Water leak at pipe /connector in the water meter box on my side

escarMarch 5, 2012

Sorry if this is too long a post; I've been told that there are both professional

plumbers and advanced do it yourselfers who particiapate in the forums and they expect the information to be

as complete as possible, especially from those not experienced in plumbing like myself.

So thats why its longer than it probably should be, since I don't know how little or how much info to




I have a water leak in a pipe or connector at or near the water meter at the street, probably on my side.

I want to provide some info and photos/videos and ask your opinions and advice before I start

calling companies to repair it, to see:

a. if its something that might be fixed at the site of the leak without needing to do a complete replacement of the

entire line from meter to house, with assumption here that its older galvanized pipe -

(I don't want to do a complete replacement for financial reasons and that

there will be no value add to house by doing it if not have to, and in addition, it would mean needing to dig

up or go under a curving driveway that is completely in the path of the water line from street to house)

b. if it just might be at a place that is responsibility of the water department.

c. if it can't be fixed at the spot of the leak and does need complete replacement, suggestions on how to

approach doing that and asking the right questions to the plumbers.

d. what the piece of pipe or connector where the leak is, is called.



Please refer to the pictures and videos I posted at the picasaweb photo sharing site:


At the site, you can do the following:

a. click on name of this album "water meter leak" and are taken to that page with the photos/videos.

b. click on each photo to view or you can do a slideshow and within it, can set

delay time or stop/start as needed.

c. The last 2 thumbnails on that page of pictures, the ones with black borders, are videos.

Click on each one and a video viewer comes up - you can change speed and do full

screen viewing as needed.

d. In the 2 videos, about halfway thru, it starts to look blurred; this is just me

turning around and taking the box from the opposite side, in a few seconds the video will show

this view also.

e. I took from several views and zooms, also took videos to show I hope the flow of

the leaking water.

f. The parts that show the water meter street side are just for your reference in context

of the entire meter box.



1. There is a leak that seems to be only at or near the water meter, on my side. The water meter is attached to a pipe that goes a few inches and then there seems to be

a raised area (don't know if this is a compression fitting or some other kind of connection or just part of the same pipe)

This continues under the edge of the meter box, and I guess either it connects to the first of the

pipes that eventually go to the house, or that its part of the first of the pipes that go to the house.

a. I can see the water coming into and filling up the water meter box from under the edge of the meter box,

where this piece of pipe goes under that edge towards the house. (see photos/videos)

b. My friend who knows just a bit about plumbing, felt this piece of pipe as it goes under the edge of the wall of the

meter box towards the house and said he felt the leak there, and for me not to touch that area

at all, for fear of making it worse or crumbing completely. And suggested to contact the forum.

c. I bailed the water out of the meter box in order to take the pictures.

(videos show a bit the flow of the leak coming into the meter box)

2. In the pictures, its that part right under the edge of the meter box, on my side, where

the pipe disappears from view, that seems to be where the leak is coming from, but I don't

know completely if that part or piece is the only problem or how far up that piece the problem extends.

3. The water pressure and flow into house is still ok, though for sure the water

usage has increased a lot due to this leak.

4. I realize the leak might be perhaps also further up towards the house, since

there is a slight slope from the house down the driveway to the meter box,

but the only soggy or even damp area I see is a soggy one about in a 2 foot square at and near the meter

box, which makes sense since the water is filling up the meter box as well .

5. The leak seems to be on my side, although its not completely clear yet, that is,

a. water department says its responsibilites are:

- the connection to the water supply main at the street

- the service line from the main to the inlet side shut off valve (curb stop or angle stop).

- the water meter, water meter box and the outlet side coupling.

---> I don't know if the outlet side coupling (see pictures) is where the leak is or

if its further on towards my side.

b. I have not had them out yet as afraid that even turning off the valve at the meter might put

pressure on the leaky area and push it over.

And also afraid they might view the soggy area as a leak in which they will want/need to

turn off the water anyway, though on phone they say they won't do this.

