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Old 01-29-2013, 08:55 PM   #1
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Slab leak advice needed! Help


My house is 21 yrs old, built on a slab. San Antonio, TX

About 2 weeks ago, I noticed the sound of water running. Like someone was taking a shower,in the middle of the night but all faucets were off and no toilets were running.

The next morning when I was cooking breakfast, my daughter noticed that the floor/ceramic tiles in the area between the island and the range were very warm, about a 2'x2' area. We have been living in our house 3.5 yrs.

There is no visible water leaking outside or inside.

The only way to turn the water off is at the meter, by the sidewalk.

According the water company, the pipes are buried a foot down.

I have a home warranty with Old Republic so I placed a plumbing request online. In the interim, thinking that there was a hot water leak somewhere, I would turn off the hot water valve on the hot water heater and only turn it on when we needed hot water. If we forget to do this and not turn off the valve, there is no hot water when we need it. When we do turn it off, the hot water only lasts a few minutes.

I finally got a plumber out (contracted w/ the warranty company), 2 days after submitting the service request. He came over at 7 pm when it was dark. He took a flashlight and went around the house and say no evidence of the leak, nor saw any evidence inside. He checked the meter and said it seemed to be a pretty good leak. He dug up the customer cutoff adjacent to the one the city uses, ( I didn't even know it was there. When we replaced the outside silcock, we just bought a key and turned the water off where the city would.) He said that it seemed hard to turn and he didn't want to break it , I didn't try. He used a long metal rod to poke around the front yard between the meter and the house and couldn't detect evidence of a leak between the meter and the house.

He then said he needed to install a cutoff valve outside my house and he would dig at the corner of my slab to find where the water line enters my house and it wouldn't be covered under my warranty because it's outside. He said that that would be the 1st step in detecting the leak. I asked if the leak is outside, why is my kitchen floor suddenly warm and the hot water heater seems to be losing water? He said it must be something wrong w/ the hot water heater. I explained that the sound of water running, the hot spot and the hot water heater seeming to lose water all happened at the same time, so I don't understand why he has to put in this valve outside to detect a leak that is obviously inside. When I asked him to explain the hot spot on the floor, he shrugged and said "a ll houses have hot spots".

I spoke w/ another plumber the next day and he said that plumbing companies that are contracted w/ warranty companies will tell you you need to do non warranty repairs/ troubleshooting to make $ because their $ is made from volume , not the repair because the warranty company knows the true price of repairs, so they can't over charge them like they do regular customers w/o warranties.

When I spoke w/ the original plumber, he couldn't explain to me why a leak in my yard would make my kitchen floor hot when it hasn't been before and why there is a shortage of hot water. he did say something about the cold spilling into the hot or vice versa. He insists that he HAS to install this non warranty covered valve because it's the 1st step in detecting where the leak is.

someone please help me understand the correlation between loss of hot water in my house, a hotspot in my kitchen that hasn't been there in 3.5 yrs and how a leak in my front yard could cause this issue because he is starting to seem like he's just looking for a way to make some extra $.
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Old 01-29-2013, 09:04 PM   #2
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Slab leak advice needed! Help


seems like you should be the plumber, that guy is an idiot what you have is a hot water leak under the slab in one of the supply loops. one. you can call a leak detection company to pin point the break or just bi pass the loop and re route the line, stay way from the home warranty plumbers. keep the hot water off until you solve the problem, and don't call roto rooter.
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Old 01-29-2013, 09:12 PM   #3
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Thanks! He just could not explain the loss of hot water , the sound of water running and the warm floor, all simultaneously, all appearing at the exact same time means I need a hot water heater repair and a $300 valve placed outside to detect a leak OUTside.

He seemed rather annoyed that I was questioning him.

Like my car is overheating and he wants to start figuring out my overheating problem by looking in the trunk.
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Old 01-29-2013, 09:14 PM   #4
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Slab leak advice needed! Help


Look at the meter with the hot turned on- is it spinning? probably so
Turn off the supply to the WH- Now does the meter stop spinning? Probably so
Diagnosis complete- locate and repair leak under the slab or bypass it somehow.
Do you have a bad valve outside? Maybe, but you can address that later.
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Old 01-29-2013, 09:39 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheEplumber View Post
Look at the meter with the hot turned on- is it spinning? probably so
Turn off the supply to the WH- Now does the meter stop spinning? Probably so
Diagnosis complete- locate and repair leak under the slab or bypass it somehow.
Do you have a bad valve outside? Maybe, but you can address that later.

When you say turn off the supply to the WH, I don't think I can do that/not sure what you mean.

The only turning off I can do is:

1. Turning off the main supply at the meter using the city side access w/ a water key

2. The lever on the water heater that cuts off the water LEAVING the heater after it's been heated.

There are no other cut offs that I have access to.
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Old 01-29-2013, 09:50 PM   #6
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don't burn your self out just get with a reputable leak detection / plumbing outfit have them take care of it also look into your homeowners insurance may cover the damages to repair or reroute the line. three valves to be concerned with meter valve pre meter.. main valve in to the home.. and the valve on the water heater.
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Old 01-29-2013, 11:21 PM   #7
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Update/more info

Hadn't been in my son's bathroom in a while. When the plumber came, he didn't go into ANY bathrooms, just to the kitchen where I told him the hotspot was and to the utility room. And he walked around the outside of the house ,looking for signs of where the water may be leaking/draining to.

