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playstationdork 07-26-2008 02:35 AM

Leak in incoming supply line under slab
i have a 5 year old home in Washington State that has a leak under the garage slab. I was notified by the water department that i have had a small leak for several months; it drained through the sleeve where the water enters the house in the foundation. From there, there is a small pool where the water filters into the dirt.

Last weekend, I knocked a small hole (8") around the pipe out of the foundation to see if I could find and fix the leak. I was able to find the leak as it is only about two inches from on the other side of the foundation under the garage floor. It is coming from the joint between the poly tube and the copper barbed fitting. There is only about 3/4" overlap between the male copper barb and the female poly tube.

I replaced the worm gear clamps and was almost able to stop the leak, but they failed as I over-torked them. I have retried and every time I get close, they fail.

A couple of questions that I have are: 1) Is a joint like this up to code? I was thinking about contacting the builder, but it's been 5 years, so I doubt he would do anything. 2) are there any kind of superior clamps out there that may survive my attempts to seal the leak? and 3) If I were to hire out a plumber, would they need to cut into the garage slab to make the fix since the poly tube is pointed directly towards me when I am looking at it under the foundation. I am not sure how they would cut and remarry the two connections.

Any advice would be appreciated.


Marlin 07-26-2008 05:08 AM

You're builder should be smacked for running the water main under the garage slab as it makes repair or replacement more difficult.

You will probably have to shut your water off at the meter in the case of an outdoor meter or the curb stop in the case of an indoor one. Then take the joint completely apart and replace the fitting. Can you do that through the hole in the foundation? You may need to cut off the part of the poly that previously was in the fitting and replace the piece of copper coming from the poly into the house. I would consider hiring someone to do this as if you somehow further damage the pipe underground it may require replacing the entire line or opening the slab in your garage to access the pipe further back.

Marlin 07-26-2008 05:27 AM

1 Attachment(s)
These are the fittings I usually use underground. It is compression on one side by IPS on the other. They also make compression by compression. You need to be able to spin a pretty big pipe wrench on the compression side to install them though.

playstationdork 07-27-2008 08:04 PM

So, how would I find out if this was up to code back in 2003. I've read a few threads saying that connections under slab is not code. I would really like to fix this myself, but if it's not up to code, then when I go to sell the home, it might cause a problem with the sale. Now that there is a hole in the foundation, it's the first thing that a home inspector will look at.

Is this a real concern, or am I thinking too much into it?

playstationdork 07-31-2008 09:20 AM

no one knows if this is a code problem or not?

Termite 07-31-2008 10:56 AM

Code problem or not, you probably have no recourse and you've got to get it fixed. You might look into "shark bite" fittings for copper and PEX tubing (assuming they used PEX). They don't require any tools, and given your limited access, they might work well. Not sure if they're listed for burial....They're new to us around here. Getting a PEX crimping tool in there will require a lot of access, the shark bite fitting would not.

4just1don 07-31-2008 04:59 PM

my only thought,this is a hose clamp connection??Do you have one or two clamps on it? ALOT of clamp problems are solved by using 2 clamps instead of the normal one MOST people put on it. Might have to use a new barb and get it in far enough to be able to USE 2, but it works and requires less tork on both,,unless this wasnt an actual clamp fitting and somebodies who-do quickie fix. I would 'try' to leave this area accessible for awhile till its for sure mended. makes ya wonder how many other potential problems are 'buried'. hope you get it fixed,at least you will do things better than whats there!!

Termite 07-31-2008 07:29 PM

This isn't something that can be properly or permanently fixed with hose clamps. :no:

Supply lines aren't the place for fernco bushings or band-aid repairs. This needs to be a properly installed fitting.

4just1don 08-01-2008 10:24 AM

I "completely" agree with termite on no place for hose clamps etc. "MY" only reasoning was he was trying to make hose clamps work,,,altho it is TEMP in nature.

spend the money,,do it 'right',,you will feel so much better and you dont have to worry about coming home to a flood IF it blows apart!!!

playstationdork 08-03-2008 12:38 PM

temporary stop gap
As a temporary fix, I have two hose clamps cranked down on the fitting and it still leaks a little. The black poly tube only overlaps the barbed fitting for about 3/4ths of an inch and is pretty beaten up. The connection needs to be completely replaced.

If this connection needs to be replaced, I probably need to knock out more of the foundation to get into do this correctly. I just don't know what is correct. I would hate to have any fix that may hold up a sale when we eventually move out of this house. Maybe the shark bite connection mentioned above would be an acceptable underslab fix.

I spoke with the builder, who has been great in all previous communications and they are coming out to take a look. They'll be out on Wednesday, August 13th and will see what the best solution is.


JDC 08-03-2008 06:02 PM

What you need to repair the leak correctly is a mechanical pack joint coupling with an insert stiffener for the plastic tubing. The plastic may be copper tubing size (CTS) or iron pipe size (IPS) and you'll need to know this in order to get the right sized coupling. Most likely, a section of the plastic will need to be cut out and two pack joint couplings with a like sized piece of copper will need to be used to make the repair. If the leak is at or near the garage floor a section of the floor may need to be cut out for access. This may be a job for an experienced plumber to tackle (not to discount your DIY skills) as this kind of repair with limited access can be tricky.

Good luck!

playstationdork 08-03-2008 06:53 PM

Included a few photos of the mess
I know that they don't show much depth, but hopefully this sheds a little light on my issue. I took these a few weeks ago. Since then, the hole in the foundation is slightly bigger. I will probably expand the foundation hole a little once I call in a professional so that they can get in and out quickly. Hopefully that will prevent cutting up the slab.

Thanks for all of your responses,

JDC 08-04-2008 02:37 PM

There is no way that you'll be able to get wrenches on the pack joint fittings with that kind of access. Cutting out and repouring a small section of the slab really isnt that big of a deal.

mstplumber 08-05-2008 08:18 AM

Looks like you have 3 different types of pipe within a 3' run. If you want to try this yourself I would recommend using a Sharkbite fitting . I would also eliminate the copper altogether and transition directly from the poly to the CPVC.

You will need to find out whether the poly is CTS or IPS. Turn the meter off, remove the fitting and take it with you to the supply house.

I know a lot of "old school" plumbers don't like Sharkbite fittings. I'm generally pretty old school myself, but the things work. They are rated by the manufacturer for concealed locations but each municipality is different in their acceptance of these fittings.

In your case, I think they are the best solution. You simply insert the stiffener into the plastic pipe and push the fitting on. No tools needed! They are made by Cash Acme, a respected name in the plumbing industry. Check out their website:

It is certainly better to have no joints under the slab but at this point the only way to correct that would be to tear out the whole line and replace it. I would consider having a Sharkbite a few inches inside the foundation the lesser of two evils.

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