6. I don't know if a car or truck going over the meter box cover might have borne down into

the box and pushed the concrete edge of the box against the pipe, since leak appears to be right where the edge of

the concrete box is and perhaps that edge was pushed against the pipe, or

perhaps its just corroded there and not crushed and its just conincidence related to trucks going over the


That is, with a curved sidewalk that makes it easy for a vehicle to come up on the curb, and with

the box right at and alongside the rather narrow driveway,

and lots of trucks doing work on other houses from time to time, that I have seen them

pull into my driveway or back up into the driveway, as part of turning around, and going

over the meter box cover.

7. The driveway curves around - it starts straight from street then curves to the left to the

garage that is on the side -- thus after about 20 feet of dirt going from meter box towards the house,

there about 25 feet of driveway between the meter and the house,

thus any fix would need to either dig up the driveway or go under it.

8. For now water the pressure and flow in house is ok;

of course the leak itself is getting expensive but am trying to learn

as much as I can quickly about the next steps and its stressful to say the least.

9. We are older and my wife has medical problems, and I have been laid off for

quite a while and thus very low savings. Am explaining this just in context that

if the fix for this involves needing to replace all pipe, it will be very difficult.

And since the house will be torn down and replaced after us, there is no value added to the house

for doing a complete repiping/replacing of all pipe from the meter to the house, if it can be fixed

in another way.

10. I am guessing the pipe is galvanized, and am guessing its old, though still don't know if

the leak is from just the age of it or being so close to water meter

connection or if when some big trucks have gone over it as they turned around

in my narrow driveway with the meter right next to the driveway edge, if they pressed down on the

meter and the box moved onto the pipe.

But I don't know for sure if it is galvanized, since can only see in the meter box itself - see the pictures

and videos.

House itself is from the 1950s, but don't know if any replacement was ever done of pipe to house.

Am hoping here to see if there is a clue in the photos that might indicate the rest of the pipe

is galvanized or not. The house was built in the 1950s. I don't know if the pipes to house were ever


11. I have some questions to ask for your comments or advice on below, based on the info in this section and

the pictures/videos.



1. From the photos, what is the piece of pipe called that goes under the water meter box wall on my side --

is it part of the piece that connects to the meter itself


is it some separate coupling or other kind of connector that connects to piece that goes

into the meter ?


is it the beginning of some long run of pipe towards the house ?

That is, in the pictures, I see the meter on my side is connected to a piece, and then after an inch or two,

it seems like there is a raised area that has brown rust on it, and it seems

this part goes further on, right under the meter box edge where it disappears.

Thats supposedly where the leak is and thats the part am trying to find out what it is.

Or perhaps its all one piece from where it connects to meter and onward under

the meter box towards the house ?

a. Is this visible piece(s) galvanized ?

b. and if so, does it give any clue that the rest of the piping to the house is galvanized) ?

c. Is the connection to meter on my side that is visible in pictures a typical connection ?

2. Assuming the leak is really at the place where it goes under the edge of the meter box --

could the leak be related to what the water department is responsible for ?

a. the water department says its responsibilites are:

- the connection to the water supply main at the street

- the service line from the main to the inlet side shut off valve (curb stop or angle stop).

- the water meter, water meter box and the outlet side coupling.

---> Could the place where the leak appears to be be viewed as part of the outlet side coupling ?

3. Soggy area near meter

The only soggy area I see is one in about a 2 foot square at and near the meter

box, which makes sense since the water is filling up the meter box as well.

I realize the leak might be perhaps also further up towards the house, since

there is a slight slope from the house down the driveway to the meter box.

But am wondering, if this was the case, would there also be some soggy areas

there too ? (where pipes go under driveway starts about 20 feet from meter box)

---> Based on above info, does it seem that the leak is just at that piece of pipe location noted above at

edge of meter box ? (and in pictures)

4. Do the pictures/videos and info above give any clue that a spot fix might be doable ?

if the leak is at/near the piece in the photos that goes under the edge of the meter box)

and assuming the pipe here is galvanized ?

I realize that just in having the pipe and box dug up, that it could move other pipes that might

be on borderline of leaking or breaking. And that in doing this, the costs could mount up; I don't know if

these costs would come close to cost of full replacement from meter to house however ?

And I realize that the pictures/video show a very small part and only up to where it goes under the edge of

the meter box on my side.

5. If a spot fix might be done, and if it is galvanized pipe, can a fix be done right at the part thats

leaking vs needing to cut or unscrew and then replace an entire long length of pipe, that would require

more digging up just to get to ?

