Municipal water lines in cold climates - history of technology?

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Stephen Tashi
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The contemporary solution to keeping water lines from freezing is to bury them. In cold climates this implies deep trenches. Was that the solution when digging had to be done by hand?
In the USA, the usual solution to keeping water lines from freezing is to bury them. In cold climates this implies digging deep trenches. (On another forum, a person from Minnesota said water lines are typically buried 7 ft deep.) In the days before modern excavating equipment, were alternative technolgies used?
 

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trurle
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In northern Russia, especially in permafrost areas, buried water pipes are not a solution. Raised pipes with glass wool insulation coat are used instead.
 
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rbelli1
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Summary: The contemporary solution to keeping water lines from freezing is to bury them. In cold climates this implies deep trenches. Was that the solution when digging had to be done by hand?

In the days before modern excavating equipment, were alternative technolgies used?

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BoB
 
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  • #4
Torbert
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Here in Fairbanks, Alaska, notices are given out every fall warning of the discolored water that will issue from taps when the circulating pumps are turned on for the winter. The water does not run cloudy when turned off in the spring, only in the fall when the stagnant water in the feedlines from the pumps to the mainlines get mixed in.
Permafrost has been measured to over 300 m so deeper burial was not the answer.
In the early days water was delivered or fetched for the most part.
 
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  • #5
Stephen Tashi
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when the circulating pumps are turned on for the winter.

That's one alternative technology to burying lines. The way I imagine the municipal water lines in my town, they wouldn't form loops, but I've never looked into the matter.

Circulation pumps are commonly used in large hotels and motels on hot water systems to provide "instant" hot water. I don't know exactly how the circulation is plumbed - whether the circulation goes back through the water heater.
 
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DEvens
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In Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, winter temperatures often go as low as -40C. They used asbestos-insulated water mains for a while. Then they noted that the asbestos was abrading into the water. Here is an article from 1982.

https://www.upi.com/Archives/1982/1...gs-drinking-water-is-the-citys/8159404539200/
And they stopped installing them. However, there are still quite a lot of these things installed. It means that the water supply in Winnipeg is, depending on the neighborhood, quite high in asbestos fibers.

We are told this is only a problem if you inhale them. I make no warranty on that claim. I lived in Winnipeg from 1985 to 1988. No health effects detected.

Now, Winnipeg in the winter has very low humidity. And people often get humidifiers. So the advice was to be sure to use a type that did not put the asbestos into the air. There is a type of humidifier that spins a small wheel to produce mist, which is then blown into the room. This type in particular was strongly discouraged. Another type that involved blowing air through a sponge was approved, as were various types that boiled the water. However, these types typically got clogged quite quickly due to the mineral deposits. Generally, if your humidifier produced dust deposits in your home you were strongly encouraged to get rid of it.
 
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