We have a slow but steady leak SOMEWHERE.


  #1  
Old 03-30-05, 07:28 AM
gman79
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We have a slow but steady leak SOMEWHERE.

For the past 4 months, our water bill has been $100 or so. It is just me and my wife living in a small townhouse, and in our prior apartment, we only spent about $20 a month in water bills. We conserved water so much last month (5 minute showers, only flushing the toilet every other time.. ugh that was gross), but the bill was still $85! The water company has come out twice so far to check the meter. The first time, they said the leak indicator was running, but I was in the home and the guy never bothered to knock and tell me to make sure I wasn't running water. I asked them to test it a second time. The second time they came out, I made the sure main water supply was off, and I saw the meter with my own eyes. It's spinning around, even though the water supply is turned off.

I have checked the toilets with food coloring in the tank. After 45 minutes, no dye goes into the bowl. None of the faucets drip. I have no idea where the water is going!

My fear is that it's an underground leak, but there are no puddles in our yard or anything. Are there any further troubleshooting steps I can take to find the leak or fix it myself before calling a plumber? I already made an appointment for Friday just in case, but I'm hoping I won't need one! We're strapped for cash!

Any help is appreciated!
 
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Old 03-30-05, 08:28 AM
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Originally Posted by gman79
The second time they came out, I made the sure main water supply was off, and I saw the meter with my own eyes. It's spinning around, even though the water supply is turned off.
I presume you are talking about the shutoff inside the house, not the one out at the meter? If that's the case, the leak pretty much HAS to be underground (or the meter itself is bad/leaking).
 
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Old 03-30-05, 08:29 AM
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gman79, Welcome to the DIY Forums.
If the main valve to your house is working properly, there is an underground leak. Check this by turning off the valve and trying to run a faucet near the valve. This will tell you if the valve is by-passing.
Water doesn't always surface where it is leaking from. Soil conditions allow for alternate escape routes. Also, you didn't say where you lived but if it has cold winters there, the lines are probably buried quite deep. This keeps them below the frost level for your area. Good luck.
 
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Old 03-30-05, 08:48 AM
gman79
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Originally Posted by majakdragon
gman79, Welcome to the DIY Forums.
If the main valve to your house is working properly, there is an underground leak. Check this by turning off the valve and trying to run a faucet near the valve. This will tell you if the valve is by-passing.
Water doesn't always surface where it is leaking from. Soil conditions allow for alternate escape routes. Also, you didn't say where you lived but if it has cold winters there, the lines are probably buried quite deep. This keeps them below the frost level for your area. Good luck.
Thank you for your quick reply.

Nope, no water is getting through that valve on the inside of the house when it's shut off.

I guess it's a job for a plumber. Any idea how expensive it will be to find the leak and repair or replace the line? The distance between the meter and our townhouse is only 25-30 feet. Can they do repairs without replacing the entire thing? We have a home warranty, but the fine print says they don't cover any leaks outside the foundation so I'm guessing this will most likely come out of our pockets.

I live about 30 miles south of Washington D.C. We have some cold winters sometimes, but it rarely gets below the teens.
 

Last edited by gman79; 03-30-05 at 09:05 AM.
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Old 03-30-05, 10:12 AM
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Patching could be an option but, in my opinion, a bad one. 25-30 ft is one and a half lengths of pipe. If the old line is leaking, then it will probably leak again somewhere else in the future. Better to replace the line all at once. Unless the leak was caused by something else than time and normal wear such as a rock that wore through the line. The plumber will probably probe to find the leak and start any process there. That will give you your answer. Good luck.
 
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Old 03-30-05, 01:43 PM
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To give you a sort've frame of reference, I just had my sewer line replaced from the house to the street (about 25 ft.). That was around $2500.00. I live not too far from you, in the Panhandle of WV. I did have some complications so perhaps your repair will be less.
 
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Old 03-30-05, 02:30 PM
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Sewer lines are much larger than water lines. Most main sewer lines are 4" and water lines are USUALLY 1" or less. Escavation cost is still the same but materials are way less. Good luck.
 
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Old 03-30-05, 03:08 PM
gman79
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Originally Posted by md2lgyk
To give you a sort've frame of reference, I just had my sewer line replaced from the house to the street (about 25 ft.). That was around $2500.00. I live not too far from you, in the Panhandle of WV. I did have some complications so perhaps your repair will be less.
Thank you. That helps take some of the sting away for when we get the actual estimate.

Luckily, we have no bushes or landscape to dig up and it's just a straight shot of grass from the meter to the house. I will post a follow up on Friday!
 
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Old 03-30-05, 03:16 PM
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Good luck! I did mean to put in my last post that your cost for the pipe should be somewhat less. Although I'm not sure there's all that much difference between 1" copper and 4" PVC.

I wouldn't assume the piping is a straight run either. Mine wasn't by a long shot.
 
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Old 04-01-05, 12:17 PM
gman79
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We need a new water line. $2500.

Originally Posted by md2lgyk
Good luck! I did mean to put in my last post that your cost for the pipe should be somewhat less. Although I'm not sure there's all that much difference between 1" copper and 4" PVC.

I wouldn't assume the piping is a straight run either. Mine wasn't by a long shot.
Well the plumber came today, and after shutting off our main line from inside and seeing the meter still running, he could tell that we needed a new water line. He quoted us $2500 to replace the existing line with copper pipe. We have copper everywhere else in the house but the service line.

I am going to call around and get other estimates. He also mentioned there was a class action lawsuit against polybutylene manufacturers, but apparently we don't have the right kind of pipe to collect and the house is too old (24 years) anyway.

Guess we'll be calling a couple other plumbers for some estimates. $2500 wasn't too much of a shock though since I posted here!
 
 

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