Leak detection - before I call a plumber ($$$)


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Old 08-04-11, 01:17 PM
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Leak detection - before I call a plumber ($$$)

Hi all

came back home 2 days ago just to find possible leak notice on my gate, from my water company.
Followed their "how to determine where the leak is" procedure on the back of the notice.

here's findings:

1. With main shut off valve turned off, little star shaped dial spins. Not too fast, but it does.
2. When main valve to the house was turned back on, dial barely moves. Very minor "jerks".

So far, it apparently indicates outside the valve leak, from valve to meter.

I have roughly 30-40 feet of piping from the shut off valve to the foundation.
I, also, have, judging from the meter location, my main line covered by about 160 feet of asphalt.
Bummer. House is 9 yo. NO signs of any drainage or leaks whatsoever anywhere outside. Shut off valve shuts down water supply to EVERYTHING, including irrigation (was not turned on this summer, due to very cold weather) and bibs.

Is there anything I still need to do, before I call it quits and call very expensive plumber? For some reason, they are predatory around here.

Also, what should be a reasonable fee for leak detection under the driveway? I had quotes running into $500 just for that. Should take only what, half an hour or so, right?

Open to suggestions. Alternative is to simply run a bypass line across driveway side flowerbed, but I'll have to disassemble retention wall, move bark+soil, dig trench, cut asphalt anyway to release access to meter, and repair everything thereafter. And still call a plumber to do install. Trenching here is a nightmare, it's so rocky.

Good Samaritan suggestions?
 
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Old 08-04-11, 01:27 PM
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1. With main shut off valve turned off, little star shaped dial spins. Not too fast, but it does.
2. When main valve to the house was turned back on, dial barely moves. Very minor "jerks".
This sounds to me like a leaking packing gland on the shut-off valve.

Where IS this shut-off valve? Is it buried? If yes, can you dig around it so that we can see the valve? A picture would certainly help.
 
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Old 08-04-11, 01:33 PM
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shut valve is up on the garage wall. It is simple twist handle valve, same one I have on all my bibs outside. Hard plastic handle coming out of the wall, right above heaters.
I am not saying I do not have a leaky flapper or 2 in the house. And sure it is strange, as dial virtually stopped, on meter, when I opened that valve. But it definitely moves faster with valve turned off.
Oh, yes, bill had "adjustment" on it for the amount of $25 something, for water consumptions. 2 charges. I pressure washed everything back in June, and contributed this to that.
 
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Old 08-04-11, 01:37 PM
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tried to find a picture.. no success. twist handle in about 7 turns - shuts water down. that's what it is. looks very basic.
 
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Old 08-04-11, 02:35 PM
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Does not make sense to me so far.

1. There is a water stop outside, say by the street?
2. Then it travels underground to the meter in your house?
3. Do you have a valve before and after the meter?

The meter will not move if you shut the meter valve off and the leak is at the street side. Water is not going to go backwards from the house to street. Plus the meters are directional. I dont think they world spin but backwards if anything until all pressure was lost.

Do you have a slab home where the pipes are not accessable?

Are you responsible for the line from the street to the house/meter?

To test for leak leave everything on. Shut off the toilet valves to eliminate them. Dont use any water. Wait several minutes then watch the meter. If the meter spins its on the house side. The only way to tell if on the street side is to turn the water off at the street, disconnect the meter and add a pressue gauge to the line. Turn the water back on to gain pressure then turn off. Watch the gauge for lose of pressure.

Let us know.

Mike NJ
 
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Old 08-04-11, 03:56 PM
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Originally Posted by ukrbyk View Post
tried to find a picture.. no success. twist handle in about 7 turns - shuts water down. that's what it is. looks very basic.
I did not mean a generic picture but a picture of your specific valve.

This is a generic photo of a valve. What I want to know is if there is a leak between the "stem" and the "packing gland" when the valve is off.



If you have a plastic handle you probably have a plastic valve as well. If only the handle and stem protrude through the drywall you will need to do some "exploratory surgery" to see the valve inside the wall. You could also have what is called a "stop and waste" valve that was improperly installed and the waste (drain) cap is leaking slightly.
 
