a trenching machine which is gas powered, walk behind, adjustable depth, power driven and easy to use, but you need to first call your local "One call" service that will come out and mark all your buried utilities so you don't accidently run into one of them.

The easy way out can be bought at the big box home improvement stores. Look in the Garden department for a hose bibb mounted on a hose holder. You can simply install this post mounted faucet where you want, and run a garden hose on top of the ground to the faucet. If you want a more permanent solution, you can bury a PVC line out to the faucet at a minimum depth of 12"-18", but you would need to blowout the underground piping with a compressor for the winter to prevent freezing.

Hope that helps,

Dan Martyn


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RE: How deep to place plumbing

Dan:

Well that was one very informative and helpful answer! I think I would like to explore the portable trenching machine option. I'm such a simpleton I had no idea such a thing existed.

Your suggestion of mounting or staking a hose bib is a good one but because of how far it is from where the water originates to the other faucet and my flower/veggie gardens I think that would drive me nuts to drag hoses all summer.

Extremely helpful Dan thank you.

Kate


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RE: How deep to place plumbing

My question is about a water line in our backyard. Apparently it broke/froze over the winter and on Saturday my husband dug up where the pipe originates (near the house) and where it ends on the far side of the back yard. He concluded that the pipe had broken somewhere between those two points and unless I wanted to dig a new trench the faucet out at the end of the yard (which I used to water a flower bed, trees and my vegetable garden) must be abandoned. He went ahead and cut and capped the line where it is located near the house until a decision could be reached about whether a new line would be ran out to my faucet in the yard. Hope this makes sense.
I really need that faucet out back. I use it constantly during the summer. Question being if I decide to dig the trench to run the line from A to B how deep does it have to be? We generally don't get much colder than 20 degrees out during the winter. I'm trying to work out if the digging is something I can do myself or must hire someone.
Thank you. Sorry kinda long.

The average frost depth is the deepest level at which freezing will normally occur in a given region. There is no hard and fast rule about frost depth in relation to the average winter temperatures because the frost depth is slightly influenced by the type of soil or the average amount of moisture in the soil, however if you will contact your local building department or any local plumber they should be able to tell you the average frost depth for your location. (Hint, while you are contacting the building dept or a plumber about the frost depth also ask them for the telephone number for your local "One Call" service)
To prevent freezing the plumbing codes require that all water lines must be buried a minimum of 6" below the average frost depth. (You definitely need to confirm the frost depth but as an "educated guess" I would estimate your burial depth would be approximately 24 30")

As Dan Martin already pointed out, you are required by law to contact "One Call" before you commence any digging. One Call is a free service that will come out and mark the location of any commercial utility lines that run under your property. They may or may not mark the location of your house water main, gas main, house sewer (the buried line from your house to the municipal sewer main), buried electrical cables and cable TV or telephone cables. Caution; if you have a septic tank, they will not mark the location of your house sewer line to the septic tank or the location of the leach field lines.

Do not take this lightly; One Call is a free service (paid for by the commercial utility companies). If you fail to call for the service you can be held both criminally and civilly liable for any damage to the buried lines or any property damage that results from damaging a line. Also, Do not be fooled into thinking you dont need to call because all your utility lines run in front of the house and you are in the back yard. As an example, all my utility lines are in the front, however there is a commercial 4" high-pressure gas line that bi-sects a corner of my backyard.

If the length of your line is exceptionally long you could opt to rent a trencher however, you stated that you are an avid gardener therefore I am assuming that you are in fairly good health and no stranger to the operation of a shovel, therefore the choice between hand digging or renting a trencher is purely a judgment call on your part.

You must remember that any portion of your line that extends above the frost depth is subject to freezing. I would strongly suggest you terminate your line at the garden with a "Lawn Hydrant valve" You may have seen these at your local nursery and never really noticed. A lawn hydrant has a vertical standpipe faucet with a large D ring handle on top. The D handle is then connected to an actuator rod that extends down to the actual valve mechanism at the base of the standpipe, well below the frost line. When the hydrant is installed we generally backfill the riser with pea gravel. To turn the water on you swing the D-ring handle upwards. When the handle is swung back down to the off position it turns the water off and opens a small port at the base of the standpipe that allows the water in the standpipe to drain back down into the pea gravel, thus there is no water in the riser that could freeze. (Hydrant valves are commonly seen in livestock or horse barns).

The feed point end of your line should enter the house below grade at the recommended burial depth

You should also know that the code requires you to install a "Backflow preventer" on the end of the line where it attaches to the house potable water system. (Some codes require a vacuum breaker).

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RE: How deep to place plumbing

The California "One Call" or "Call Before You Dig" Utility Marking Service is 1-800-227-2600.

If anyone else needs a local phone number for your utility marking Service, I have a list of 50 states and Canada.


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