I have a hidden water main leak


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Old 02-14-17, 06:01 PM
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I have a hidden water main leak

it's in the main line coming in and there's a real problem.

Where the water line comes in there's a masonry stairway and small porch. I cannot move it or get under it. It is also under the walkway.

I can shut off the valve right inside the house and hear water leaking just outside the wall.

This is a 80 year old Baltimore City row home with about a 12 inch concrete foundation.

I want to cut into the wall from the inside, dig a couple of feet into the dirt and repair the line and re-mortar.

I know that replacing the whole line from the meter is best but I cannot afford that.

I plan to cut out the wall, call a plumber to fix the leak and then re-mortar.

Any ideas would be appreciated!

Thanks!

Chuck
 
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Old 02-14-17, 06:23 PM
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Two thoughts:

Some plumbers have equipment that can pull a new plastic line through the old line, breaking up the old line along the way. It would involve excavating outside to access the line, but otherwise is a fairly straightforward process.

Second, if you open the wall into the area where the water has been leaking, you may very well get a ton or two of mud in your basement, undermining your stairway and porch in the process. Not something I would gamble on. You would be better off digging down to the line at the closest point of access and running a new line through whatever route is possible. If there is no route to run a new line, then see option one.
 
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Old 02-15-17, 04:09 AM
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Thank you for that info....

The house beside mine is leaking as well I would imagine his occurred simultaneously as both of our water bills spiked.

The address of my house is XXXXXX Baltimore, Maryland.

On instantstreetview.com you can see the water meter is right in between the two houses that it feeds and the water lines go right up underneath the two walkways and masonry porches.

I'm very worried about this.

I only have one person living there so I am able to shut off the water for the entire day except for 20 minutes she needs to bathe, so I am limiting the flow of water.

Thanks again for any and all advice.
 

Last edited by Pilot Dane; 02-15-17 at 05:33 AM. Reason: removed address
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Old 02-15-17, 05:38 AM
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I removed your address to protect your privacy.

What is your water line made of? Copper, lead steal?

I know you said you don't have the money but I really think replacing the entire line is the best option. After all it is one of the costs of home ownership. If you are able to fix the leaking spot it's quite likely that you'll have another leak in the near future. And, I don't think you will be able to make a repair through a hole cut in the basement wall. You underestimate the room it will take to work on the line. In the end you will have a major excavation and risk the stairs coming down on you in the cave.

Also even though you "think" the leak is just on the other side of the wall it's possible the leak is somewhere else. The water can travel down the outside of the pipe and you just hear it near the basement wall.

A new water line does not have to follow the old. If pulling a new line along the path of the old is too expensive then the line can be re-routed around the stairs to enter your basement somewhere else.
 
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Old 02-15-17, 10:23 AM
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I agree with Pilot Dane, I don't think you'll be able to excavate under the porch and actually repair the pipe.

An idea though, if you can make a 4" hole in your foundation (with a stone foundation, I'm not quite sure the best way to do that, you can try something else:
I would get a 1.5" steel pipe, thread on a reducer or two to get it to a 1/2" "point", then try to hammer it through under the porch. Dig a hole in front of the porch where this pipe will come out. This technique is used for tunneling wires and pipes under a sidewalk, and may work for you. Then use this as a sleeve to run a new PEX pipe through.

Regardless, you'll really need to run a new pipe, there's really no way around it.
 
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Old 02-15-17, 07:03 PM
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I appreciate all of the advise and if you have more I really need it.

Thank you again...
 
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Old 02-15-17, 10:03 PM
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Exactly what the others said, no need to make a repair just do a new line an re-route in a more sensible manner. There are companies out there that do trenchless water lines where they just dig a couple of holes and shoot and a mole powered by an air compressor. I've done this. Depending on distance your looking at $1,200-$4,000. But do it in black poly pipe it's the. 1/3 of the cost of copper.

Sean
 
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Old 02-16-17, 05:27 AM
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And poly can last longer than copper. Anything metal, whether it be galvanized steel or copper, in the ground can corrode.
 
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Old 02-19-17, 05:22 PM
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I appreciate all of the info. My stomach is churning less as a result!!

Thanks again!!!
 
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Old 02-20-17, 05:13 AM
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In my town, if a leak is repaired, you can write a letter to the water dept. explaining that there was a leak and that it was repaired. They will look at previous water bills and adjust your recent, high bill to a more normal amount.
 
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Old 02-25-17, 05:52 PM
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Thank you again for all of the advice!!!!!
 
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Old 02-26-17, 05:33 AM
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you can write a letter to the water dept. explaining that there was a leak and that it was repaired. They will look at previous water bills and adjust your recent, high bill to a more normal amount.
The water dept that services my house does the same thing. I used it once, all I had to do was talk to them in person. They did say it was a one time adjustment although I suspect that resets after so many years. I've heard in the city if you fill a pool they will give you a break on the sewer bill.
 
 

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