OT: Finding a water leak in a buried line.
I got a notice from the city utilities several days ago that my water consumption had spiked from an average of 5000 gallons a month to almost 18,000 gallons a month. I could actually see the sweep hand on the meter moving with everything turned off.
I didn't find anything amiss inside or under the house. It had rained for the two days before I got the notice, so the wet ground masked anything going on outside. To make matters worse, it's almost 200 feet from the meter/shutoff box to where the pipe goes under the house. We bought the house a couple years ago, so I had no idea where the line had been installed around the old trees in the yard.
To buy some time, I bought 3/4" PVC and several fittings, and put in a temporary line from the street to the house. That stopped the meter from spinning, but I still had to locate and fix the leak.
The yard slopes downhill quite a bit from the house to the street. I capped the line at the street, and put a short riser on the end at the house so I wouldn't have to work in the hole. I filled the line with water, then used the air compressor to pressurize the line. I knew that only the water above the level of the leak would be forced out.
I disconnected the compressor, and carefully measured the amount of water needed to refill the line. I repeated the procedure to check the results. A little math told me the leak was only fourteen feet from the house end of the line.
I took a chance the the line went straight out from the house, and dug a hole with my posthole diggers. Bingo!! I could hear the air hiss of escaping air. There was a slip-joint there with a split in the area where the pipe is flared to make the bell. Here's a picture of the leak:
The amount I've spent so far for the temporary line and all the stuff needed to make the repairs and put the system back in operation is less than the bill for one hour of a plumber's labor.
How did you decide when all the water had been forced out - i.e. how long did you apply the compressed air?
It's clever - good thinking! Had a leak in a water line at the farm once. It wasn't too hard to find. We knew where the lines were laid so you just walk along with a stick and listen. When you hit the right area, it's either all mushy or you hear a sound like a bee's nest.
trenches, pits, underground wires and pipes are easy to find with coat hanger dowsing rods. I do it all the time. My wife and I locate grave sites in cemeteries also.
That was a clever trick of figuring out how far out the lead was. I will have to store that one for future use.
It's only ink and paper
Pretty slick. Now, I want to know where 13,000 gallons of water a month has gone.
Uh oh. Dowsing....
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That's rather ingenious! Usually I see the city water works people listening for a water main leak with headphones and a ground microphone...and even then it's sometimes hit or miss finding it.
I just let the compressor cycle several times, then shut it off. I don't have a tank, so it didn't take very long to bleed down. Air leaks faster than water, so the cycling rate went up when the air got to the leak.
The pipe was two feet down in sandy clay, so hearing the leak (without a detector) or seeing a wet spot was pretty iffy, especially since it had rained so recently.
I was surprised to see no cavity had been washed out around the leak. Our house is on some of the highest ground around, and the soil drains pretty well. It's about a six-foot drop from the house to the water meter box.
I was lucky the leak was in the steepest area. My method wouldn't be very accurate on nearly flat ground.
Last edited by winchman; 11-17-2009 at 09:12 PM.
have you ever listened to a leaking pipe, 1/4 steel rod, 1" disk welded to end, stick it on the pipe and listen.....yes it works honest, you can hear the leak.
Good, clever thinking. I'll stash that one away in my memory banks, and when I need to find a leak, I'll completely forget the whole thing and dig up a mile or so of pipe...or it will seem like a mile anyway.
Originally Posted by winchman
I was going to question you about that,,, Very unique -- I think it interesting how people approach different problems and lots of it revolves around what they've done for a living such, I know how I would have went about it, leave the water on and grab my stethoscope...