How to get city water in a South Bend foreclosure without a meter

by Nick Molnar on December 20, 2007

Today I spent many hours arranging water service to an investment property. After creating an account with the South Bend water department and making an appointment to have water turned on at the house, I met the technician during a 7 am to 11 am window at the property. At its simplest, turning on water to a house involves a technician using a special tool to open a valve buried in the yard below the frost line. Today was not that simple.

Our serviceman had no difficulty finding the valve in the yard, despite the snow that still covers most everything. After he found it though, he came to look in the basement for the meter. He quickly realized there was no meter in the house. Worse than that, there was no easy way to hook a meter into the existing piping.

I learned that it is a straightforward process to adapt the plumbing for installation of a meter, that you simply need a “Ram’s Horn” which is designed to accept the meter. These are not available at the big box retailers, but can be obtained at Underground Pipe and Valve near the intersection of Prairie and Chapin Streets. It’s an unlikely location for such a helpful store, in a declining building with an easy to overlook sign. Call ahead at (574) 282-2323 and they can help you find the store.

Once you do find it, tell them what you need, and the city it’s for, and they’ll supply the appropriate parts. Our Ram’s Horn for South Bend was about $55. I asked the salesman if he sold many of them, and he said “Oh yeah,” that ‘scrappers’ often take meters from vacant homes to sell for the value of their base metals.

Reworking the plumbing to be ready for a meter took about five minutes, and after another call to the water department, we had an appointment for early afternoon. During this second attempt, we had our 5/8″ meter installed, and learned the water had been (illegally) on to the house the entire time, but shutoff at the first valve before the (missing) water heater.

Check back often for more stories from this house, and more subtleties of the South Bend rehab market.


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Barb December 20, 2007 at 9:14 am

Interesting article. A shame that scrappers have even taken to breaking into homes to steal metal.

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