might have a buried leak

Discussion in 'General Plumbing Help' started by davidinnm, Sep 14, 2013.

Help Support Plumbing Forums by donating using the link above.
  1. Sep 14, 2013 #1

    davidinnm

    davidinnm

    davidinnm

    Member

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2013
    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    ,
    other day started hearing a low noise like water running in a bathroom. The meter though isn't turning or at least the leak indicator doesn't turn. Using a mechanics stethoscope at the pipes they are noisy like a hissing sound. Something really strange is if I shutoff the valve to the water heater input the noise gets really loud and you can hear it near the wall itself but the meter doesn't show any evidence of water running. My water heater is connected to the pipes with flexible connections which are not metal so the water heater isn't bonded to the pipes. That concerns me as well since we are also seeing purple and sometimes black like stuff coming out of the bath faucets. The water heater is new this year. I'm worried something is happening with the anode and the water heater needs to be electrically bonded to the pipes. Or my copper pipes have all corroded to a point they are just now spitting out this stuff. I have single handle faucets everywhere so the hot and cold lines are electrically connected there. I'm going to take a photo of the water meter and be sure nothing is running anywhere in the house and wait a few hours and take another photo and post the results. Could a pin hole leak make a lot of noise in the lines yet not move the meter or not move it quickly? If I put the stethoscope on the inlet to the water heater it is silent but the outlet from the water heater has the same noise.
     
  2. Sep 14, 2013 #2

    davidinnm

    davidinnm

    davidinnm

    Member

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2013
    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    ,
    Okay meter at street does show a very small leak. The little wheel moves only slightly and rarely. I'm thinking the entire plumbing in the two bath area is old and not to be trusted now with the blue stuff in the water. I'm wondering about going through the attic with new lines. Need to talk with insurance and plumbers. I might be able to do it myself but not sure. I will need to find out where the feeds come up through the slab that service the baths. I see the two showers have lines running through the walls so think perhaps the two feed lines come up somewhere then the fixtures are fed by runs in the walls. I also think insurance will only pay for the one leak but worry this will be an ongoing problem.
     
  3. Sep 14, 2013 #3

    johnjh2o

    johnjh2o

    johnjh2o

    Senior Member Professional

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2011
    Messages:
    3,205
    Likes Received:
    733
    Location:
    Melbourne, Florida
    Most insurance company's will pay to make repairs for accessing the leak but won't pay for the repair to the pipe. There is a company called American Leak Detection that will locate and make a temporary repair to the line. If it's under the slap they will locate it leaving a small hole to repair. You will need to have a permanent repair done to the line.
     
  4. Sep 15, 2013 #4

    davidinnm

    davidinnm

    davidinnm

    Member

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2013
    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    ,
    Thanks in fact talked to American yesterday to get an idea of the cost just in case. Now this is strange. I just dug through my boneyard box full of ancient technology and found a cassette tape recorder and a microphone. I got some ear buds and fired it up wondering if I could use it in record mode to hear the sound of the leak and maybe find a general location for it. So I head to the bath with the gear and touch the shower control metal plate with the mike and hear nothing. I got under the sink and touch the hot shut off valve that was always loud and nothing. So go get the stethoscope and check again and nothing. Dead silence. About an hour ago I had just taken a shower and a big pile of black stuff spewed out of the spigot. I hope this isn't toxic but just get showering and watched all this stuff go down the drain. I am so confused with all this now. I did install a 1/4 turn shutoff valve at the output of the water heater to allow us to stop wasting water if there is a leak at night. It is possible the tiny gyrations I see at the main meter in the leak indicator is pressure variations at the street. i have never see any significant movement in that indicator. It's like looking at a painting and thinking the faces eyes moved. Perhaps still a pin hole leak and some of this black crud has sealed if for now.
     
  5. Sep 15, 2013 #5

    johnjh2o

    johnjh2o

    johnjh2o

    Senior Member Professional

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2011
    Messages:
    3,205
    Likes Received:
    733
    Location:
    Melbourne, Florida
    If you can turn the water off at the meter. Let is sit for five min. without using any water. Then turn it on. If you have a leak you should hear the water re-entering the lines along with a jump of the meter.
     
