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Old 09-11-2011, 12:38 PM   #1
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Main hot water pipe leaking under slab


This is the 1st leak on the hot water side and not sure how to fix. I really can not afford to pay a plumber (too expensive ) so any help would be greatly appreciated.

Here's the problem I have it's a major leak that the meter is spinning out of control & the water is not even in the tank long enough to get warm. I can hear the water running constantly through the pipe in the living room. There are no signs of water damage on the walls or ceilings.
The hot water tank is in the utility room. The main water supply comes in from the meter up through the slab to the tank about half way it splits for the cold water in the house. Then there's the hot water supply from the tank that goes in the slab and comes up in the living room (5-10 feet) and T's off to go to the upstairs & either the downstairs bathroom or kitchen (washing machine also in kitchen). I thought I could isolate the leak even more by turning off the cutoff valves for each area (sinks, washing machine etc). The result was the hot water still kept leaking which is why I think it's the main pipe coming into the house. Any suggestions on fixing????

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Old 09-11-2011, 01:54 PM   #2
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Main hot water pipe leaking under slab


If you turn your main water valve off inside your house and then go look at your water meter and it is still spinning then you have a leak on the main line coming in. If the leak is under the slab, it will be hard to determine exactly where the leak is....do all your water pipes run in the slab or just the main water line coming in?http://www.hawthornesplumbing.com

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Old 09-11-2011, 03:30 PM   #3
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Main hot water pipe leaking under slab


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Originally Posted by tiredofleaks View Post
This is the 1st leak on the hot water side and not sure how to fix. I really can not afford to pay a plumber (too expensive ) so any help would be greatly appreciated.

Here's the problem I have it's a major leak that the meter is spinning out of control & the water is not even in the tank long enough to get warm. I can hear the water running constantly through the pipe in the living room. There are no signs of water damage on the walls or ceilings.
The hot water tank is in the utility room. The main water supply comes in from the meter up through the slab to the tank about half way it splits for the cold water in the house. Then there's the hot water supply from the tank that goes in the slab and comes up in the living room (5-10 feet) and T's off to go to the upstairs & either the downstairs bathroom or kitchen (washing machine also in kitchen). I thought I could isolate the leak even more by turning off the cutoff valves for each area (sinks, washing machine etc). The result was the hot water still kept leaking which is why I think it's the main pipe coming into the house. Any suggestions on fixing????
If there's a hot water leak under your slab to the extent you described, turn the cold water inlet valve to the water heater off asap and don't turn it on again until you resolve your problem. Fast water leaks under the slab can cause sink holes under the slab!

It's not worth breaking up a slab to find the leak because even if a specific leak is repaired, there could be another leak in a different place a few months later due to "corroded" pipes. Copper hot water pipes are much more prone to developing leaks than cold water pipes.

We had a slow hot water leak under our slab. I just bypassed the under slab hot water pipes using Uponer AquaPex.

HRG
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Old 09-11-2011, 03:55 PM   #4
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Main hot water pipe leaking under slab


@ HomeRepairGuy, I have most definitely already shut off that valve. I had tried to isolate which section might be leaking by turning off all the inside hot water cutoff valves but the water was still flowing. That's why I believe it's the main hot water line coming in. It's no more than 10 feet from the hot water tank to the point of entry.
How long has been since you fixed the leak with aquapex & have you had more? Can you elaborate more on the Uponer Aquapex?

@pdhawthrone - the leake is not on my main water line coming into the house. It is on the hot water line coming into the house from the hot water tank which runs back under the slab.
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Old 09-12-2011, 06:44 AM   #5
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Main hot water pipe leaking under slab


Once you isolate the leak and know exactly where it is in the system you will have to figure a way to reroute the pipe thru the house somewhere, IE: thru closets , attic or build a chase somewhere.
Forget the jackhammer there's got to another way be creative.
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Old 09-12-2011, 08:07 AM   #6
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Main hot water pipe leaking under slab


The usual method for this repair is to re-pipe the hot water supply into the attic and re-feed down to all the fixtures. PEX (flexible plastic pipe) is a good choice for this and in Alabama you will not have freeze issues to worry about.

It could be a DIY job depending on your skill and comfort level but there are some specialized tools required.

Here is a Wikipedia article on PEX

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cross-linked_polyethylene
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Old 09-12-2011, 09:32 AM   #7
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Main hot water pipe leaking under slab


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Originally Posted by tiredofleaks View Post

@pdhawthrone - the leake is not on my main water line coming into the house. It is on the hot water line coming into the house from the hot water tank which runs back under the slab.
Is there only one line under the slab with joints below, or do you have a manifold in the wall near the water heater with multiple 1/2" lines feeding fixtures with no joints below?
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Old 09-12-2011, 10:41 AM   #8
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Main hot water pipe leaking under slab


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Is there only one line under the slab with joints below, or do you have a manifold in the wall near the water heater with multiple 1/2" lines feeding fixtures with no joints below?
Most houses on slabs in the South do not have joints under the slab. Depending on the layout of the house, they will bring the feed from the water heater up in the wall behind the kitchen sink. There they will make up a manifold with sweat tees and go back down under the slab to other parts of the house. Usually this manifold is closed in the wall and you have to demo to get at it.There may be more than one of these manifolds depending on the size and layout of the house. This is done with both copper and PEX.
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Old 09-12-2011, 11:06 AM   #9
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Main hot water pipe leaking under slab


How about a home improvement loan so you can hire a plumber and be done with it? This isn't something a DIY'er should be tackling.
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Old 09-12-2011, 02:45 PM   #10
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Main hot water pipe leaking under slab


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Originally Posted by tiredofleaks View Post
@ HomeRepairGuy, I have most definitely already shut off that valve. I had tried to isolate which section might be leaking by turning off all the inside hot water cutoff valves but the water was still flowing. That's why I believe it's the main hot water line coming in. It's no more than 10 feet from the hot water tank to the point of entry.
How long has been since you fixed the leak with aquapex & have you had more? Can you elaborate more on the Uponer Aquapex?
I fixed our leak in Dec 2010. No more leaks and, even though our leak was slow, our water usage went down noticeably. Our electric bill went down about $20 per month.

The Uponor PEX system uses the expansion method to connect joints. A PEX ring is slid over the end of the PEX and the tubing and ring are expanded using a special tool. Then both are pushed on the fitting and both contract due to the PEX memory. I chose this PEX system since it does not require any go-no/go checks using a gauge and seemed the most foolproof for a diy'er.

Since the compression ring go-no/go method depends on the gauge to fit by thousands of an inch, it's recommended to only use PEX tubing, fittings, compression rings and compression tool from the same manufacturer. As opposed to buying everything separately depending on price, although some diy'ers have done this (on other websites) and not experienced any leaks, at least at the time they posted.

The Uponor/Wirsbo expansion tool is more expensive (bought mine for $289 at pexsupply.com) but that cost is nothing compared to hiring a pro to do the work. I'll keep my tool forever but some folks have sold their tool on ebay and recovered most of their investment.

HRG

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