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Old 02-05-2009, 12:10 PM   #1
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mysterious water leak


I have a water leak under my wall-to-wall rug near the utility room in my ground floor condo. The rug became water soaked in a local area of about 3 foot diameter several weeks ago. Then the leak stopped. I called in a plumber and he checked the line pressures with the outside line turned off and found no leaks in the inside pressure lines. The same test was run for the outside line from the outside water meter -- still no evidence of any water leak with a lowering in pressure test. So, the question of the day is where is the leak coming from and what should I do about it if it returns? All in all, a very mysterious condition that appears to be intermittent -- which I understand is very unusual for a plumbing problem. Also I don't believe that the problem is coming from the drain side of the water system -- at least the plumber did not think so. Any ideas or suggestions would be much appreciated.

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Old 02-05-2009, 12:54 PM   #2
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you mentionned it was near a utility room... Is it hot in that area? or does it get hot sometimes? its posible it was the pipes sweating (condensation on the outside of the pipe due to cold water in the pipe and hot temp outside the pipe), it is also posible it is not a plumbing problem at all. Do you have an attic or crawlspace? Check to make sure there is no buildup of ice due to humidity? Maybe a bathroom fan that has not been evacuated properly?

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Old 02-05-2009, 01:43 PM   #3
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It is near a utility room but there is no heat in that area. I have a heat-pump basaed HVAC and the air handler is in the utility room. Also the water heater is in there but it is very well insulated. The temperature in the roon is the same as in the rest of the condo for that matter.

I wonder if you are on to something about the problem not really being a plumbing issue! There is a second condo unit direcetly above our unit laied out in a very similar manner so that their utility room is also right above ours.

What do you mean when you talk about a bathroom fan that has not been evacuated properly? What should I be looking for in our case. There is a nearby bathroom next to the utility room with a fan that is rarely used. Also no water leaks were observed anywhere in that bathroom.

I am also troubled as to why this leak appeared and then stopped all by itself. That would suggest that this is indeed NOT a plumbing problem since I am told that water leaks from pipes (either pressure based hot/cold water or the non-pressure drain system itself) do not self-correct.
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Old 02-05-2009, 01:55 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stanzaw View Post
It is near a utility room but there is no heat in that area. I have a heat-pump basaed HVAC and the air handler is in the utility room. Also the water heater is in there but it is very well insulated. The temperature in the roon is the same as in the rest of the condo for that matter.

I wonder if you are on to something about the problem not really being a plumbing issue! There is a second condo unit direcetly above our unit laied out in a very similar manner so that their utility room is also right above ours.

What do you mean when you talk about a bathroom fan that has not been evacuated properly? What should I be looking for in our case. There is a nearby bathroom next to the utility room with a fan that is rarely used. Also no water leaks were observed anywhere in that bathroom.

I am also troubled as to why this leak appeared and then stopped all by itself. That would suggest that this is indeed NOT a plumbing problem since I am told that water leaks from pipes (either pressure based hot/cold water or the non-pressure drain system itself) do not self-correct.

Thats exactly why i dont think its a plumbing issue, if it were it would still be leaking. A bathroom fan must be evacuated out of the house using insulated ducting. This would prevent humidity buildup in the attic or crawlspace which would lead to ice in winter (im asuuming you live in a cool climate?). Also if the duct is not insulated it would create condensation in winter which would come back down the duct into the house.

I would think the primary reason for the water may be that the people above you have spilled something and it found its way down to you. I had no realised the condo had occupants above you. It could have been there plumbing issue that has been fixed, or a simple spill/overflow. Maybe ask them if anything like that has happend?
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Old 02-05-2009, 02:36 PM   #5
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I really appreciate your hanging in there and interacting with me on our little problem. We live in a suburb of Philadelphia which gets moderately cold from time to time but this is not Chicago type wheather to be sure.

