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Discussion Starter #1
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.

G'day,

Vinish
 

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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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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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Discussion Starter #5
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.

G'day,

Vinish
 

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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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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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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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Discussion Starter #9
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,

Vinish
 

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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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You may find you have a large hole somewhere that has not opened up yet. Be carefull when you get back with where you park the car. Our neighbors had a similar problem and one day the whole front yard fell into a hole 15 ft deep 6ft wide.
 

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As you figured out; everything on the house side of the meter is the owners responsibility. You said 50' between meter and shut off valve at the house. Okay; it has to be between those two spots.

This is where hiring a reputable, no nonsense, plumber comes in. I'm not a plumber so I can't offer you a solution but basic common sense tells me you have a few basic options.

Or rather the plumber will... dig the entire 50' line up using a backhoe to find the leak and replace the line while you have it open, use sensors to find the leak and replace just that section after digging it up by hand, or bypass the existing line by digging down to where the line intersects just after the meter and just before the house valve.

So please, my curiosity is up now, let us know what the plumber says is the best solution in this case. Inquiring minds would really like to know. :)

Without actually seeing the property and how much room there is to work with; the fastest and probably best way would be to dig another 2.5' trench then lay in some soft fill for the pipe to lay on then some gravel to cover it by a few inches so the next time a backhoe can be used to locate the line without breaking it. Of course this assumes a good backhoe operator. Something like this could simply use a Kubota or other equally small unit on tracks.

 

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Have no idea what your property looks like or what the ground water situation is like there.
First step is to find out where the line broke. I know that is hard to do if you are not there but if it broke right at or near the foundation wall you need to know.


Even if the pipe broke right at the foundation wall that may not be a problem. It depends on the codes in affect at the time the house was built which would effect the design of the foundation. Even if the local codes don't require it, if water naturally flows through the soil there near the surface, the foundation will likely have had drainage installed. Perforated pipe covered with a mesh in a moat of crushed stone with some sort of dirt barrier over the top would have been installed around the perimeter of the foundation before they were back filled. These often drain to a lower spot on the property. Sometimes to a creek or ditch. They generally can handle a lot of water when properly constructed because in the rainy season they often do. If this is how your foundation was constructed your most likely good.

If the pipe broke at the house foundation wall and the water has been flowing down your foundation wall and the wall doesn't have an adequate drainage system that could be a problem, but only if it flowed under the foundation and not away from it as it perked into the soil. If it flowed under the wall and undermined it you will need to get some support down there reasonably quickly to keep your house and foundation from being damaged.

If the water flowed down the wall then turned away from the foundation before it got to the footing all is good.
If it was flowing down the wall, you or someone will need to dig a hole and follow the water channel and see which way the water decided to go. If you get to that point you might take a look at your home insurance policy and see if it covers any portion of the expense involved.
Just something to be aware of. Hopefully it broke somewhere else.
 

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So far as the fix for the line it depends on what you have and why it failed.
If the previous owners movers backed a moving truck over the shallowly buried line in the wet season and cracked a coupling on a PVC line the fix is not to bad. PVC seems to hold up pretty good as long as the sun can't get to it. Mostly you can just repair them. Replace a couple of feet and the offending coupling and your good to go. Ask me if that is the case. I have a trick that will save you some digging and stress.

If you dig it out and it is a over the hill galvanized line or a heavily corroded copper line it's time to just dig it out and replace the whole thing or temporarily fix it and schedule a replacement.
 

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Check with your city about the bill. I had a pipe burst inside my home when I was away and they had a one time exception for half off the bill. Spend the extra money and do the whole run rather than patching and waiting for it to happen again. The pipe run was done at the same time so the rest of the pipe is just as old and possibly as weak as the point of rupture.
 
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