About a year ago I replaced the shower faucet in my son's restroom. I hadn't caulked around the face plate, so it's kind of just pushed back but not sealed flat.

As soon as I walked to his tub, I could hear the running water sound louder than I've ever heard it. Put my ear to the gap between the face plate and wall and was shocked at how loud the running water sound was. His restroom is directly above the kitchen. Interestingly, when I purchased the house in 09, one of the insurance companies that gave me a quote told me it had been a claim submitted a few years back by the previous owners for the 2nd restroom having a leak. Not sure if it was a pipe that completely burst of an forgotten tub that over flowed. In the kitchen directly below his restroom, we noticed a very faint line that was painted over when we bought the house.. Here lately, the demarcation line is more visible and has some slight sagging/puckering, but no stains or drips of any type, possibly the moisture from the leaking pipe causing it to warp a little.

It leads me to wonder if it's possible that there is a leak in the same place as before, even though nothing is wet.

I am going to call the previous owners tomorrow to try to get more info on that previous leak. It may not be related but It's worth a try.

Also, it it normal that the plumber didn't check any of the restroom fixtures on his initial visit?
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Old 01-30-2013, 12:37 AM   #8
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Slab leak advice needed! Help


He should ahve at least checked for any dripping faucets, leaking flappers in the toilets, water level set to high in the toilet tanks.
You need to not wait to find that leak if it's in that wall!!
Poke a hole in that sheetrock and your going to have a flood have a bucket ready.
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Old 01-30-2013, 06:55 AM   #9
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Call the insurance company and tell them the guy they sent is trying to run up the bill with unneeded extras----He sounds like a lying thief to me---I wouldn't want the guy in my house for any reason.
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Old 01-30-2013, 07:14 AM   #10
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i use a medical stethescope to zero in on where the sound is loudest. if you gan take the round trim cover off the bath valve you might can look around with an angle mirror and flashlight. remember it may start at one place and the leak will seem to be somewhere else. you are on to something with the warm floor, but water goes downhill so keep snooping around. hopefully the plumber stubbed up different lines behind the water heater (if you don't have a manifold) to send water to each outlet faster than looping. if this is the case you will need to find which line is bad and probably pex overhead to the kitchen or wherever the leak is. remember no fittings overhead on pex and must be over insulted ceilings. be looking at the easiest route from the water heater to the kitchen faucet. take off that trim plate at the shower and snoop around there first. probably two screws hold it on after one screw or allen takes off the handle.
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Old 01-30-2013, 07:44 AM   #11
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Slab leak advice needed! Help


Quote:
The lever on the water heater that cuts off the water LEAVING the heater after it's been heated.
That should stop the leak if it is on the hot side and sounds like it is.

Quote:
Call the insurance company and tell them the guy they sent is trying to run up the bill with unneeded extras----He sounds like a lying thief to me---I wouldn't want the guy in my house for any reason
I agree. Insist they send a different plumber or allow you to get one of your own and they pay for the repair.
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Old 01-30-2013, 10:19 AM   #12
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Slab leak advice needed! Help


I am calling the warranty company as I type this.

This morning when my daughter went downstairs to turn the hot water lever on so she could take a shower, she noticed she could hear the hot water hissing/running under the kitchen floor where the hot spot was. We have never HEARD water running under the floor, just felt the hotspot. The water running sound had always sounded like it was in the wall behind my son's tub.


If we turn off the hot water lever from the wh, the running water sound that we have always heard in the wall doesn't stop, but the hot spot goes away and the sound of water running under the kitchen floor goes away. The running water sound (like someone is taking a shower somewhere, is continuous, whether we turn off the wh lever or not.

I can't remember if we have turned the main supply off at the street and listened to see if the running water sounds stops or not. Going to go try that now.

Either way, I need some work done that requires a plumber.
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Old 01-30-2013, 11:48 AM   #13
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Two leaks maybe? When you turn the hot water lever off does the main water meter keep turning?
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Old 01-30-2013, 12:00 PM   #14
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When we turned the water off at the main by the street, the red arrow stopped spinning. When my son went to turn the hot water heater lever on to take his shower, it seems as if the hot water isn't making it thru the pipes any more. The water was lukewarm. My daughter took het shower three hrs prior and said the hot water came out fine but was hotter than usual. She closed the lever after her shower so it would be hot water for us later but it doesn't seem like that's working any more. I'm not a pro but it seems like the hot water is leaking out after it leaves the wh before it gets to the pipes that takes it upstairs. But the running water sound and dial spinning is constant, regardless if the hot water pipe from the wh is open or not.

When we turned the water main off, I couldn't hear the running water sound.
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Old 01-30-2013, 12:02 PM   #15
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oh, my son said it started lukewarm and in seconds it went completely cold.
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