Excavating to Install a New Waterline

Bob reviews details of the excavation process and discusses the new copper pipes that will be used.

Clip Summary

Bob meets with Dick Hawley of John Hawley Inc. to watch the excavation for the new waterline. They discuss details of the process, as well as the copper pipes that will be used, which were probably not available when the system was last replaced.

Hi, I'm Bob Vila, welcome home again. We have got some exterior work going on today.

We've got a backhoe here and were digging a new trench so that we can put in a brand new water pipe in through the house.

Also we're going spending a little time back at Naumkeag in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, checking out the fabulous gardens there.

And here on the third floor we are doing some carpentry work, some trim work. All of our new moldings have come from the mill and so we've got Riley up there working.

Also our spindles have returned from the strippers.

Stick around. It's good to have you home again.

Bob Vila's, Home Again.

John J. Holly Inc is the oldest licensed utility contractor in the city of Cambridge. They've been doing water service and other utility connections for quite a long time.
And they showed up here this morning to start digging a trench.

They were quite relieved to see that our soil conditions here are very favorable. We have soft, soft clay and lots of sand. So they made quick work of digging through about 15 feet of the front garden.

Getting through the foundation was the tougher part of the job. We've got a stone that's locally referred to as Iron Stone. We think it comes from the Whistler part of Massachusetts and it's a real tough stone to break through. But , we are now at the point where we can talk with Dick Holly about the work that has to be done right here. Dick.

The first question I want to ask is why does a home owner need to do this? Why bother to replace the existing water service pipe?

The exiting service that was in the ground right now, that services the house, is galvanized lead lined pipe.

So, if you do have a lead lined pipe, that indicates that it is a replacement pipe, right? It's not the original the hundred year old pipe.

That is correct Bob.

And yet it still poses a certain amount of health hazard. I know that the town recommends that you change these pipes. It doesn't require to but they recommend that you change them and I know that very often people are warned that it's a good idea to have the water flow for minute or two in the morning before you drink any of your tap water.

That is correct.

So we have gotten out to the point that you have broken through the foundation. What's happening next?

The next step, Bob, is we're gonna push a driving bar through and it should come through the banking here. We'll take the driving bar back and then push in copper.

So we've gotta ask your son to go ahead and push through the other side.

Richard, drive the pipe.

There it comes. There it comes.

Here it is. That's good.

So this is solid iron pipe?

Yes it is.

And it's basically gone maybe 8 feet across the foundation and through the remaining 4 feet of soil here that we haven't excavated so that we haven't bothered our bushes and plants.

That's correct, Bob.

And know you've got a temporary hole here now that the rod is made and you can just push the copper through down there?

Hopefully we won't hit another structure and then the copper will come right through.

OK. Now, why do we go to copper? What's the advantage of copper?

The copper pipe, being the type of metal that it is, will avoid corrosion. You'll never have restriction on the one inch diameter of the pipe.

And they just didn't have that available to them, that kind of pipe available to them, when they replaced this service maybe 50 years ago.

That is correct.

Now, does the size of the pipe indicate that you'll have a stronger volume of water in the house?

The one-inch copper will provide you with more volume of water as opposed to the galvanized lead line which has corroded threaded connections.


Which in many cases, if held up to the light, you may only see a pinhole opening.

Sure. But the bottom line is the pressure that you have on the streak doesn't vary That's what you're gonna get inside.

That is correct.


That is correct.

Thanks, Dick.

I gotta break for some messages. Stick around.