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Old 04-16-2013, 06:30 PM   #1
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Leak before main shutoff in basement


Well today I noticed that I have a leak at the joint between the main shutoff valve in the basement and the main water line coming in. My best guess is that when I replaced the PRV a few weeks ago this fitting moved more than normal causing it to leak. It appears that there's only about 3" of copper pipe coming out of the wall, is that a normal length? Kinda makes me nervous.

Anyway when we first moved here about 3.5yrs ago I recalled seeing a pipe in the backyard that was buried vertically and was open - meaning it had no cover on it. At the time I had no plumbing experience as everything I now know I've learned as a result of owning this old PITA house. I didn't know what it was then and when we had dirt brought it was buried by a couple inches. I went out to try and find it and after about 20min I did. It's right in line w/ the neighbor's cap that says WATER on it. I shined a flashlight down inside and there's some dirt down in it. How should I handle getting it out? I imagine the city has some kind of long wrench to reach down in there and shut the valve off but it's not going to work covered in dirt. The pipe is clear until about 4ft down where there's some dirt. Hopefully I'm not screwed...

Now on to the plumbing where it enters the house. It appears to be a 1/2" copper line coming in. We have 1/2" lines through our whole house. Does that look like a compression fitting between the ball valve and the main line? You can tell in the pic that it's not lined up and had a bend to it, which I'm sure hasn't been helping that connection at all. I have basic plumbing skills but the fact that there's only a few inches to work with gets me a little paranoid. What type of connection would you use if you were fixing this leak? I'm not a big fan of compression on copper but I'm willing to do whatever is deemed best by those who know the most.

So to briefly paraphrase my two questions -
1) How to handle the dirt in the access pipe for the shutoff at the street and
2) What type of connection to use in making the repair at the main line

Thanks to all,

John
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Old 04-16-2013, 06:54 PM   #2
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Leak before main shutoff in basement


First thing you are going to have to do, is contact your utility that you pay for potable water, to shut off at the meter, or hire a plumber that has a street key, and the tools to do the job. You may be able to get by with a sleeve sweated, connecting the new section to the old section, if your utility allows.

Otherwise, you may end up having to replace the whole run from the meter to the house shutoff. Also, why do you have that pressure reducer in between the filter & main, along with why did you opt for the plastic vs. copper for that assembly?

Something like this, tends to be easier to get a good small business owner plumber, that can do the work, vs you having to do it, especially if your utility is going to require someone to write off on the fix.

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Old 04-16-2013, 08:05 PM   #3
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Leak before main shutoff in basement


Around here, the city is responsible for the water before the meter. The homeowner is responsible for everything after the meter. Call the water company and see if they will come out and fix it.
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Old 04-16-2013, 08:06 PM   #4
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Leak before main shutoff in basement


The old PRV was in that spot, it went bad so I replaced it there. Where should it be? The whole house has cpvc except for right there by the meter. I've worked more w/ cpvc and haven't had any issues w/ it which is why I used it. I have no problem hiring a plumber for this one, ESPECIALLY if it's the difference between replacing the entire line to the street.

Maybe I'll have a local guy come take a look at it and see what they think. Thanks for your comments greg.
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Old 04-16-2013, 08:08 PM   #5
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Leak before main shutoff in basement


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Originally Posted by taylorjm View Post
Around here, the city is responsible for the water before the meter. The homeowner is responsible for everything after the meter. Call the water company and see if they will come out and fix it.
Oh ok, I was assuming I was responsible from the street. I live in a fairly small city so they supply our water. I'll call tomorrow and get some info. Thanks
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Old 04-17-2013, 12:48 PM   #6
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Leak before main shutoff in basement


I called and was told I'm responsible from the street. I asked if I could make the repair myself or if they required a licensed plumber to do it and they said either one is fine. I guess now it's decision time for me or a plumber.

Greg, when you mentioned using a sleeve, is that a special type of coupling? If it's just 1/2" copper coming in could I solder on a 1/2" coupling and go from there?
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Old 04-17-2013, 01:00 PM   #7
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Leak before main shutoff in basement


It would be a copper sleeve, that would allow you to connect the two ends together, after applying flux, then heating and sweating in solder. Problem is, you are going to need at least a MAP gas torch. You may be able to get off cheaper with the plumber, if you do the hard work first, digging out the line outside, where it enters the house, so they can then pull in new Copper.
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Old 04-17-2013, 01:12 PM   #8
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Leak before main shutoff in basement


Oh so you're saying there isn't enough copper through the basement wall right now to make the repair?
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Old 04-17-2013, 01:45 PM   #9
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Old 04-17-2013, 02:25 PM   #10
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Leak before main shutoff in basement


Where is it leaking from? Isn't that just a flared fitting on a close nipple and a valve? Is it leaking at the flared nut? If so, I'd go outside and locate your main shutoff in case you need it, then just tighten up the flare nut and see if you can get it to seal again.
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Old 04-17-2013, 02:29 PM   #11
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Leak before main shutoff in basement


Is that little pipe used as a ground for something? It doesn't have water in it does it? As long as it's not running water, you have plenty of room to fix it. Turn off your main water at the street. Cut the pipe at the very end of the flared nut with a hacksaw. Clean it all up with some sandcloth, but don't sand too much. Then go get a compression fitting and a nipple to fit between the valve and comp fitting.
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Old 04-17-2013, 02:31 PM   #12
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Leak before main shutoff in basement


The pipe w/ the ground wire clamped on it is our main water supply, its only 1/2".
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Old 04-17-2013, 02:41 PM   #13
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Leak before main shutoff in basement


Well, here's what I would do. First, get a wrench that will reach down to turn off the main. Then get a shop vac and get the dirt out, and turn off the water. Then I would tighten the heck out of that flare/compression fitting. Make sure you have some good sized wrenches and hold back on the fitting so you don't twist things up. I don't mean tighten it like they do on the home shows, with their little baby wrenches and a 1/4 turn and say "there, all done". I mean get on there with at least a 12" wrench and make groaning noises and make sure it's tight. My dad used to tell me to tighten it as much as you can, then one more. Chances are that will fix the problem. If not, plan on cutting the nut off, preferably back past the bend, and get a new compression fitting. You are going to have to tighten that compression fitting too...again...as tight as you can, plus one more!
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Old 04-17-2013, 03:09 PM   #14
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Leak before main shutoff in basement


Would using a compression fitting there be better than soldering on a 1/2" coupling? Our city supplies @ 160psi, don't know if that would influence the fitting choice or not.
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Old 04-17-2013, 03:30 PM   #15
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Leak before main shutoff in basement


I'd try tightening up the flared fitting---

Stick with copper for that repair ,if a repair must be made----

To get mud out of a Buffalo box (street shut off)----blast with a garden hose to loosen up the muck--then vacume out with a wet dry vac----use a length of pipe for a hose extension.

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