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Puzzles 04-27-2011 02:37 AM

Big water leak under house
 
Any advice is appreciated.

I got a cheap rundown house, and I knew there might be problems with the pipes. I'm guessing the previous residents intentionally damaged the house somewhat before getting foreclosed on, but don't know.

I'm not sure how much it's worth ($) to have water in the rundown house, but I'm curious about my options.

When the water company turns it on at the meter, you can see water gushing out in the crawlspace under the house.

Hard to tell for sure, but it probably under the bathroom. The hot water heater is also right next to (basically inside) the bathroom. Initially I thought the sound was the HWH filling (had been emptied when winterized) but I guess the sound was the leak. But who knows if the leak is related to the HWH, maybe it's simply near it and before it? Is it most likely the HWH?

The speed of the water is similar to when I turn on cold water at a good working sink halfway but there may be more volume coming out at a time.

I couldn't see any kind of water main inside or outside, for me to turn off. Could the main be under the house, under the bathroom, and that valve is what's broken? Walking around inside and outside I didn't notice any other water sounds to report.

When it's on and wasting water (in the crawlspace), you cannot get water from the bathroom sink or tub. Didn't try the toilet. You can get a trickle from the kitchen sink. You can also get a very good flow from the water spigot in the yard. There seem to be no faucets on the house, just the hand lever spigot in the yard. So apparently the water splits from the meter and goes to the spigot plus the house main.

I was told some mains are buried a foot or more under the ground?

I was told the house has only been vacant for about 2 months! Once the bank took possession, they winterized it of course. I guess it's possible a pipe burst before they got it winterized, or that someone purposely broke the pipe?

Do I need someone to crawl under and see if there's a valve I can try replacing, or whatever else is obviously in need of repair? Or see anything else obvious like one burst pipe that could be replaced?

I don't think my friends or I are brave enough to crawl under there, though it looks okay from what I can see. Hopefully I can find a handyman to replace the pipe or valve and take care of this. Or would one visible burst pipe mean it's probably going to have other problems?

Even if I don't want working water inside the rundown house, I am thinking I need to seal off the pipe, as I am going to build a small house 150 feet back from this one. I figure that most likely it's not much more expensive to just replace the bad parts and have working water there, versus sealing off that pipe.

Thank you!

CplDevilDog 04-27-2011 05:53 AM

Often there is a shutoff just above the HWH. Try turning it off to isolate the tank as the leak.

See if you can borrow a curb key for the curb box shut-off. The Water Co is unlikely to appreciate standing around for troubleshooting

AllanJ 04-27-2011 07:43 AM

It is not unusual for the underground service pipe to rise up in the middle of the crawl space.

plumber666 04-27-2011 07:44 AM

Despite being winterized, sounds like a burst formerly frozen pipe to me. Somebodys got to head for the crawlspace and locate the leak. Turn on the curb stop just enough so you can hear (or feel) the water barely flowing. Then take a look and don't be surprised if theres more than one leak.

Puzzles 04-27-2011 02:50 PM

I remembered the HWH should still be off from the winterization.

I'll try to get pictures and measurements under there.


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