And in any case, can there be a problem in digging under the meter box, or taking it out if needed, to do the

repair ? (I don't know if the water department allows this or not)

6. Maybe trucks going over the water meter box cover (which has happenend quite a bit) might have borne down into

the meter box and pushed the concrete edge of the meter box on my side against the pipe where the leak is,

since leak appears to be right where the edge of

the concrete box is and perhaps that edge was pushed against the pipe, or

perhaps its just corroded there and not crushed.

Does it look like that might have happenned from the pictures ?

7. Galvanized pipe repair problems in general

a. is it that with older galvanized pipe, versus copper or pvc, that in touching some piece of it or moving it as part

of digging up some other part of it, that any weaknesses already there would more likely become holes and leaks ?

(thus there could be a domino effect of more problems in doing this ?)

b. For fixing leaks in galvanized pipe, do they need to dig up and take out full lengths of it from one connection to

another versus just fixing at the spot of a leak ?

(I realize that just in finding where some actual leak might be, that digging has to occur)

8. Questions about if need to replace the entire pipe from meter to house vs a repair at the leak itself

(repiping, if thats the correct term for outside work)

I realize from a textbook view, that probably many would say the entire line

should be repiped or replaced in any case, with copper pipe --

but as a low income, older person, laid off, little savings - just can't afford it.

And since the house will not be bought again, but will be torn down and new one

built once we are not there, there is no advantage to outside repiping for adding to its value that way.)

NOTE - the driveway curves around - it starts straight from street then curves to the left to the

garage that is on the side, ie a 90 degree bend -- thus there is 15-25 feet of driveway between the meter and the house,

thus any fix would need to either dig up the driveway or go under it; there is no path between the meter and

the house shut off valve that is not past this driveway.

a. given that the driveway is in the way, what might be the least cost method, ie trenchless vs digging up

ground and large section of driveway ?

(by trenchless, I mean that I read they have tools/machines that can burrow under concrete without needing to

dig it up except for entrance and exit holes)

b. can pvc be used vs copper ?

I still have to find out if its legal here to have pvc used instead

of copper - the city said whatever is legal in the california plumbing code,

and I although I have tried to look it up on web, have had no luck so far. I saw at Home Depot the big

difference in price of pvc and copper.

c. would rerouting the pipe from meter to house be better and less expensive than digging up old pipe and

replacing in that exact line ?

d. I read there also is the kind of repiping where they use epoxy or other sprays to fix existing pipe

and also, some way that they bore the new pipe thru the old pipe, but its not clear yet if local companies do

this kind of work.

e. do they ever route some temporary piping from water main to house shutoff valve while they are doing the work

so one can use water at times during the repiping job, or do people usually need to move out of their homes

for those days or bring in lots of water and portable toilets ?

f. am guessing the cost of the complete replacement would be a lot more than a spot fix,

but I guess if spot fix can't be done and they need to keep digging up pipe to find a stable

place to repair it, and if some of that goes under the driveway, then in effect seems like

a complete replacement would be happening anyway ?

g. I think that for a complete replacement, not sure if for a spot fix, that inspections and permits need to

happen and be paid for and realize that could add a lot to the cost ?

9. What other things should I be considering and asking about related getting this specific leak fixed ?

I'm going a bit crazy with all these new words and vocabulary and the stress

is taking a toll on our health now, due mostly of course to financial

situation if a complete replacement is needed and fear of not having water and needing to quickly decide on what

to do for what to us is a lot of money, even for a repair.

10. Any ideas on the right questions and words to use in talking with the plumbers or repipers so I can ask

the correct questions and use the correct terms when I'm calling to get estimates or when they come out ?

I don't want to sound too dumb about all of this.

11. Also, I am concerned that with whatever repair is made, especially if

its completely replacing all the pipes to the house, that the resulting water pressure to house

might be improved, but perhaps this could damage older pipes in house that might not

be used to having that pressure, and I want to avoid that.

The flow and pressure in house now is just fine.

---> What kind of things should I say to those doing the work to let them know about

this, and what kind of things should they be doing in this case ?

12. About asking the water department to come out and take a look to see if it might be on their side and

just to get their feedback on the situation:

I asked the water department that, if they came out, would they

cut off the water if they saw a leak on my side, since I'd read or heard that they could

and often would cut water off if they saw a leak on my side.

