View Full Version : leak detection and repair
09-11-2004, 12:47 PM
I have an underground leak somewhere in my front yard from a copper water main - 4 year old house! What is the going rate for leak detection? Any chance I can find the leak myself? The leak percolates underground ending up at the water meter box
09-11-2004, 02:43 PM
I have no idea of the going rate for electronic leak detection. I'm sure it won't be cheap, but nothing is. As to finding it yourself, sure you can. It will require digging down to the pipe and uncovering it until you find it. How deep is the pipe buried, what type of soil do you have, and your personal ability to do that type of work. If I were going at it, I'd try to determine as close as possible where the water seems to be coming up. Then I'd dig down to the pipe and uncover a couple of feet or so. Then you should be able to tell which side of you hole the leak is by where the water is coming into the test hole. What make this a "fun" job is the muck that makes digging a real b....h! Once you find the leak and uncover it, the task of repair remains. Now you have to figure out what caused it. It could be a poor solder connection or it could be any of a number of things. Try to remedy the cause before you repair. Cut the leak out, then cut a repair piece that will fit exactly in the opened space. Clean the pipes with emery cloth, apply flux and slide a coupler (the kind that do not have the stop nub in the center) over each end of the repair piece and put it in place. Flux the other two pipe endsand work the coupler over them. It would be wise to mark on those two pipes just how far you need to slide the couplers. Then solder all 4 joints. Now it's possible the pro plumbers have a better system, but that would work. The other way to do the job is to write a check.
In this area, the leak detectors seem to have settled on $150.00 for locating a residential leak. This is irrespective of the time required to locate it. Your area could be similar, or they could charge by the time required, but I think you should budget at least that much for the service. Fixing it is a different matter and will depend on a lot of variables. But are you sure it is a copper line. If PVC was used for the main part of the line, it would still have copper, at least 3') at both ends and that could be what you see. If that is the case, the leak will usually be at one of the ends where the copper connects to the PVC pipe.
09-13-2004, 10:14 AM
I'm pretty sure copper -I dug out the first 3 feet of the connection between the water main and my piping and it's still copper - also, still no leak found. Unfortunately, my yard slopes down towards the street. Conceivably, the leak could be anywhere uphill and draining downhill towards the water main.
What a mess - digging in mud is horrendous. I'm in sacramento, btw - I need to call around and see how much leak detection cost.
09-13-2004, 09:58 PM
we had another plumber come out today for an estimate on leak detection. He too was shocked that the copper plumbing gave out so soon in a new house (3 years!) and suggested to us that it was probably a shoddy job on soldering the 90 degree bends somewhere. He indicated that the leak detection usually runs $300 - $400 in this area (something about mapping the line, then injecting air or CO2, then electronic detection??)
He also told us to try to get our original subcontractor to come out and look at it because it should not have failed so soon. Our plumbing warranty ended at 2 years but perhaps if it's a gross error in workmanship, they will honor that.
thanks for the venting
09-14-2004, 12:28 AM
After the meter connection the next most likely place for the leak is where it enters the structure. If you have a basement the ground may have settled and is pinching the line where it enters the basement. If a crawl space then where it goes under the foundation. Dig next to the house and enjoy this. You own you own home. :eek:
Unless the pipe is more than 100' feet long, there should not be any 90's or any other fittings/joints in the pipe. Once the warranty expires the contractor is "off the hook" and he will not enjoy spending money and time to locate the leak, much less dig it up and repair it "free". Even if the first 3' is copper that does not mean the rest of it is. They were required to install at least that much copper before changing to plastic, and sometimes they even install 5' or more if that is the length of pipe they had.
09-15-2004, 05:05 AM
Not all jurisdictions require the copper at each end of the service. Mine does not. We did require copper at the house but dropped it a couple of code cycles past because we were fixing the copper as often as the PE. Poor builder compaction continues but we're supposed to pack under our pipes.