It's all water under the slab

lucas_tx_gwMarch 19, 2013

Well things were going spectacularly smoothly for us, so I guess it was time we hit a snag.

We had to open some walls to move electric for range and frig and icemaker for frig and that all went fine.

The sheetrockers left a lot of dust on the now bare floor as most of you can imagine but then we noticed that in one area, the dust because mud and stayed that way.

Arrgggh....a slab leak and tiny one at that.

You might be thinking that a tiny one is good, but that's not the case, as that makes it very hard to locate.

I'd thought I'd share a few details in case anyone has a similar issue.

DH is a home inspector so uses a guage to check water pressure in houses, so we cut off the water at the main, turned everything off, put the gauge on and waited for the pressure to drop. Which it did, but at a miniscule rate. But enough that we were pretty sure there was a leak on the presssure side.

Step 2 was a leak finder guy who basically does the same thing but then pumps the system full of air and then uses some special microphones to listen for the sound of air escaping. Unfortunately he thought he heard it for a minute in one area but then it stopped, and the pressure stopped dropping. Apparently some small debris had temporarily plugged the leak.

Step 3 was we mapped out the areas where the water came into the house and where the hot and cold runs were and took our best guess at which run was leaking based on the wet spot. This was hard and involved finding and calling the PO who actually built the house 30 years and then put on a second story 20 years ago to ask him what if any plumbing changes they made, as we have no plans.

Then we had to open the walls to access the manifolds behind the hot water heaters and the plumber took the manfolds apart and we started systematically checking one section of pipe at a time by capping them, pumping them full of air and then waiting for the pressure to drop. There were a few tense moments when the suspect area didn't drop pressure at first, because if it wasn't that section, it meant we were somehow off base on what went where but luckily it did begin a slow steady drop.

Now comes the fun part. To fix a slab leak you basically have 3 choices, jack hammer up the slab ($1700/hole plus you have to know exactly where the leak is, which we didn't), tunnel under house to fix it ($6,000 for the tunnel, plus again you have to know where the exact leak is) or perform a cardiac bypass on your house.

Surgery was clearly the best option for us, and luckily our great plumber and the DH were able to come up with a route for the new pipes that did minimal damage to the sheet rock. The only place we had to cut (besides the holes already made for the tests) was in the cement board that was put up for the area behind the sink and since you never see that it was a no brainer.

Grand central station..plumber and glass guys at the house at the same time

New plumbing coming off kitchen sink location

Next step will be to test again and be sure it is holding pressure. The fun news is that there can be more than one leak! Hopefully though since we bypassed the leaky section, we're OK, at least for now!

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jellytoast

Is anyone else unable to read the OP's post because ads are covering it up?

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 10:25AM
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live_wire_oak

And that's why we abandoned all of the plumbing in the slab and just re-ran everything through the attic. Given the state of the copper pipes, small slow leaks were the future after the first one was found. Copper in concrete is a BAD idea, and yet it's still being done. At least with PVC, the chances of it leaking are infintessimal pas the first turn on under pressure. With copper in concrete, it's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when the inevitable happens.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 10:29AM
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lucas_tx_gw

Everything around here is on slabs but I think all the new houses are being being built with PECs which is probably less reactive with the concrete and theoretically stretches rather breaks if it freezes, so that definitely seems to be the wave of the futue.

We aren't thrilled that ours exited the slab without any kind of protecton around them which I think ideally they do but for now I guess it's one step at a time.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 10:38AM
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suzanne_sl

Thank goodness for a crawl space under the house for the plumbing. Yowsers! Something to keep in mind if you're buying a new house.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 12:04PM
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chiefneil

We had a similar situation about 6 months after moving in to our new house. I noticed the hardwood bubbling and warping in one area. It turned out that a pipe (yes, copper) was kinked where it came up out of the slab and had been slowly leaking for a while.

Similar to what you did, the plumbers just rerouted the water into new pipes running through the walls and attic. What a huge pita the whole thing was, it probably cost over 10k in repairs but my builder covered all of it. We had to replace both hardwood and also cabinets in the adjoining laundry room.

Water leaks suck. We had 3-4 leaks in the first year we moved in.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 1:25PM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9b

We had the same problem, and ran the piping up into the attic, but the worst thing was when we lifted the carpet to replace, we found huge heaving cracks in the slab, and a structural engineer made us replace the slab in 2 big rooms!! This was thousands of unexpected dollars!

Beware of planting trees with invasive roots next to your home.

Happy you got your leak fixed. We haven't started our kitchen remodel yet, and I'm crossing my fingers it all goes smoothly!

Suzi

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 1:42PM
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