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  • Leak location

    Just thought I would relate how I found this leak and maybe get some pointers on leak location in the process.

    Customer called, had water leaking onto his driveway.(see photo). This is an old photo that I had of the house so, no water in picture. I started at the left end of the brick wall and covered the driveway to the right about 10 ft and away from the house about 10 ft. The yard abutts the driveway starting at the left edge of the 1st step in the photo and going all the way to the street (about 80 ft.)
    There water was not moving, it had just soaked that area of the drive.
    Water would ooze through the cracks in the drive near this area when you walked on it.
    If you were to stand in the middle of the front step in the photo and look towards the street you would see the water meter directly in front of you about 80 ft away.
    He has an irrigation system with 6 underground solenoids located about 20 ft from the left corner of this picture.
    He just had all of his gutters replaced. A new 4" drain line of black corrugated pipe ended at the drive next to the left end of the brick wall.(this photo was taken pre-drain)
    There was no water coming out of the drain.
    The main water service is pvc.
    1. I checked the water meter for movement. Yup. About 2.5 gallons every 5 min.
    2. I checked the irrigation valve boxes. No water in them.
    3. I turned off the r.p.device for the irrigation system. Didn't stop the movement.
    4. I turned off the in house cut-offs (two of them). Didn't stop the movement.

    So, the leak is on the main water service. I use my "magic" plumber wires to guess which way the pipe may go. (you know, two bent wires that cross when walking over the pipe). Sometimes you gotta start somewhere.

    5. I have a Gen-ear listener and deployed it. No luck (I usually don't have much luck with that thing)
    6. I start introducing 2000 lbs of helium into the #2 test cock of the rp device (#1 cock on the side of the ball valve is missing.)
    7 I walk and listen.

    The helium goes in slowly but soon speeds up, indicating it has found the hole in the pipe.
    I walk and listen....nothing. I think....OOPS!! I run to the water meter and sure enough, the meter is moving backwards at a fast clip. The helium is going back into the city. (Someone downstream is going to get a surprise!)
    I turn off the meter. I'm down to 500 lbs of helium in the tank. It's still going in slowly. I walk and listen.

    Finally, bingo, I hear "blub, blub, blub," near the curve in that left brick wall. I dig down there and bubbles and water are escaping all in the hole--from under the slab of that first landing.
    I plug in the gen-ear and pinpoint the sound just about in the middle of that first landing.
    I had a stone mason out today to cut a couple of the stone up. We started breaking the slab underneath and it's at leat 8 inches. Our electric Bosch "brute" won't handle it. I have an air compressor and jack hammer being delivered tomorrow. More pics then.
    Whew! Sorry for all the typos.
    Any suggestions on how I could have facilitated this hunt?
    Attached Files
    "Man will do many things to get himself loved, he will do all things to get himself envied." Mark Twain

  • #2
    Re: Leak location

    Be careful with those meters as they are not made for that much pressure. We use to carry nitrogen on the truck to pressurize the tough leaks. Another suggestion is to use a long 5/16" masonry bit in the mortar joints before you pull the bricks. Usually you can drill a few holes and narrow down the area quite fast.

    Mark
    "Somewhere a Village is Missing Twelve Idiots!" - Casey Anthony

    I never lost a cent on the jobs I didn't get!

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Leak location

      Cool idea with the helium.
      Water Heater Reviews & Water Heater Information

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Leak location

        Originally posted by ToUtahNow View Post
        Be careful with those meters as they are not made for that much pressure. We use to carry nitrogen on the truck to pressurize the tough leaks. Another suggestion is to use a long 5/16" masonry bit in the mortar joints before you pull the bricks. Usually you can drill a few holes and narrow down the area quite fast.

        Mark

        My helium outlet pressure was only about 95 lbs. The street water pressure in that area usually runs 80 to 100 lbs!
        "Man will do many things to get himself loved, he will do all things to get himself envied." Mark Twain

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Leak location

          slimtim, the first procedure in leak locating is establishing the path of the pipe. we know the leak will be on this path. this is the area we need to be directing our leak locater to.

          throw out your wires and buy a pipe locater.

          why helium? it's expensive and is a gas that will show up with a helium sniffer. you don't own that sniffer, why use helium. helium is great for minute leaks.

          i either use an air tank/ compressor, or co2. but first i will trace the line and narrow down the search path.

          rick.
          phoebe it is

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Leak location

            Originally posted by PLUMBER RICK View Post
            slimtim, the first procedure in leak locating is establishing the path of the pipe. we know the leak will be on this path. this is the area we need to be directing our leak locater to.

            throw out your wires and buy a pipe locater.

            why helium? it's expensive and is a gas that will show up with a helium sniffer. you don't own that sniffer, why use helium. helium is great for minute leaks.

            i either use an air tank/ compressor, or co2. but first i will trace the line and narrow down the search path.

            rick.