They said that if the leak was very large and might damage property of others, they would

but otherwise not.

They replied that if I was home, and asked them not to turn if off, they would not,

but if not home, they might, but would turn it back on on request.

---> Question - in your experince, do you think they will turn off the water if they see any kind of leak on my

side, since they will see the soggy area and the water filling the meter box ?

---> Question - since it seems the leak is on my side, but very close to and

visible in the water meter box, might I get some helpful feedback on the situation in any case

from who would come out ? That is, might they know about if it looked

fixable to them vs needing a repipe ?

Or if indeed it might be part of their own responsibilities ?

I just don't know if who is sent out are just those that turn water on and off and/or read meters

or those who might know more.

If not, does not seem worth having them come out now since

there could be the risk that they might turn it off until its fixed even though the flow and pressure

to house is ok and I am aware of the leak and additions to the bill.



===> I realize the pictures might not show enough information to know if a spot kind of fix can be

done right there at the edge of the meter box, assuming indeed its really leaking from there.

And realize that once digging might start, that it could reveal or cause further worn out pipe or causing

other pipe to be damaged to the point of leaking just by digging it up.

(vs needing to do a complete repiping from the street to the house and under the driveway which

can't afford)

But in any case, I'd appreciate your feedback to these questions or any other feedback you might have.

===> Please let me know if you need more information; I tried to take a variety of pictures

of angles of both my side and the other side of the meter, plus the videos.

And again, I apologize for the length of this, but felt I should provide you complete information.

Thanks for your help.

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Most meters have a little triangular-shaped spinner visible through the window. The tiniest flow will cause this spinner to rotate. Shut off all the faucets in your house so that there is NO water being drawn. Then look at the spinner. If it is not moving, the leak is on the water supplier side of the meter. If it is moving. the leak is on YOUR side of the meter and is costing you money. Sometimes it is as simple as the connection of the pipe to the meter needing to be tightened. Don't try it yourself.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2012 at 6:36PM
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bus driver - yes, the leak seen in the pictures and video
is registering on the meter, and is costing me money for sure, but am trying to get idea, from pics and description,
if it is perhaps as you mention a connection needing to be tightened vs a leak in pipe that might require bigger repairs.

---> When you look at the pictures, can you tell what the type of piece is that goes from the meter on my side to the exit of the meter box on my side -- that is, it starts at meter outlet connection and then there is a raised and rust colored area of it, that then goes under the meter box ?

its right under the part of that as it exits the meter box
from which the leak is coming ...

(see above post for more description of this)

thanks for your reply and comments, and no, I will not try any of this myself.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2012 at 7:06PM
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I did not have time to review all of your post. If you are satisfied that the leak is on your side of the meter and that you are not prepared to do the repair, the choices appear to be few. 1. Call someone who is qualified to do the repair. 2. Do nothing and pay for the water bill as it happens to be. 3. Have the water service shut off to stop the leak and avoid any expense associated with it.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2012 at 9:24AM
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Sophie Wheeler

Old galvanized pipes have a finite lifespan. If you repair this leak, you have a good chance of it developing another leak in another location. The only good solution is a complete pipe replacement.

The major expense of a pipe replacement will involve the digging of the trench from the meter to the house. This is an area where a DIYer can save some money. Have the utilities companies come out and mark the location of the pipe and any other utilities going to the home. Then you can choose a route parallel to the current pipe but just far enough away from it that you aren't disturbing it. You can rent a trencher (Maybe $200) and hand dig the larger access points at the meter and house. Then you can call a plumber to lay the pipe and make the connections.

If you are not physically capable of doing this, then do you have any family or friends that would be? Church group? Scout troop? There are usually community resources that can help you to figure out what you can do here.

The worst thing you can do is to ignore the leak.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2012 at 1:12PM
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"Old galvanized pipes have a finite lifespan. "

Usually around 30 years.

If they are past that start thinking about replacement, and a buried galvanized pipe that made it 30 years would be VERY good luck.

The only leak that is usually the water supplier is the joint between the meter itself and the valve body it mounts to (if they have one).

Anything else that leaks water on the outlet side is your problem.

Older installs may have a valve body, newer setups rarely do.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 3:51PM
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