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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-27-2017, 09:27 PM Thread Starter
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Default Question about broken main water pipe

We recently moved from Michigan to the mountains of N. Carolina for the summers. We were in our new NC place from about Nov 5 to Dec. 1 moving in and getting settled. We then winterized the house and left. A few days ago, I got an alert from the water company that we were using excess water at this NC home. This is a bit unusual since I had turned the main water valve off prior to leaving. I looked at the daily water consumption on line and saw that our usage of water went from 20-200 gallons a day to 900 gal/day for the last week we were there and steadily rose thru December to about 1450 gal/day for the last week before Xmas. The city came and shut the water off at the meter on Dec. 22nd and the water usage immediately dropped to zero. We have someone checking the house and they looked all through it and found no water anywhere in the house including none in the basement. This is not a surprise since the main valve where the water line enters the house was turned off.

The conclusion from this is that 1) I’m going to owe a big-a$$ water bill but, more importantly, the water pipe from the meter which is in the ground near the street to our house is leaking. This is only about 50 ft. This is really strange since it was leaking 400-900 gal/day for the last week we were there and I mowed the front yard just before we left and there was no mud, wetness, soft spots, etc. Since then, it has been leaking at a rate of ~1450 gal/day and the person checking our house says there is still no evidence of any water in the yard. The total water leaked out is about 25,500 gallons (3409 ft3 or roughly a 26 ft x 26 ft x 5’ deep swimming pool) that was over a period of about 1 month.

My questions for y’all are:

1.Could this much water drain down through the soil without evidence on the surface?
2.This one might be for the folks from that part of the country. How deep are the city water lines buried in the mountains of NC – elevation is about 2200 ft? I don’t think they would be too deep – maybe 24 inches.
3.How big a trench is needed for a repair to be made on this line? I plan to dig the trench by hand and if it just needs to be down to the pipe and 6” wide, that is not too big an effort.
4.Any advice on how this kind of repair is made? Does the entire pipe have to be replaced or do you just cut out the broken section and replace it with good pipe?


Thanks for any advice you can offer.

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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-28-2017, 05:06 AM
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Can't help u to much I live in East TN bout 3 hrs from Hendersonville your water line should be 2 ft min and could be a little deeper and depending on what kind of pipe used you could cut the bad spot out and use a nipple to go inside the pipe
If PVC pipe was used then you could use a couple to fix it

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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-28-2017, 05:31 AM
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I would think there would have to be water somewhere. Unless its leaking into a gigantic sinkhole. But the only way to tell is grab a spade and dig. Those Michigan pipes are 4 feet down.

Could be worse though. This woman got a 284 billion dollar electric bill lol.

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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-28-2017, 08:26 AM
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If your meter was registering water use then it must have been within the house after the valve not outside (are your certain the water was off at your meter?). My guess is that your toilet tank fill valve might have gotten stuck open or the flapper is bypassing and was running continuously. Another thing it could be was someone using your outside hose-bib?

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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-28-2017, 08:28 AM Thread Starter
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Sorry, I was not clear. This leak is at our new N. Carolina house not the one we are selling in Michigan. Different communities have different ways of dealing with water meters. In my NC community, the meter is located in a plastic "chest" located underground right next to the street in the front yard. There is a main water pipe (city owned), some sort of pipe from the main to the meter (city owned), the meter itself (city owned), and then the pipe from the meter to the house (my responsibility). I don't know the material of construction of any of these and can't look since I'm in Florida for the winter. There is a main shutoff inside the house right where the pipe passes through the basement wall and into the basement. This is the valve that I shut off.

I did NOT ask the city to shut off the water at the meter although, this would have been wise in hindsight. The leak is between the meter and the basement shutoff valve.

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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-28-2017, 08:35 AM
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Oh, ok that clears that up. Then yes I would agree that the leak is underground somewhere between the meter by the street and the house. Somewhere there is a hole under the grass that will eventually show as a sag in the ground. Not sure how deep the lines run but here because of the winter our lines are at least 5 ft below the surface.

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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-28-2017, 09:06 AM
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Born and raised in Chicago so all of our pipes we’re at least 48” deep. I would think you have a leak somewhere between the meter and the house. Surprised it doesn’t show up as a sag that’s quite visible. The only way to find out for sure is shut off the water to the house and turn on the water at the meter. See what happens. If no water flow them maybe you do have a simple flapper valve problem. Happy digging.

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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-28-2017, 10:46 AM
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Sixty gallons per hour. Rough equivalent to a standard size drum - each hour, around the clock. Ya think there would be evidence of a wet spot someplace. Where I live I'm sitting on rocks, gravel, sand, and a minuscule amount of clay mixed in. If I let a garden hose run the water flows for maybe 12 inches beyond the end of the hose then it disappears. It would do that all day long if I left a hose running. Is why we have very little as far as landscape plants go. No real "soil" for plants to take root in and grow. Takes too much water to get things to survive. I'd just have a new water line planted - by way of a backhoe - and be done with it. We do have water pirates around these parts. They steal water from whoever and wherever they can to support their clandestine marijuana grows. Vacant vacation homes are primary targets.

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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-28-2017, 11:43 AM Thread Starter
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This began occurring while we were still living in the home (last week of Nov.) and continued until I had the city shut the water off on Dec. 22 at the meter which is buried in a plastic chest near the street. During the time we were gone (Dec. 1) through the time I had the water turned off at the meter/street (Dec. 22), we used 900-1450 gal/day and during this time the main water line valve in the basement was turned off. Further, there was no water in the basement so the leak is outside. This is also in a gated community with observant neighbors so there is not water theft occurring.

Unfortunately, it sounds like I will need to replace the line from the meter to the street.

G'day,

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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-28-2017, 12:25 PM
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Default Water line broken

From the meter to the street is city problem to fix and their cost. From Meter to house is your cost to fix or at least that's the way it is where I live. Good luck on all that. I know I hate water problems anywhere.

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