I have talked with the folks upstairs and they cannot recall any problem when this originally happened several weeks ago and I have no reason to doubt their word -- we are good frields. I can see the common drain line running down the inside wall in our utility room from abaout and I assume that we connect to the same line. This massive pipe (4-6" diameter) is near the leak area but when I asked our neighbors to run their toilets several times nothing showed up in the way of a leak. I am still very stymied to say the least.
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Old 02-05-2009, 04:01 PM   #6
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Did you look up to see if there was any evidence of water coming from above? Is the house built on a slab or is there a basement below it? If it is on a slab could it be a built on a high water table were ground water is pushing up through the concrete? Maybe the wife or kids spilt something and didn't want to "fess up"?

If it not wet all the time it would not be a supply line problem.

Just trying to brain storm my little brain.
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Old 02-05-2009, 05:07 PM   #7
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Are condo is indeed built on a concrete slab but I have no idea what the water table level is in our area. I can probably find this info out at our local county offices (maybe!). I understand that concrete acts like a sponge and it will absorb water but I never suspected that the reverse could be true, that under pressure the water in the ground would to come up through the slab itself. An interesting idea. Again thanks for brainstorming with me on this problem. So far, there has been no reoccurance of the problem and I hope it stays that way! If not, I am not too sure jsut who to approach to help with me other than another plumber. Any final ideas? Otherwise thanks again. Much appreciate.
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Old 02-05-2009, 08:51 PM   #8
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bet somebody spilled water up above you........next heavy rain check it? they ran all there waters into the drains...nothing(has to be a drain leak)the rest of the pipes have cold and hot water on them with city pressure coming in.did anybody do water washing or spraying on the outside of the area soaked walls?
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Old 02-05-2009, 09:39 PM   #9
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Well, if we have a roofing water leak problem, it has sure found an interesting way to manifest itself, coming down to our floor and bypassing everything in the upstairs condo on the way!

The problem showed up in early January in the dead of winter (no snow at the time as I recall) so there has not been any kind of high powered washing or anything else for that matter going on in recent memory.

If our neighbors upstairs spilled something, it did not show as a water stain on any walls under them in our condo. All of the wetness definitely made its appearance under the wall-to-wall rug in a hallway almost in front of the utility door (actually to the right of it) right in front of an air intake vent which is the return intake for the HVAC air flow system. I removed the vent cover and examined the exposed concrete on the floor behind the vest port and I thought I saw some form of wetness but I am not sure. I pointed this "condition" to the plumber and he looked and then went inside the utility room and proceeded to make several cuts in the drywall to expose much of the piping feeding our condo including the main connection that goes to our meter in the street well directly in front of the condo front door about 25 feet away. The feed line goes vertically through the concrete slab and then underground all the way to the city meter well. That line was pressure checked, as well as the entire inside pipping, was pressure checked for leaks and none appeared. The rotating disc on the water meter does not turn when water is not being used giving further evidence that there is no leak in the entire system at our condo.
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Old 02-06-2009, 05:08 AM   #10
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Is it possible that the drain line for you hvac has frozen or gotten blocked and is backing up, thus leaking and allowing your carpet to act as a sponge and holding the water, even after it has stopped flowing? Since it sounds like the plumber has eliminated other possible sources, I would investigate there, if for no other reason than to eliminate it as a possible problem.
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Old 02-06-2009, 05:58 AM   #11
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You are raising an interesting point about a possible drain blockage. In recent times, I have noticed twice now that air bubbles are emerging from the toilet bowl in the bathroom adjacent to the utility room and also near the point in the hall where the leak manifested itself. I assume that there is some kind of blockage in the air vent going to the roof and I will have to have it checked out in the spring. Possibly there is a connection between these two events. Does that make sense to you?
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Old 02-13-2009, 09:57 AM   #12
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sorry to take so long to get back to you. Concerning the possible HVAC drain leak, my drain line goes right into the concrete slab and I don't have a clue as to whether it goes into the soil directly below or does it go through a drain line below the concrete slab into the main drain line. Any ideas on what I should try here? I am thinking I should try to pour some water into that line and see if it takes it or not.

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