Seeking advice on possible in slab hot water leak


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Old 01-02-07, 07:18 PM
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Unhappy Seeking advice on possible in slab hot water leak

Hi, I have a wood home built on a concrete slab. On the right side of the house, the kitchen, guest bathroom & utility room had ceramic tiles installed a couple of years ago. Recently, when walking into the guest bath, while barefooted, I noticed that the tiles closest to the tub were quite warm, and I could hear a what sounded like a slight running leak, but could not see one. After walking into the kitchen I also noticed the tiles around the kitchen sink, going towards the wall with the guest bath were also warm. I went to the utility room which also shares the opposite wall with the guest bathroom and also noticed warm tiles about half way out into the room. This house has a rheem electric waterheater in the attic. There are no noticable leaks in the attic and the hot water copper outlet pipe from the water heater is still hot. I suspect, but do not know, that the water manifold (for at least that side of the house) is between the wall of the guest bath and utility room. I am hoping that the water lines do not go into the slab, but odds are that they do. We have noticed standing water on the outside of the house, on both sides of the house, yet there seems to be no problem on the opposite side of the house, and the slab has a crown in it. Knowing this, I THOUGHT that it would only indicate that there are two leaks, not one, within the slab. This morning, I went to take a shower, and only had about 2 minutes of luke warm water, followed by nothing but cold water. I assumed the hot water heater had burned up, or the elements in it. However, I thought that the water leak may be so severe that the hot water heater just can not keep up.
To trouble shoot, I went to the water meter outside and verified that the small part of the meter was spinning continuously, indicating that water was moving somewhere. I went into the attic, turned off the cold water feed valve to the hot water heater, and unplugged the electric hot water heater to avoid any damage. Upon going outside to verify the meter, I found that it had stopped completely still. Seeing this, I am sure that what I have is a hot water ONLY leak, whether or not it is a single leak, I have yet to find out.
My question is: IF i remove some drywall from the utility room approximately behind the guest tub, to verify where I thought I heard the sound of a leak, and find that it is above slab grade, will re-sweating a leaking joint, or replacing a possible internally leaking valve be an easy task? IF after replacing or repairing any surface seen leak, is there another method other than looking at the water meter to determine if there are indeed leaks within the slab. ALso, is it common to tee off inside a slab when running hot water copper lines? My reasoning for this is IF it ends up being an "in slab" leak, and I tee off of the hot water manifold above the slab and put a cap on the pipe going into the slab, and run the copper pipe back up thru the attic and down into the kitchen along the outside walls of the house (which would only involve removing outside wood sheeting and insulating the new piping run)m would it be possible to still have a leak, should there be an internal slab tee, whereby the water would back flow to the old slab entry point? Any advice is welcome.
 
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Old 01-03-07, 06:32 AM
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If you cut and cap off where your hot water enters the slab and re-route the supply to your fixtures, you will need to cut and cap the other end at each fixture or you will just have the water flowing back into the leaking in-slab plumbing.
 
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Old 01-03-07, 09:56 PM
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Update, I did find the copper pipe leaking, just as it enters the slab, just after the hot water valve from the bath tub. Now, if I cut and cap off the copper pipe going into the slab, which apparently only feeds the kitchen hot water to the sink (for after the incoming sink line, there is a visible tee to the dish washer). By cutting the line going into the slab, sweating a 180 fitting onto that line prior to going in, capping off the line going in the slab, then re-routing the 180 up thru the attic and outer wall, down to the kitchen sink thru the outer wall, and tieing in at the hot water inlet valve to the sink, I would think there would be no need to cap off the copper line coming from the slab to the hot water valve in the kitchen sink, for it would be cut, and no longer under pressure. Have I missed something here? Given the fact the only remaining bathroom is on the rear opposite side of the house, I would have assumed the line from the hot water heater, would go to a manifold of copper lines, one running to the opposite side of the house, from mid slab, where the defective line would be on the opposite end of that run, where it goes into the slab on the opposite far wall of the master bathroom. It is obvious where the line goes defective, the copper is leaning towards the kitchen run, and not back towards the opposite side of the house. To do that would have been an extra 35' run of copper, hence my reasoning that an intelligent plumber would have tee'd off the manifold in opposite directions, thus saving material. IF I missed it, let me know.
 
 

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