  6. Sep 25, 2013 #6

    davidinnm

    davidinnm

    davidinnm

    Member

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2013
    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    ,
    I valved off everything the other night except the hot water line from the water heater. Sprinkler valves ice make everything. Toilets quiet. I measured the meter at the beginning and it was 55508 and seven hours later it was 55516. The lowest two digits are red and the other three are black. I called the water company to ask how to read it. It says units are ft^3. So in seven hours that's 8 ft^3 or about 60 gallons. I am so confused by this because I would imagine water running out the front door at that rate. I'm certain it is on the hot side or perhaps this could happen. I have single handle faucets throughout. One in the bath where I hear all the sounds leaks across between the hot and cold sides. I suppose it is possible for hot water to find a parallel path through that faucet and join cold water going out a cold water leak. I doubt it though because I had the copper sulfate coming out the tub on the hot side. There is no more of that coming out anywhere though. Sometimes the pipes are totally silent. Dead silent. Other times I can hear it in the air else need stethoscope touching the pipes. Perhaps stuff plugs the hole. I wonder if I could find it with a FLIR camera? Do those work? I doubt it could detect it through the slab and carpet if that is where it is. I'm willing to spend the detection cost toward equipment because I think this old house will have more of these. I'd have a plumbing make the patch but if I could locate and expose it that would save a lot. Oh I installed a 3/4 1/4 turn valve at the outlet of the water heater and shut it off when we don't need hot water. I do hear water rushing though the valve as I open it with the stethoscope.
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2013
  7. Sep 25, 2013 #7

    johnjh2o

    johnjh2o

    johnjh2o

    Senior Member Professional

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2011
    Messages:
    3,205
    Likes Received:
    733
    Location:
    Melbourne, Florida
    Did you try turning off the main and turning back on after a five min.?
     
  8. Sep 25, 2013 #8

    davidinnm

    davidinnm

    davidinnm

    Member

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2013
    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    ,
    John got sidetracked on the water heater shut off so just went out and did your test. I shut the main off for 5 minutes then back on. The leak indicator spun rapidly and the red needle moved about 1/10th ft^3.

    I'm going to shutoff the water heater outlet and do it again while at it.

    Back later after doing the same thing but with water heater outlet valve shut off. This time the red needle (1/10 ft^3) didn't move and the leak indicator spun about three times and stopped quickly.
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2013
  9. Sep 25, 2013 #9

    johnjh2o

    johnjh2o

    johnjh2o

    Senior Member Professional

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2011
    Messages:
    3,205
    Likes Received:
    733
    Location:
    Melbourne, Florida
    It sounds like the leak is in the cold water side. You can try to locate it yourself, but the best thing would be to call a leak detection company.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2013
  10. Sep 26, 2013 #10

    davidinnm

    davidinnm

    davidinnm

    Member

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2013
    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    ,
    The least was with the hot side turned off. Only a very small and short movement of the leak indicate when it was off. I borrowed an IR thermometer. I found a hot tile in the entry way. I used dousing rods to track the pipe. It runs from the water heater and does a run across the entry way and a wide turn toward the main bathroom shower. That's the one with the clump of copper sulfate coming out the faucet. This is great if true. It's 85F on that tile and drops off around it toward 73 everywhere else. I'm going to measure it in the morning after the hot water has been off all night. The tile is against a bedroom closet. I think it would be best to try and punch a small hole down into that area from within the closet and check for water first. I ordered one of those hear through wall gizmos on Ebay that will be something I can listen across that tile before drilling. If its there will need to get a plumber to splice or patch or whatever because code here only allows plumbers to do things that will be buried. Thanks for the advice here. I'll post results and maybe a picture showing the sinkhole under my house.
     
  11. Oct 6, 2013 #11

    davidinnm

    davidinnm

    davidinnm

    Member

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2013
    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    ,
    http://i28.photobucket.com/albums/c248/highlander0/PICT0231_zps44fdb0db.jpg

    I found the leak where the floor was warm. The pipe had a pile of concrete touching it where they had shoveled it in and used it to cradle the hot air duct. I didn't know a duct was there so punched a hole in it. The duct is all rotted out so there was some leak there for a long time. Help on this duct is really appreciated. I don't know what to do with it at this point. I plan to talk to a heating contractor and see if there is a slip in repair tube of some kind. Since the photo I opened the floor up a lot and have the duct bend opened to work on. I put an epoxy patch on the leak to keep us with hot water for now. I'm going to have to remove a lot of the ducts bottom to allow access to a good end of the pipe if there is one. I'm about a foot and a half from a wall so I'm worried I may have to excavated in a closet on the other side of the wall to make the connection. FYI I bought a demolition hammer on ebay which is a very nice tool. Shipped to the door only about $146. Weighs 50lbs and gets the job done. A local plumber is available to make the connections. He says shark bites and PEX for the patch is legal in this state. He hasn't seen the excavation yet. I'll crack open some more floor tomorrow.

