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DTproject 02-21-2011 10:04 AM

Really Condensation? Or is it a Leak?

I'm going to try my best to explain the situation here, but I'm not sure about the terminology so I apologize in advance! :thumbup:

We are putting in a bathroom in our basement and in this space there are 2 main water lines with meters. One is inside water meter and the other outside water meter (clear water they call it here). When the basement was poured they put both of those meters like 3 feet away from the outside wall. Huge waste of space. We asked the plumber if they could be moved and he said yes except for roughly the 1 foot of pipe that comes up through the concrete to the first meter b/c that would require the city shutting off our water from the street. It wasn't a big deal to leave that copper pipe as we are going to enclose these pipes in the back of a deep closet with removable shelves so there is still access to the meters. Plumber said it was a pretty easy fix so we said "do it"...

Fast forward to after the job is done.... it looks great but the plumber says there is a lot of condensation on the pipes- We have lived here over 4 years and NEVER had any condensation on these pipes- winter or summer. The basement is heated, so we were hoping that temp would adjust and in a day or so we would have no more issues. Not the case- I am watching drips forming quickly from one area that looks soldered , but there is noticeable condensation all around that area. The heaviest condensation is on the inside water meter line- we live in WI so the outside water lines have not been on since Oct/Nov.

My question is how do I know that this is really condensation and not a leak? The temp's have been in the 40's the last week (when the work was done) , the last 2 days in the 30's if that matters. I've been leaving a fan on all weekend and changing a towel under the pipes to catch as much water as I can, in hopes that the wood isn't getting to wet in there- it's treated, but I don't want it getting behind the polystyrene and molding there. Should I try wrapping them with something to stop this condensation? I know that there is NO WAY we can put anything on the walls until this stops- if anyone has any advice I'm all ears!


NCpaint1 02-21-2011 10:10 AM

With the amount of pressure thats coming in from the street, I would say its condensation...If it were leaking, you could easily tell.

AllanJ 02-21-2011 10:17 AM

Don't use any water for a few hours. (To let the pipes warm up to room temperature)

Wipe off the pipes.

See if they start dripping again. If so chances are you have a leak.

yuri 02-21-2011 10:18 AM

Go to HDepot and buy some foam pipe insulation and wrap them and try seal the joints with black electrical tape and make it all airtight. If not they will sweat and drip out the smallest exposed area. Once you have determined that solves the problem you may want to spray the area with 3M expanding foam to make it permanent and air tight/hermetically sealed.. Make sure the meter does not get sprayed with that foam or its connections.

DTproject 02-21-2011 11:32 AM


I won't run any water for awhile and see what happens.

I'm feeling more optimistic than in past days b/c after I posted this I went down there for the first time today and it does seem to be getting better. My fingers are crossed that it will continue to improve and I will take the suggestions that you have all given!
Much appreciated!

junkcollector 02-21-2011 04:52 PM

Is it form in a large area, or just isolated spots? Because my pipes condense, but it forms over the whole pipe. It also dries off quickly. If it is wet in one or two small areas continuously you might have a leak. I have seen soldered joints spring a tiny tiny leak after a couple of days (solder didn't flow all the way around)

oh'mike 02-21-2011 07:01 PM

The plumber may have soaked the concrete while he was working--causing higher humidity than usual.

Two things to do---aim a fan at it--see if that ends the drip.

Wrap the pipe in paper towel or toilet paper--see if you get a wet spot.

Good luck---Mike----

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