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Old 08-08-2009, 10:43 PM
 
Location: Charleston, SC
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I'm going to be looking into a possible (probable) leak, between the house and main tomorrow. The house was built in the city ETJ 17 years ago, and the shutoff valve by the street looks to be between 8 and 12 inches deep.

How deep are water lines typically run around here? It's the deep south and there's a lot of rock to deal with so they can't be that deep? Maybe just a foot down?

I'm not sure what material the pipe is made of... looks galvanized from the meter heading out though. Maybe repairable? If I find a leak and dig the hole it might cost a lot less to repair the bad section?

Hoping for the best...
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Old 08-08-2009, 11:04 PM
 
Location: Mid South Central TX
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When our house was built (about 8 years ago), I noted that the water and sewer mains were about 12" deep. We, too, have extremely rocky soil. And I'm sure that the builder would not put them any deeper than code required. And since freezing is not really an issue, 12" seems about right.
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Old 08-08-2009, 11:16 PM
 
Location: Charleston, SC
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Ok, thanks. I was thinking they couldn't be too deep... Any idea what the water lines are made of? From what I understand schedule 40 PVC and the black plastic pipe are repairable. I doubt the line is copper, although the pipes are in the house. I can't tell much at night from the top of a 1 inch section of pipe coming from the meter. At first I was thinking galvanized, but thought that went out of use by the 1970s or early '80s.

There's a spot 5 feet from the house in line with the front corner spigot and the water meter thats a bit damp. It just came up within the last two weeks I think. At first I thought it was just the roofers using the water and spilling some on the ground, but it's been 7 days and the ground is still very damp.

In any case my plumbing skills aren't great, but I'd at least like to figure out what's going on if I do have to call somebody. Already found the 'high water bill' form on the SAWS site even though my reading won't be for another week or so.
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Old 08-08-2009, 11:19 PM
 
Location: Kallison Ranch, San Antonio,TX.
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Usually 12". No need to go any deeper since we don't get that cold. Shallow water lines tend to get hot and since most yard piping (meter to home) is PVC you may encounter a poor taste.
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Old 08-08-2009, 11:19 PM
 
Location: SoCal-So Proud!
4,263 posts, read 7,113,223 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scuba steve View Post
Ok, thanks. I was thinking they couldn't be too deep... Any idea what the water lines are made of? From what I understand schedule 40 PVC and the black plastic pipe are repairable. I doubt the line is copper, although the pipes are in the house. I can't tell much at night from the top of a 1 inch section of pipe coming from the meter. At first I was thinking galvanized, but thought that went out of use by the 1970s or early '80s.

There's a spot 5 feet from the house in line with the front corner spigot and the water meter thats a bit damp. It just came up within the last two weeks I think. At first I thought it was just the roofers using the water and spilling some on the ground, but it's been 7 days and the ground is still very damp.

In any case my plumbing skills aren't great, but I'd at least like to figure out what's going on if I do have to call somebody. Already found the 'high water bill' form on the SAWS site.
I would guess PVC. The other pipe not mentioned is Orangeberg...but I'm pretty sure that went out in the 70's as well.
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Old 08-08-2009, 11:21 PM
 
Location: Mid South Central TX
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No, I think copper is only used inside the house. Definately not galvanized. Yours is probably sched 40. In that case, you'll be able to cut the broken section out, and slip in a new section. I would check for permissible pipe adhesive, though. I don't don't that the standard purple stuff is OK for drinking water.

Looks like you'll be digging tomorrow.
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Old 08-08-2009, 11:32 PM
 
Location: Kallison Ranch, San Antonio,TX.
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scuba steve- As you know you can repair a break in PVC usually with couplings and a small section of PVC pipe or a Compression Coupling. I know you know this but after the repair is made open up your front hose bibb and flush for several seconds to clear any debris. We get a lot of calls from folks that either made their own repair or paid a Plumber who then experienced a chemical taste /smell. Almost always it is linked back to too much PVC Glue / Primer.

*If its not PVC then its most likely copper. The galvanized you see is more than likely a nipple. If you find yourself having to use Pipe Dope / Thread Sealer go easy on that. There is one fellow on the NW Side who had his sick water meter replaced by SAWS and the Meter Tech was too generous with the Pipe Dope. Well as you can imagine it got all up inside his home including his water heater. SAWS spent more money than I'll mention to cover extensive internal flushing, cases of Drinking Water, paying Private Plumbers to replace cut off valves, faucet supply lines, aerators, and even the water heater. He complained about the taste odor for months.

*Don't forget to save your sales slips for your parts. You can submit those (make copies to keep) and a short note to SAWS explaining the leak and your repair with your water bill or seperate if you like. We are very good about allowing a credit for water that was wasted (not intentionally) due to a leak. Although it won't be a full credit (cubic foot per cubic foot) it is something. I don't work in that Department but it has been my understanding that Customer's are allowed two credits /adjustments per year.

Last edited by wellguy; 08-08-2009 at 11:44 PM..
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Old 08-08-2009, 11:45 PM
 
Location: Charleston, SC
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Hope that's what it is, I'm actually ok with PVC. Copper I've got a lot less experience with but know someone who does. What worries me is that all the pipes I can see leading into the water heater closet are galvanized. But that's down the line from two water spigots (both have galvanized pipe it connects to) and that piping was probably installed after the foundation was poured and the main had to be there before any of that was put in. Lines out from the water heater are all copper. No clue what I'm going to find in the morning.

It shouldn't be too bad to locate the trouble spot since I've got about a 1sqft area in the yard that's nearly saturated. Nice and easy digging in that spot anyway.

Good to hear about the bills - I only skimmed the form and at a glance it looked like it was for paying someone to come out only. I'm good at taking pictures and keeping papers. The gory details and pictures will probably make it to my blog within a day or two.

Last edited by scuba steve; 08-08-2009 at 11:55 PM..
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Old 08-09-2009, 09:57 AM
 
Location: Charleston, SC
5,081 posts, read 7,769,883 times
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The answers...

Material - PVC
Location - near where I thought, about 3ft from the house
Depth - Maybe 6 inches... maybe.
Cause of failure - water line + firebush plant roots + builder not backfilling with sand (they used dirt and broken bricks to fill the trench) = crack in the water line

Off to shut the line off and cut out a section of the pipe to take to Lowes. I've already got about 3 feet of pipe clear up to a 45deg elbow + another 18 inches after that. Oughta be enough.

This thread will probably turn into 'how to deal with SAWS when you fix a leak.' I already have pics and video backing up the problem.
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Old 08-09-2009, 10:07 AM
 
Location: Mid South Central TX
2,438 posts, read 4,578,972 times
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I was thinking about your pipe this am...glad to hear it's almost under control!!

We did have luck with SAWS several years ago with a sprinkler leak...however, it was after calling out the sprinkler repair people. I think we were credited about 1/2 the "overage" from our (whatever month it was) norm.

I'm surprised that plant roots could damage PVC. In the northeast, there were always problems with tree roots and clay or iron pipes. Hence why they are not in use anymore.

Last edited by pobre; 08-09-2009 at 10:08 AM.. Reason: added
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