    here's the hammer link

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Electric-Demolition-Jack-Hammer-Jackhammer-Concrete-Breaker-Chisels-Steel-Case-/190814522571?pt=Industrial_Hand_Tools&hash=item2c6d6e8ccb
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2013
  12. Oct 6, 2013 #12

    johnjh2o

    johnjh2o

    johnjh2o

    Senior Member Professional

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2011
    Messages:
    3,205
    Likes Received:
    733
    Location:
    Melbourne, Florida
    Shark bite fittings may be legal but that is the last place I would be using one. You have it exposed which wasn't a easy job way do a repair that is questionable and take the chance that you may have to do it again.
     
    Zanne likes this.
  13. Oct 6, 2013 #13

    robmcg

    robmcg

    robmcg

    Member

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2013
    Messages:
    17
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    ,
    He is 100% right. That's no place for sharkbites in place of a much more inexpensive and much Better copper to pex fitting. I have seen sharkbites fail in easy to get places.
     
    Zanne likes this.
  14. Oct 6, 2013 #14

    davidinnm

    davidinnm

    davidinnm

    Member

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2013
    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    ,
    Yes agree. Slept on it and also took a look at a shark bite yesterday and it relies on an oring for the seal. The pipe is old and irregular so I wouldn't feel confident an oring would work for long if at all.

    Okay brazed connection on old pipe with PEX in the gap. Thanks!

    Any ideas on the damage duct? The bottom is rotted out so I need to splice something in there or slip something in there. I've got to cut it out also to get more access to pipe to the left of the leak.


    Here's a link to a thing I bought during the hunt.

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Hear-Through-Walls-Spy-Listening-Device-Wall-Bug-Door-Spy-Hear-Convo-/281178575979?pt=US_Surveillance_Gadgets&hash=item41778c946b

    I could hear the leak with it under the slab and had my wife shut the valve on and off but it wasn't useful to put an X on the floor.
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2013
  15. Oct 6, 2013 #15

    IFIXH20

    IFIXH20

    IFIXH20

    HERE TO HELP Professional

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2012
    Messages:
    948
    Likes Received:
    236
    Location:
    ,
    Can you post a better pic of the duct and the need length of replacement.
     
  16. Oct 7, 2013 #16

    davidinnm

    davidinnm

    davidinnm

    Member

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2013
    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    ,
    I uploaded a short video. The old pipe may be a 1 foot diameter. I will need to cut off pipe to get to the backside of the leak so I may need a couple feet of something to join the ends. It isn't metal pipe actually. It's some kind of treated paper material with a silver like lining.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_l7eA_d4rBw&feature=youtu.be
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2013
  17. Oct 8, 2013 #17

    davidinnm

    davidinnm

    davidinnm

    Member

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2013
    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    ,
    A local heating company says they have something called Spiral so will check with them for a piece to go in the gap.
     
  18. Oct 8, 2013 #18

    IFIXH20

    IFIXH20

    IFIXH20

    HERE TO HELP Professional

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2012
    Messages:
    948
    Likes Received:
    236
    Location:
    ,
    David, that might be Asbestos so be careful. If the spiral duct works be sure to insulate it and place thick styrofoam around the duct before pouring your concrete. Try to get some type of moisture barrier between the water line and the duct as well.
     
  19. Oct 15, 2013 #19

    davidinnm

    davidinnm

    davidinnm

    Member

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2013
    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    ,
    Think the duct is some kind of paper material as it was rotten. I don't have a plan for the duct yet. I have a section of concrete that was under the duct touching the pipe. I would like to clear it but worry it will damage the pipe during removal. I'm going to see if I can slip something between the pipe and concrete like a piece of vinyl floor tile then go very slow at it. This is a big headache to say the least. Now wishing i had a crawl space. Not sure if the pipe either side of the leak is sound. Well see what the plumber says. Do they ever xray pipes?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1VLqPmLRi9s&feature=youtu.be
     
  20. Oct 15, 2013 #20

    IFIXH20

    IFIXH20

    IFIXH20

    HERE TO HELP Professional

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2012
    Messages:
    948
    Likes Received:
    236
    Location:
    ,
    Ask the plumber if a long repair coupling can be used instead of making swing joints. I notice only one water line, Is there another way to run a new line? No xray that I am aware of.
     

Share This Page