How do I fix a leak in a lead water service pipe?


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Old 12-12-10, 08:08 AM
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How do I fix a leak in a lead water service pipe?

The water line into my 80 year old house is lead. (I have water filters inside to remove any residual lead in the water itself). It is leaking around a joint where two sections were joined. The pipe itself is about 50 inches underground and I have excavated a hole and found the pipe. I have soldered copper pipes before but never lead. Does anyone know how to repair a lead water pipe?? Can I just pour some molten lead around the joint? There is no visible hole or obvious leak and I do not have the tool to turn on the water. The water company will need to do that.
 
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Old 12-12-10, 11:54 AM
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Have you considered replacing the line? It is obviously a health hazard and it won't stop deteriorating so you will have more leaks in the future. Is the inside plumbing lead or galvanized.

I do not have the tool to turn on the water.
You really should have one. A hardware store or the BigBox building supply should have them to fit your cut off. If you have a major leak you don't want to have to wait a few hours for the water company.

The plumbers will be along soon with a more detailed reply.
 
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Old 12-12-10, 12:05 PM
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Some places have the cut-off much deeper than commonly available tools can reach. A welder could make one. Or add an extension to a retail model for about 10 bucks I would think.
 
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Old 12-12-10, 12:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Gunguy45 View Post
Some places have the cut-off much deeper than commonly available tools can reach. A welder could make one. Or add an extension to a retail model for about 10 bucks I would think.
Thanks for the reminder. Living in the land of one inch deep frost line I tend not to think about things like that.
 
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Old 12-12-10, 12:28 PM
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It's extremely doubtful that you or anyone else can repair that line, it's a skill that has almost disappeared, plus you would need to get all of the water out before you could work on it.

I think that your best bet is to plan on replacing the line.
 
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Old 12-12-10, 01:51 PM
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Were lead service lines still being installed in 1930? Is it possible that the original poster is mistaking a galvanized steel pipe for lead?

ktrader33, where do you live and can you post a picture of this pipe?
 
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Old 12-12-10, 07:31 PM
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How do I fix a leak in a lead water service pipe?

Thanks for your assistance so far. It is illegal here to have a tool to turn your city water on and off as the water company uses that tool to turn you off when you do not pay your bill. Replacing the line, (unless I do it myself) costs $4500 according to the only plumber (out of 10 that I called) that showed up. He is talking about a 1 inch flexible copper pipe with compression fittings. I can do that myself in June but as we speak (in Gary Indiana) it is 7 degrees with a windchill of 23 below and we are getting 2 feet of snow. All the original water service pipes here are lead. You can trim them with a sharp knife so I know they are not galvanized. I suspect that anyone old enough to know how to fix them probably does not have a computer. The water is out. That I know as the spot that leaked was the low spot in the line.
 
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Old 12-12-10, 09:01 PM
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You can try epoxy but you will need to cut the water and drain the line for best results. Given the temperature I would clear away the snow as much as I could. Put incandescent trouble light in the hole for heat and cover it. The trouble light would have to be plugged into a GFCI receptacle.

In the Navy we used Devcon epoxy, rubber gasket material over that and hose clamps to hold the patch in place.. There may be a better epoxy and if this is at a coupling rather then a hole in the pipe that may not work.
 
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Old 12-12-10, 10:23 PM
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Most towns give a reimbursement to replace these lines/ Ask your town. Instead of trenching(which is of a higher cost) find someone who will use a cable and pull a new line under ground. No digging and cheaper. Poly pipe is less expensive. If I lived by you I would do for 2k. The town probably gives 1500 rebate.

Here... If plumbers are not doing this they are missing the boat.. We been doing this 10 plus yrs...

Grice Industries, Inc. - Replacement Instructions

Mike NJ
 
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Old 12-13-10, 01:47 PM
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Thanks so much. We did use a plumbers epoxy around the joint. The water was drained as it had leaked out the crack. We did use a trouble light overnight with insulation on the surface. After about 3 hours we added a water activated epoxy mesh that wrapped around the plumbers epoxy. The water company just left and the repair was solid. No leaks. So thanks to all who helped out.
 
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Old 12-13-10, 02:14 PM
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Here is some info. I know you have some type of filter but lead to me is a scary thing. Good job fixing it and I hope it lasts. Like I said in previous post ask about reimbursement program. Your cost may be minimal and will probably pay for its self. I know filters are expensive and cost can add up. If you dont drink the water then dont worry about it.

CDC - Lead - Tips - Sources of Lead - Water

Mike NJ
 
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Old 12-14-10, 01:26 AM
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Lead piping can be repaired with a ford fitting, which may be difficult to find & probably difficult to install. You might try local plumbing suppliers. They may stock them if there's lots of lead around.

The really old way to join lead pipe was to 'wipe' it. You'd wear a wiping mitten and wipe molten lead on the joint until it got hot enough to stick. Then keep wiping more on until there's ball about 1 times the size of the pipe. The son of any plumber that wiped joints is an old man by now.

Or, you can try to piece in copper, like this guy:

YouTube - toms top tips how to join copper lead

If you do that, put it on youtube & let us know.
 
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Old 12-14-10, 05:52 AM
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Mike, hey, that seems to be a pretty efficient and not-to-costly remedy to replace bad or aged supply lines. $600 for the kit, not bad. 1 1/2 hours for a typical job that normally takes a backhoe or trencher, operator, several diggers and 5 supervisors (for DOT projects only), and whittles it down quite a bit. As I read, only excavation is needed. Neat.
 
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Old 12-14-10, 05:53 PM
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Ever have trouble with "Thread GRICE PIPE REPLACEMENT TOOL cable through damaged line"? I imagine it would be difficult, if not impossible, through galvanized.
 
 

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