Water leak issue

Discussion in 'General Plumbing Help' started by Geekfather, Aug 28, 2018.

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  1. Aug 28, 2018 #1

    Geekfather

    Geekfather

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    I am not a plumber by no means. Water company left a message that our meter was spinning and coupled with a bill that was 60 dollars higher it appeared they are correct. The meter is slowly slowly rotating. There is no water shut off in the house - only one is at the meter. Started turning off sink knobs- washer etc no change. When I closed the water feed valve into my water heater (new 2 years ago) the spinning stopped. I assume this means the leak is on the hot water side of the system pipes? Can a shower (both are single controls - not separate hot and cold) cause this? I crawled under the house and looking at the pipes see no leakage. IdeaS?
     
  2. Aug 28, 2018 #2

    mike fiore

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    if youre positive that meter stopped when you shut cold water supply off to hot water tank you will need to trace all hot water lines down with supply back on to tank. listen to pipes to hear water running. and hot water should have a little steam to it if you can see leak.
     
  3. Aug 28, 2018 #3

    anticlmatic

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    Well that rules out toilets, number 1 in easy to miss water drainage. With no water coming down, I’m stumped. Dish washer? Washing machine somehow?
     
  4. Aug 29, 2018 #4

    Geofd

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    if you think its the hot side maybe if you feel the hot side of each fixture....maybe one is hotter than the other.....can you see the tee branches going to the fixtures???????
     
  5. Aug 29, 2018 #5

    Geekfather

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    Crawled under the house - no wetness seen on any pipes. No drips nothing. My water heater is in the garage and the exit pipe goes into our kitchen wall then down to the crawlspace. The insulators wrapped each and every pipe and found nothing wet. So really super confused.
     
  6. Aug 29, 2018 #6

    FishScreener

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    Good excuse to put on your super geek, and buy a thermal camera.
     
  7. Aug 29, 2018 #7

    FishScreener

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    Is there a proper air gap on the discharge line from the temperature/pressure relief valve?

    Sometimes diy folks hard plumb the discharge line to a waste line or sump. And water leaks out of the tpv without ever being seen.

    Try feeling the line from the tpv to see if it is warm. If it is, you’ve found the leak.
     
    mike fiore, Mikey and anticlmatic like this.
  8. Aug 29, 2018 #8

    Geofd

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    have you felt the feed pipe on the hwh when no one is using the fixtures the heater shouldn't be firing all the time if no one is using the fixtures....have you felt all the hot feeds at the fixtures?????
     
  9. Aug 30, 2018 #9

    jeffnc

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    Any pipe that has hot water trickling through it should feel warm. The first thing to do is feel the the warm water pipe coming out of the hot water heater. Make sure no one has used any hot water for awhile. If that is warm, follow the pipe and keep feeling where it is warm or stops feeling warm, following the branches.

    If the hot water pipe is not warm but water is entering the water heater, then it must either be that the tank itself is leaking, or as FishScreener said the discharge line is leaking into the drain system.
     
  10. Sep 4, 2018 #10

    Geekfather

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    Thanks for the replies. Cannot access some of the pipes as they run down through the walls. The warm water pipe from the water heater is indeed warm. This is a brand new water heater that was replaced 2 years ago. I did notice that one of our outside faucets is leaking. Which technically (after closing water tank inlet valve) should not even factor into the equation. I was under the house yesterday finishing up some HVAC connections and rechecked each and every pipe. I saw absolutely no water hanging from anywhere. When you say feel each warm water pipe - are we referring under the house and like under each sink etc?
     
  11. Sep 4, 2018 #11

    Geofd

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    yes.... at each fixture
     
  12. Sep 5, 2018 #12

    jeffnc

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    You should be able to follow a single pipe that is warm, all the way from the hot water heater to wherever it ends up.
     
  13. Sep 5, 2018 #13

    TomFOhio

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    Do you have any pipes going underground to a bathroom or kitchen??
     
  14. Sep 5, 2018 #14

    Mikey

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    So the errant water is definitely going into the water heater, and not coming out the TPR valve. It's got to be going somewhere. Since you've apparently not seen any large puddles in the house, it's got to be going out of the system via the waste side or an outdoor faucet -- hose bib, irrigation system, etc.