            What model locater will locate pvc pipe?
            "Man will do many things to get himself loved, he will do all things to get himself envied." Mark Twain

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Leak location

              SlimTim, I also have a Gen-Ear leak detector. I find the thing is next to useless on finding leaks in PVC water lines. If you don't have a good idea of how the lines run, you can't do much with the Gen-Ear.

              Rick, how would a pipe locater help with PVC water lines? My understanding of the equipment is they transmit a signal down a metal pipe, and you locate the signal, telling you where the pipe is. Is there something I have been missing about them?

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Leak location

                Originally posted by SlimTim View Post
                What model locater will locate pvc pipe?
                i missed the pvc sentence

                there are units that will pulse water/ thump to allow for listening and tracing the main. typically you will need to connect this inline with the water main.

                any chance of disconnecting the main at the meter and pushing in a fishtape or copper wire. hopefully it's a straight run?

                rick.
                phoebe it is

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Leak location

                  Unless you own a pulse-generator the way to go is to pressurize the line and use your leak locator. I prefer the metro-tech locators to the Gen-Ear put they cost a lot more.

                  Mark
                  "Somewhere a Village is Missing Twelve Idiots!" - Casey Anthony

                  I never lost a cent on the jobs I didn't get!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Leak location

                    Originally posted by PLUMBER RICK View Post
                    i missed the pvc sentence

                    there are units that will pulse water/ thump to allow for listening and tracing the main. typically you will need to connect this inline with the water main.

                    any chance of disconnecting the main at the meter and pushing in a fishtape or copper wire. hopefully it's a straight run?

                    rick.
                    Maybe your meters in CA are easy to get to and disconnect and reconnect-not here. They're a pain. It was probably 100' to the first turn-maybe my flat sewer tape would fit yuk. I would rather spot dig. I think I'll pick the wires back up that I threw out at your recommendation.

                    But seriously, thanks for the info on the co2. I'll check into that. The tank is easier to haul around than an air compressor.
                    "Man will do many things to get himself loved, he will do all things to get himself envied." Mark Twain

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Leak location

                      Originally posted by ToUtahNow View Post
                      Unless you own a pulse-generator the way to go is to pressurize the line and use your leak locator. I prefer the metro-tech locators to the Gen-Ear put they cost a lot more.

                      Mark

                      If they cost more than the Gen-Ear then they are WAY too much.
                      "Man will do many things to get himself loved, he will do all things to get himself envied." Mark Twain

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Leak location

                        Originally posted by SlimTim View Post
                        If they cost more than the Gen-Ear then they are WAY too much.

                        My set up is just shy of $5,000 but it is computerized and has 10 adjustable filters plus stores the previous 10-readings. While I have never tried it it is suppose to find a drip at 15' deep. I did have a slab leak in Las Vegas which was 4' deep and never leaked above the slab but you could clock the meter to document a small leak and the owner could tell the floor was slightly warmer in an area. When I found the leak it was barely more than a drip but I was dead on. The locator is really over-kill for the average plumber and I would not recommend it but for what I do it is perfect.

                        Mark
                        "Somewhere a Village is Missing Twelve Idiots!" - Casey Anthony

                        I never lost a cent on the jobs I didn't get!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Leak location

                          The locator is really over-kill for the average plumber and I would not recommend it but for what I do it is perfect.

                          Mark[/quote]

                          I don't know Mark, if you say it works that good I bet it would be worth it for a plumber. We have few houses on slab and I turn water main work over to friends of mine with the equipment. So for me not so much but I've seen a lot of big holes get dug because nobody could find the leak. places on a slab would be awesome to know exactly ware to bust concrete. I didn't know they made something so accurate.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Leak location

                            Originally posted by saysflushable View Post
                            I didn't know they made something so accurate.
                            accuracy is only as good as the person who is using it.

                            i've seen real big holes dug for sewer repairs that were located by a navitract.

                            it wasn't the navitract that was off, it was the user

                            rick.
                            phoebe it is

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Leak location

                              Originally posted by saysflushable View Post
                              I don't know Mark, if you say it works that good I bet it would be worth it for a plumber. We have few houses on slab and I turn water main work over to friends of mine with the equipment. So for me not so much but I've seen a lot of big holes get dug because nobody could find the leak. places on a slab would be awesome to know exactly ware to bust concrete. I didn't know they made something so accurate.
                              I guess what I was trying to say was I can generally limit my break out in a slab home to 12" X 12" using a $1,000 Goldak with the upgraded mic ( ). So while the $5,000 locator makes me look smarter I am really using it for other things.

                              Mark

                              BTW: Rick is likely the only one who understands the
                              "Somewhere a Village is Missing Twelve Idiots!" - Casey Anthony

                              I never lost a cent on the jobs I didn't get!

                              Comment

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