Early Monday morning the super of a residential building in Gramercy Park was alarmed after noticing a steady flow of water in the roadway directly in-front of the building. At first he did not think much of the water as NYC had experienced heavy rains over the prior 24 hrs, he still decided to call the NYC DEP to evaluate the water and determine the source of a possible water main break.
The DEP arrived at the building within 4 hours and ended up digging in the roadway as the leak was coming up in the street at the exact point where the buildings water main connects to the city water main (AKA Wet Connection Valve). Shortly after performing an exlporatory excavation it was determined tha the pipe was leaking and a 3 day notice was issued. The buildings existing water main was made of 3” galvanized pipe which was installed in 1957. Due to the material of the pipe there was no option but to replace the entire water line as it is illegal to perform a repair on a galvanized pipe, DEP would never have approved inspections on a repair of this type. It is also highly advised to replace a main of this age regardless of the material type; it is common that there would be an additional leak on a main of this age due to natural wear and tear.
Harris Water Main & Sewer Contractors was on-site the very next day to start the installation of the new 3” ductile iron water main, the replacement was extremely time sensitive as the 10 family building could not be without water for more than 1 day. The Harris Water installation crew had to work smart and quick to replace the water main on what would usually be a 4 day project. The utilities in the roadway required the new installation to include additional fittings as there would be several bends and turns on the new pipe, this differs from other installations where the pipe would run straight allowing for a less timely process. The new installation required attention to detail and extreme precision.
The installation crew began digging in the roadway and on the property to prepare the tunnels for what was projected to be the second and final day of the installation. The roadway, sidewalk and property were covered with metal plates overnight to allow for traffic to pass as usual while the crew was not on-site working.
The buildings water was shut-off at 9AM on Wednesday morning when the old water line was removed in preparation for the new installation. The foreman had to use a burn-out torch to remove the lead from the existing “lead jointed wet connection”. A lead jointed wet connection is an old type of connection where the joints are sealed with lead, this type of connection is no longer used, all new wet connections are installed with mechanical joints which are more reliable.
The new ductile iron pipe was now being installed underground through the tunnels that were made the day before; the new water line consisted of 45’ of pipe from the roadway to inside the building where the new OS&Y valve was installed as well as a new curb valve on the sidewalk. The installation was completed and the water was turned back on by 3:30pm. The final step of the installation was sealing the wet connection joints with hot lead before a corporation clamp is installed from the new pipe, to the existing wet connection. The Corporation clamp is used to secure the new pipes connection to the existing wet connection.
The DEP passed inspection on the pipe; the excavations were now being prepared for backfill of clean fill dirt. All dirt was tampered with a “jumping jack” which is used to compact the soil every 2’ as the hole is being filled in.
Harris Water Main and Sewer Contractors were able to successfully replace an old leaking water line on an emergency basis. This particular water main replacement required expertise and precision due to the unexpected utilities and required connections. Installing water lines and sewers in Manhattan is like no other borough in NYC as a contractor must always be prepared for the unexpected.