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Old 08-01-2010, 01:57 PM   #1
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perplexing plumbing issue


This may get kinda long but I want to include as much information as possible.

I went to my basement the other morning and could here the sound of water running through the pipe where the service enters the house (at the meter). I naturally assumed maybe a toilet was running or faucet had been left on so I checked all the sinks, toilets, outside faucets, etc. but found nothing. I went back down and shut off the main valve at the meter which seemed to slow the sound but not stop it completely. I went through the house and turned off all the valves under the sinks, toilets, etc. and checked for any broken/leaking pipes or any indications thereof... nothing found. Thinking maybe there was broken main and what I was hearing was just the sound being transmitted through the pipes I called the city water dep't and they came over and shut off the valve at the curb-stop which stopped the sound but when they turned it back on the sound came back. They said this could indicate a broken lateral line between the curb-stop and the house. I then did a thorough check to make sure nothing was leaking and found no indication of any wetness anywhere in the house. I checked the meter and found there's a little over a gallon per hour going though the meter. Again, as stated earlier there's no indication of any leaks anywhere in the house... I would think if there was a leaking pipe in a wall or something that after four days there would be some indication of where over a hundred gallons of water would have gone (wetness on the walls, ceilings, floors, etc.).

I did contact a plumber who is coming over tomorrow (Monday), but after everything I told him over the phone he's as perplexed as I am over how that much water could be going through the meter and not show up anywhere in the house and as to how a broken lateral outside the house could make the meter spin.

Anybody here have any ideas, suggestions or advise?

Oh, and city says if it's a broken lateral between the curb-stop and the house that the cost of repairs is my responsibility... they are only responsible for the main from the street to the curb-stop .

Please help.

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Old 08-01-2010, 02:57 PM   #2
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perplexing plumbing issue


Do you have a valve where the main line comes into the home?

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Old 08-01-2010, 03:30 PM   #3
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perplexing plumbing issue


You stated you shut off the valve at the meter and the sound almost quit and when the city turned off the curb stop the noise stopped. This tells me its your main outside.
A few more questions:
Do you have an irragation system?
Do you have trap primers feeding floor dains?
Do you have any water lines in your basement floor?
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Old 08-01-2010, 03:52 PM   #4
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perplexing plumbing issue


Based on everything you mentioned, you definitely have a leak outside. Underground. May be difficult to pinpoint exactly where depending on depth, soil conditions, etc.

Based on the plumber being "perplexed" about why a meter spins when there's a leak outside, I'd suggest you call someone else.

If you have a meter inside the house, turn the water off inside the house and the meter still spins, that means the leak is before the meter.
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Old 08-01-2010, 03:56 PM   #5
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perplexing plumbing issue


The valve where the main line comes in is just ahead of the meter.

Eplumber, that's what's weird, if it's the main outside how could that cause the meter to run? No irrigation system, no trap primers (no floor drains - the basement floor is actually lower than the sewer main under the street, so the water from laundry goes into a sump and gets pumped up to the ground pipe), no water lines in the basement floor.

When I was looking for broken/leaky pipes I actually followed the main pipe from the meter through all the branches leading throughout the house, so I'm sure I haven't missed anything.

I have the main valve at the meter shut right now and will check later to see if the meter has turned at all with the valve off.

Thanks for the replies.
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Old 08-01-2010, 03:59 PM   #6
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I went back down and shut off the main valve at the meter which seemed to slow the sound but not stop it completely.
Does "back down" mean in the basement? Does the main come in over head or up from the floor?

If it comes in near the rim joist, it's probably about 3' deep outside. Which means you may be able to hand dig it.

If it's coming up from the floor it's going to be probably 7' deep or more outside. Which means excavation.

What kind of pipe comes in from outside? Is it copper, galvanized, or plastic?
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Old 08-01-2010, 04:04 PM   #7
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perplexing plumbing issue


LC, the meter is inside the house (yes, the basement), the main comes up through the basement floor and is 1" copper.

If the meter is inside the house and the leak is outside (before the meter) how could that cause the meter to spin?
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Old 08-01-2010, 04:13 PM   #8
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If the meter is inside the house and the leak is outside (before the meter) how could that cause the meter to spin?
Is your shut off valve before or after the meter?

If your valve is after the meter; you shut it off, and the meter still spins, that means you have a leak outside.
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Old 08-01-2010, 04:14 PM   #9
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perplexing plumbing issue


shut off valve is BEFORE the meter.
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Old 08-01-2010, 04:18 PM   #10
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shut off valve is BEFORE the meter.
Ok, I guess I missed that part.

Either way if you're hearing water running even after shutting that valve off, seems to me there's a leak outside.

If the city shut it off at the curb and you didn't hear anything, also indicates a leak outside.
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Old 08-01-2010, 04:20 PM   #11
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perplexing plumbing issue


If the meter was still spinning that would indicate your ball/gate valve may have failed as well.
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Old 08-01-2010, 04:29 PM   #12
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perplexing plumbing issue


Thanks for the replies, it's appreciated... but do you see what I mean by perplexing?... When I have the valve turned ON and the meter is running at over a gallon per hour, shouldn't I be seeing evidence of a leak somewhere in the house? I would have gone through about 100 gallons of water that I can't account for.
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Old 08-01-2010, 04:45 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ripper2 View Post
Thanks for the replies, it's appreciated... but do you see what I mean by perplexing?... When I have the valve turned ON and the meter is running at over a gallon per hour, shouldn't I be seeing evidence of a leak somewhere in the house? I would have gone through about 100 gallons of water that I can't account for.
I'm sorry but it's not perplexing to me. Depending on soil conditions you may never see signs of it. The soil near my house is mostly rock for instance. Water drains right through. Other soil types may eventually indicate a sink hole in the yard. Consider however that the line is probably 8' deep and again, you may never see an indication of a leak.
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Old 08-01-2010, 04:48 PM   #14
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perplexing plumbing issue


Quote:
Originally Posted by ripper2 View Post
Thanks for the replies, it's appreciated... but do you see what I mean by perplexing?... When I have the valve turned ON and the meter is running at over a gallon per hour, shouldn't I be seeing evidence of a leak somewhere in the house? I would have gone through about 100 gallons of water that I can't account for.
perplexing indeed Don't get mad at me but are you sure your toilets aren't running? I'm running out of ideas
Is there any possible way there could be a branch line in your buried service line that you are unaware of, such as an old yard hydrant, branch to an abandoned bldg.

Last edited by TheEplumber; 08-01-2010 at 04:52 PM.
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Old 08-01-2010, 04:51 PM   #15
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perplexing plumbing issue


go to your local rental place and rent a probe,start poking it in the ground in a straight line between the stopbox and where the service enters house before meter.
sometimes the grass will be greener in that area due to the extra water in ground,either way look for soft area when you probe the ground

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