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Old 08-04-11, 04:10 PM
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I think to put a tag on your gate there must be a significant loss of water. You would possibly see grass growing better in an area or water in the home.

Mike NJ
 
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Old 08-04-11, 08:00 PM
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i did dye test in all toilet tanks in the house. they do not leak.

ok, one picture or video worth 1000 words

here's shut off valve. it's up on the wall in garage. House has crawl in space.


here's meter outside the gate



here's where, most likely, the main line runs



here's meter video WITH VALVE COMPLETELY SHUT OFF



I am still waiting for the 2nd video to upload, will post it next
 
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Old 08-04-11, 08:04 PM
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general setup is like this:

meter outside the gate

line runs into the house and comes up the wall in garage, where shut off valve is located

that valve turns off water for every single water line inside and outside.

i'll have son's friend, plumber, come over in few days, and take a look at everything in the crawl in space, before I call the cavalry.
 
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Old 08-04-11, 08:10 PM
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here's meter with shut off valve opened, and some water drained. then water was turned off and I shot this video. at that point, THERE WAS NO WATER USE ANYWHERE IN OR OUTSIDE THE HOUSE.

2 days ago, under same condition, that dial was barely moving. now it does move faster

 
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Old 08-04-11, 10:01 PM
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Gotcha!!! Meter at street. OK. I thought the meter was in the house. We typically have a valve( curb stop) where your meter is, and most meters are in the home.

Yes if you turn the valve off in the house, and you know the valve holds, the leak is from the meter to the valve.

First thing I would do is cut the sheetrock or whatever to expose the pipe where it goes into the foundation. Most leaks are from a area where the pipe leaves the slab/foundation. Alot of times its where the sleeve is. Sometimes they dont sleeve it at all and the inspector does not notice.

But I would say 85-90% of the service leaks I have done are close to the house. Possibly just where it exits the garage.

Once you open that see what material pipe it is. It should transition from copper to probably poly pipe. Take pics. Hey hopefully its right there in the wall...... You would hear it hissing Im sure.

Even probe on both sides of the driveway. Even a little into the neighbors yard. Look for dampness/wet. Water is funny, sometimes it stays under the grass, and the grass kind of floats. Looks normal until you walk on it. Basically touch and feel all areas left and right of where you think the pipe goes from the meter to the house.

How deep do they bury the water services or piping? Here in NJ its 3 1/2 ft min to be below frost line.


Ok your choice will be find the leak, dig the area where the leak is, and repair both pipe and landscape/driveway.

or find a guy that will pull a new line without trenching. We do it with a cable and a swedge to pull the new pipe through the old. If that house was in NJ and I priced it I would say $6500 complete. Just need to make a small hole in the garage, and a hole out in front of the meter house side.

or trench a whole new line. You dont want to trench I would assume....but some guys never pulled a pipe underground before.

I dont know your prices in relation to east coast but we are expensive because the NY/NJ/CT area.

Let us know. Select your contractor wisely.... You could have a nightmare on your hands if you dont.

Mike NJ
 
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Old 08-04-11, 11:24 PM
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I don't see a difference in the speed of the "tattletale" on the meter between the two videos. I will say that IS a significant amount of water flowing and I seriously doubt that it is inside the wall without showing some sign on the visible side of the wall but I can't see the bottom section of the wall.

I'm out of ideas and will leave you in Mike's capable hands.
 
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Old 08-05-11, 09:09 AM
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i'll run bypass line.
still will need to cut asphalt slab to get to meter, to run bypass west and into the western side flowerbed.
dismantle retention wall, flowerbed, allowing them at least 2 feet off asphalt to trench.
i'll try to cut slab with concrete saw, so that i can set it back into the trench and repair cut lines with asphalt repair mix.
but this all AFTER i'll have a friendly plumber come over and scope plumbing inside the house, between meter and foundation. happens to be so that son's good friend is a plumber. he already did some work on the house anyway.

it's 24 inches depth code here. at least, i shall know now, where the main line is. otherwise, there's no telling where what is in this house, it's was custom built by some guy, who was electrician or something by trade. it's a nightmare. can't even replace a light switch, all wires are black. go figure.