    The most probable waste-side leak is via a toilet. Put some dye in all the toilet tanks to check toilets for leaks. If you find a leaky toilet, shut it off at the stop, and see if the meter slows down. If it does, the water is passing into the cold side somehow and finding its way to the toilet.

    You might try feeling waste lines to see if any of them are hot, or feeling the cold-water lines at fixtures with mixing valves to see if it's exiting the system via the cold side.

    Just how much water are we talking about here, though? Is it gallons per month, or day, or hour, or minute? Obviously, the bigger the leak, the easier it will be to find.
     
  15. Sep 7, 2018 #15

    jeffnc

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    Are you saying that water is back leaking out of the water heater into the cold water supply? I hadn't really considered that - is that common? If that is happening, then the cold water supply into the water heater would have to feel warm as well.
     
  16. Sep 7, 2018 #16

    Mikey

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    No, I'm saying that since water is going IN to the water heater, it must also be coming OUT somewhere. Water gets out of the WH in only 2 ways: 1) via the TPR valve, or 2) via the hot water outlet. Post #7 above asked about the TPR valve, which is the more likely, imho, but I don't see any reply from you. If it's going out the hot water side, you've got a leak on the hot water side, which could be a dishwasher (the only fixture that comes to mind that's connected to hot water only), or it could be leaking through a faulty mixing valve (like a shower, maybe) back into the cold-water system, and leaking out of there almost anywhere. Leaks out of the cold-water side either go into the ground somewhere (like a leaky hose bib), or into the waste system. If the latter, you might find a warm waste pipe somewhere to trace back. Leaking toilets are common, thus the recommendation for the dye check. I asked about the volume of water leaking because that might give some clues about where to look, and how hard it will be to find.
     
  17. Sep 7, 2018 #17

    jeffnc

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    Hadn't thought of a leaking mixing valve, but the pressure from the water heater and city water on the cold side should be the same, right? So I don't get how warm water could leak into the cold water side. I also don't get how a leaky toilet could be related. Unless again, you're saying the hot side is leaking into the cold side somehow.
     
  18. Sep 7, 2018 #18

    FishScreener

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    If you have a cold water leak, even if it is small, water will flow to it. If the leak is small you wouldn’t be able to pick up a pressure. Differential with out extremely sensitive pressure transducers.

    You need to start looking for heat. The hot water pipes will drop down to room temperature several hours after you last run water through it.

    Since you don’t see a leak you have to trace heat. You can get one of the noncontact laser aimed thermometers for under $30. And it may help.

    Tomorrow get up early before anyone runs any water, and touch the hot water line as close to every point of use as you can.

    Try turning off the water heater, and then disconnecting it. Does the meter still turn?

    Isolating small leaks can be a real pain. There are UV fluorescing dies you can introduce as close to the meter as possible. And then after a bit you can use a black light to find the dye, and thus the leak.
     
  19. Sep 7, 2018 #19

    Mikey

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    @FishScreener, he did say that closing the WH supply valve did stop the leak, so the leak is downstream from that valve. I like the "get up early" attack, and the recommendation of a noncontact IR thermometer ($12.17 at Walmart). He could also use that to measure the temperature of the incoming water lines at the toilets.

    The only clue we've got about volume is the "slowly slowly spinning" description of the meter, and the $60 extra charge. My meter measures in .01 cubic foot increments, or about 1 cup of water, and "slowly slowly spinning" to me would mean maybe a cup per minute, or about 100 gallons per day. This would double our normal usage, and our normal bill is about --tada-- $60. But we're billed bimonthly, so it may not represent his usage, but we're probably in the right ballpark. 100gpd should be findable.
     
  20. Sep 7, 2018 #20

    WyrTwister

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    We have a pier and beam house .

    A few years ago , we discovered , the hot water was continually running & the gas water heater never shut off .

    No visable leaks under the house or any where else .

    Under the house , the HW piping is burried in the dirt . Evidently that is where the leak was .

    so , I got out the torch , solder , flux , copper pipe & fittings and re-plumbed the HW .

    HW flow stopped ( when all was turned off ) & the flame on the gas waterheater would cycle off .

    Best of luck to you , :)
    Wyr
    God bless
     

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