This is the water supply line coming into my basement. 4 feet below the ground (frost line). My house is from 1940 and I assume that everything in these pictures are original.

I recently converted from galvanized steel to pex beyond the water meter for my entire downstairs due to water pressure issues. I can't do the upstairs yet because I'm not ready to tear down walls and upstairs is getting full pressure so things are good.

Anyways, if I ask the city to shut off the water at the street then would I be able to safely unscrew either that short pipe or the valve? I would use copper and continue the run to my pex transition. I have a sawzall with appropriate blades for cutting steel.

During my project I tried unscrewing a few runs of pipe with pipe wrenches and one of the joints simply broke off instead of unscrewing so if that happens here then I'm not sure about how I would proceed.

We bought the house 3 years ago and it has looked like this the whole time.

Any insight is appreciated!

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  • Were it my home I'd be replacing everything in the photo. Is that copper coming through the wall?
    – isherwood
    Sep 25, 2019 at 13:48
  • @isherwood I am 99% certain that it's galvanized steel from the street into my home. I added another picture to hopefully get a better angle.
    – MonkeyZeus
    Sep 25, 2019 at 14:14
  • Will the city replace up to their meter??
    – JACK
    Sep 25, 2019 at 14:16
  • @JACK No. I called them and from the road to my house is all my responsibility; about 80-100 feet. The will happily shut off the water at the street for no charge though.
    – MonkeyZeus
    Sep 25, 2019 at 14:17

2 Answers 2


This can be a problem with old galvanized pipe if you had pieces break inside I would expect the same or worse here. I would purchase a kit for an emergency repair because my experience has been when 1 piece crumbles the rest is in similar shape. You should look into driving some ground rods also years ago houses only had 1 ground the water pipe, I have worked in a community that removed the metal pipe and installed plastic but they did not install ground rods, people were getting shocked so it would be a good idea to add them now while you are working in that area. Changing from galvanized to copper don’t forget to get a dielectric Union this keeps the copper from creating a circuit with the galvanized pipe and electrolysis eating the pipe in short time. After seeing the latest photo I would plan to replace everything from the Union on the meter to the house. This still could turn into a can of worms but I have had fewer problems with heavy cast than galvanized, the galvanized usually corrodes where the threads are cut through the zinc coating just as yours probably will.

  • What is that piece between the grounding wire and the wall?? A pressure regulator?? Thanks Ed.
    – JACK
    Sep 25, 2019 at 14:04
  • Not a regulator it looks like some type of grounding lug.
    – Ed Beal
    Sep 25, 2019 at 14:07
  • @JACK I added another picture to my post. Hopefully it helps.
    – MonkeyZeus
    Sep 25, 2019 at 14:23
  • Can you link me to one of these "emergency repair kits"? I've found several results but I'm not sure which one would fit my needs.
    – MonkeyZeus
    Sep 25, 2019 at 14:32
  • I was thinking of a slip on collar with a compression seal granger, and my plumbing and electric store have them, your last pic shows not much room until you get to the meter so these may not help much. I as I added to my answer I would probably tackle it at the union these break less often in my experience.
    – Ed Beal
    Sep 25, 2019 at 14:47

You're right to have the city turn off the water at the street but I don't think anyone on this site will say you can safely remove the small pipe or valve. That being said, you've got a corroded mess on your hands. The gate valve needs to be replaced. You're going to have to cut a pipe, unless there is a union, to start disassembling this. Clean up the joint between the valve and the ground wire fitting.... DO NOT REMOVE OR TAMPER WITH THIS. IT'S GROUNDING YOUR ELECTRIC PANEL. Then try to unscrew this connection. If you're successful, you can replace the valve with a ball valve and continue with your conversion. If this connection twists off you're in trouble and will probably need a plumber to replace the line.

  • Thanks for the tip about the grounding rods. My good friend is a journeyman electrician and spoke the same words as you. I would have him bring my electrical up to par.
    – MonkeyZeus
    Sep 25, 2019 at 14:21

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