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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So my town has like 40 houses where they have installed what they call "drippers" its really just a 1/4" valve and an icemaker line run to a drain. Just installed before the meter and it's purpose is to have constant flow in the main waterline comingbin to the house so that it won't freeze in the ground in the winter time.

It seems they have copper icemaker line and some people open it up all the way all winter long this has created issues with pinhole leaks in the icemaker line. They want it replaced with plastic instead. My problem is that I also see pinhole leaks in plastic icemaker lines so I want something better that won't make pinholes from the constant flow. I was thinking up it and go 1/2" pex but when people open it themselves I don't want such a big pipe.

Does anyone know of eihter a better 1/4" pipe to use or a valve that will only open enough to make a constant drip?


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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Is this because the incoming lines are above the frost line?
Yes. It's North West Minnesota so water lines has to be ay keast 7' down but they have spots in thus town where the lines are up higher or where the city tap came off the top with soft copper and made a nice high loop to bend it and go back down so there are houses where it will freeze if they don't have a small constant moving of the the water in the line

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
People are told when to open them up and when to close them down. The problem is that is is really just needing to be a steady drip yet people open it up most of the way so that poor little copper icemaker line gets so much flow over the winter that it starts to make pinholes. I'm thinking there has to be some sort of flow restrictor I can install after the valve so insure its only a drip which would then put much less wear and tear on the line.

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The city leveled the road in front of my in-laws house 30 some years ago. Every winter they have to keep a faucet trickling. They get an estimated bill, but if their line freezes, they pay to thaw.

Their house is is cpvc. I’ve been wanting to run pex for years, but there hasn’t been any issues.
Maybe run 3/4“ pvc like a HVAC condensate line?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
The city leveled the road in front of my in-laws house 30 some years ago. Every winter they have to keep a faucet trickling. They get an estimated bill, but if their line freezes, they pay to thaw.

Their house is is cpvc. I’ve been wanting to run pex for years, but there hasn’t been any issues.
Maybe run 3/4“ pvc like a HVAC condensate line?
If anything it would be 1/2" pex but when told that people open up the 3/8" valve most of the way open I am thinking that I need to forcefully slow it down to a drip after the valve as I'm sure all that extra flow is actually what is wearing out the pipe so fast.

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Trap primmer wouldn’t do the job. I’ll have to think about it. Can you get 1/4 in K? I’ve never seen it….
No a trap primer would nit work as it has to be constant flow and nit just when a faucet is opened. I'm kind of thinking of replacing the copper line with the heavy plastic line you see on reverse osmosis systems under sinks and then this push on flow restrictor on the line so no matter if people open up the valve all the way it will still only let about 50 gallon a day through. It would be the heavy plastic line and not the flimsy icemaker line you normally see

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......... I'm thinking there has to be some sort of flow restrictor I can install after the valve so insure its only a drip which would then put much less wear and tear on the line.
............
The problem with flow restrictions is you tend to get mineral/rust buildup which will close your orifice. Proper flow restrictors have a special rubber disc that can move just enough with pressure fluctuations so the mineral clumps break off. I agree you should use a proper flow restrictor.

Or you could put in a smaller valve. Or make something you can attach to the handle so it can't be opened all the way. Or add a second ball valve, shut it off drill a small hole through the ball in the valve, then take the handle off.
 

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Is the “dripper” installed before the water meter?
So the used/dripped watered isn’t charged as used water to the home owner?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
they make pex icemaker line
I'm aware as yhat would be the heavier version I talked about and not the crappy poly icemaker line. I just didn't refer to it as pex as it does not use normal style pex fittings and is normally only used for icemaker or reverse osmosis systems. I was asking about mostly a foolproof longterm way to reduce the flow and possibly if there was any suggestions on another type of piping that would be better

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Could you install 2 valves:
one as the “on/off” for winter/summer,
and one to restrict the flow to a drip/trickle- then remove the handle, so it couldn’t be confused or adjusted easily?
I know this sounds crud, but in a few situations we’ve done this as “trap seal primer”
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Could you install 2 valves:
one as the “on/off” for winter/summer,
and one to restrict the flow to a drip/trickle- then remove the handle, so it couldn’t be confused or adjusted easily?
I know this sounds crud, but in a few situations we’ve done this as “trap seal primer”
Potentially yes but I have a feeling people would mess with it anyways. That's why I was looking for something more foolproof

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Potentially yes but I have a feeling people would mess with it anyways. That's why I was looking for something more foolproof

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Idk, at this point I would just accept the fact, that nothing last for ever, and it is what it is, as in it’s another service call..
How often are you replacing the 1/4” copper tube?
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
At this point I would just accept that fact and the fact that nothing last for ever, and it is what it is, as in it’s another service call.
How often are you replacing the 1/4” copper tube?
I know nothing is forever. But if I suspect that the excessive flow over what is actually needed is causing pinholes then I should try and solve that problem. I don't know how often it has been a problem. Another plumber installed them all at some point in time and they have seen several cases of pinholes in the 1/4" copper now and therefore wants plastic piping instead. It's something the city is paying for and not the homeowner. They want 15 updated this year and have about 40 total to do. I suspect too much flow to be wearing out the small soft 1/4" copper line since if you open up such a line most of the way and let it buck in to a drain for 3 months straight then that's alot more wear on the pipe than normal use.

So I need to do more than just replace the piping to plastic if I want to try and solve the problem the right way. Especially since it's for the city utility department i want to do my best and look good.

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Here is a video of what I came up with. It's an irrigation dripper at the end of the new pex line. It gives 2gph. Myself and other plumbers/inspectors believe that should keep a 3/4"-1" residential service line from freezing up. Would anyone know the actual GPH flow needed to prevent it from freezing?Tapatalk Cloud - Downlaoad File 20211207_135647_001.mp4

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Here is a video of what I came up with. It's an irrigation dripper at the end of the new pex line. It gives 2gph.
Great idea! Use a dripper as a dripper!

2gph at what pressure? As for wether it will keep the line from freezing, you'd need to do a heat load calculation including the ground temp, pipe material/size, pipe length.

Ever use an insertion style heat tape? I've installed at least a half dozen the past two years. We prefer to use it in 1-1/4" or bigger poly but you can do 1" poly/copper. We use Heat-Line Retro-Line.
 
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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Great idea! Use a dripper as a dripper!

2gph at what pressure? As for wether it will keep the line from freezing, you'd need to do a heat load calculation including the ground temp, pipe material/size, pipe length.

Ever use an insertion style heat tape? I've installed at least a half dozen the past two years. We prefer to use it in 1-1/4" or bigger poly but you can do 1" poly/copper. We use Heat-Line Retro-Line.
Insertion heat would nit work on a 3/4" line underground from house all the way to the street through a curb stop. I know there has to be some sort of calculation but I can't find anything about it. I also would not know the actual temp and such as it's an underground line and some years are colder than othere here in MN . It's city pressure so around 50psi. The dripper is pressure compensating.

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