$6500 to run a bypass? note to self - never move East. I had 8 station irrigation installed, 4 heads each station, for 24 000 sq f lawn, total prolly well over a thousand feet of piping, complete install, for $5200.
 
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Old 08-05-11, 09:41 AM
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Listen you can pull a new line underground without trenching or cutting anything. At least find a guy who does this and get a price.

They use a swedge and cable and pull the new line through the old one. As you pull the cable the swedge splits the pipe and the new pipe attached to the swedge follows.

Trenching a by-pass should be the last resort. All you need is a 1x1 ft hole in the garage where the pipe enters the slab and a hole big enough out by the meter to pull the cable and make the connection. 4x4ft probably.

Most times the water service is run in the same trench as the sewer when the home is built.

This is the way. we use a similar method. Hole one would be in your garage and hole two out by the meter.


Mike NJ
 
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Old 08-05-11, 05:07 PM
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Hi
Check the ground at the meter . Pull the steel cover and the concrete cover off. It's an easy check for leaks at the meter and street shut off.
Good Luck Woodbutcher
 
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Old 08-05-11, 07:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Woodbutcher View Post
Hi
Check the ground at the meter . Pull the steel cover and the concrete cover off. It's an easy check for leaks at the meter and street shut off.
Good Luck Woodbutcher
planned for tomorrow morning. we just had a general pick at it a moment ago, but I'll dig deeper around tomorrow. Thank you
 
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Old 08-06-11, 12:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Woodbutcher View Post
Hi
Check the ground at the meter . Pull the steel cover and the concrete cover off. It's an easy check for leaks at the meter and street shut off.
Good Luck Woodbutcher
and blessed be the day you posted this! I OWE YOU BIG!! Thank you.



it will still be a major repair, due to asphalt all around the meter box, but it ain't no digging trenches.

lawrosa, they do not swedge pipes here, in this area, due to very rocky soil. Had swedging guy contacted.
 
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Old 08-06-11, 12:55 PM
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lawrosa, they do not swedge pipes here, in this area, due to very rocky soil. Had swedging guy contacted
Who knew...


Great that its right there!!!!!! You must be tickled pink!!!!! Its a good day and probably felt like opening a christmas present when you saw the water.

But water seeps its level, and is it right at a connection? It could be x number of ft away?

What do you think?

Is that a check valve right there at the meter?

It exciting. Take more pics. A follow through on the repair is always interesting. Espeacially east to west coast plumbing....

Mike NJ
 
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Old 08-06-11, 04:06 PM
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Originally Posted by lawrosa View Post
Who knew...


Great that its right there!!!!!! You must be tickled pink!!!!! Its a good day and probably felt like opening a christmas present when you saw the water.

But water seeps its level, and is it right at a connection? It could be x number of ft away?

What do you think?

Is that a check valve right there at the meter?

It exciting. Take more pics. A follow through on the repair is always interesting. Espeacially east to west coast plumbing....

Mike NJ
ha-ha! it's on the slope, and sloped down away from meter, into the property. there's no way it will sip up the hill. only winds in IN blow up.
At this point, I do not know exactly where it's coming from. Pipe is what I was told "carbonite" and goes down into the soil. my next thing will be to expose as much pipe as i can, under the asphalt and into the driveway, as all at a sudden all plumbers that are preparing estimates for me started complaining about "extra labor needed to cut asphalt". I'll try to dig under, it's in the non-weight bearing corner, and I am less worried about asphalt collapsing there.
 
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Old 08-06-11, 04:11 PM
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yeah, also - it ain't no geyser. hence, for water to be at this level, it should be sipping FROM ABOVE, not coming UP from BELOW. and ABOVE is only meter, pipe to meter, pipe from meter, and that little bottle looking thing at the downward elbow.
keep in mind, soil here is a sift, very rocky and pabbly. water goes through straight. i'll dig it deeper, to get below the main line level, and see what happens. not a bad idea to scoop that water out either.
 
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Old 08-07-11, 03:53 PM
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$419 after tax repair. seriously, call a Mexican. BIG BOYS wanted $1500 plus for same job.
 
 

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