Asked on Dec 31, 2012

Leaking water main...pipe is in concrete floor and we have no clue

by Jo
if this is something we could possibly fix on our own?
Hi! Hope everyone had a great holiday and has a wonderful/safe new year. I asked a question here awhile back about repairing holes in the wood floor of our old farm house rental and the advice was great! Here's the link to that post ... Floors are now fixed and painted! Now I'm hoping to get some advice regarding this leak.
We have to move into this place this coming Sat. My husband and I had the water turned off a few months ago to save a little money until we moved in. When we turned off the water we had a very, very small leak coming from the main. We turned water on today and the leak is a lot larger. Neither of us has seen this type of main where the pipe is going down into a concrete slab floor. My husband said he saw that the leak was coming from right above where the pipe meets the floor, almost on the floor. Oh and my husband turned the water back off so some of the leak had dried before these photos were taken.
Our landlord is gone for the winter. He won't be back until March so we're hoping we can fix this on our own instead of going for the expense of a plumber. We are totally tapped out at this point. My husband hasn't tried to take apart anything yet but surely this could be done without tearing through concrete? lol I hope? I'm adding pictures and if anyone has any ideas we would really appreciate it.
TIA and Happy 2013 everyone :)
  13 answers
  • Yes and no to answer your question. However I am wondering if indeed its the water main at all. I noticed a water stain next to the hot water heater. If that is leaking water can be soaking the floor and possibly coming up from there and not the pipe itself. Three things can cause this leak. 1. Leaking packing nut or connection point where plastic pipe connects to the fitting where the valve is located. This is corrected by tightening the clamp and or the packing nut that is located right under the blue valve handle shut off location. Most likely issue. Perhaps a new hose clamp is needed here. 2. Cracked pipe. This is pretty rare, unless some how the plastic pipe has been moving. Very common occurrence where this type of pipe runs through a side wall where the soil settled and caused pressure on the pipe which results in a leak. This fix may or not be something you can do. You would need to get either the water company out to turn off the main in the street, or you would do this yourself if you had a street handle. Then jack hammer around the PVC pipe to expose the damaged pipe, Cut it our and replace with newer pipe and fittings. 3. Water table rising. If there has been a lot of water around your home. It is possible for water to begin to build pressure under the slab resulting in a false leak as it comes up from around the pipe. Simply watch for changes as the weather changes to make this determination. 4. Leaking hot water heater. I recently had a neighbor who thought that their valve or pipe was leaking. it turned out to be a hot water heater and the water soaked into the slab and showed up much like your stain is. Check with your water supply company. They can determine what if anything is wrong and provide you with the help needed to fix if you cannot do it yourself. Also check if you have water main insurance or a extra binder on your home owner policy and fix it with insurance.
  • Jo Jo on Dec 31, 2012
    Thanks Woodbridge Environmental.. about that water heater. It is also leaking. We believe that is a element that needs to be replaced. I'm not *quite* as worried about that one as the leak in the main. We don't own the home and landlord is gone for the winter so home owner's insurance is out. I'm hoping it's option 1. out of what you wrote! Keep your fingers crossed for us! Thanks so much for your response :)
  • If the hot water heater was off when you moved in and you just turned it on. It is common for them to drip water from condensation that occurs when the water warms up. So you may find that this leak may go away after a day. If not, do not hesitate to replace heater. It will to a tremendous amount of damage in short order if its allows to leak onto finished floors. Not worth the cost of waiting.
  • Jo Jo on Jan 01, 2013
    Yeah I hear you about the hot water heater. It was fine before. The landlord replaced the top heating element in the summer. What's going on this time is that after we turned on the water and started filling up the tank water started "gushing" out of the lower heating element. At least that's what my husband said. My teenaged son on the other hand, who was with him, said it looked to him to be coming from the bottom. Either way we have another hot water heater to replace this one with...sigh. I have no clue why on earth it would suddenly be gushing water from anywhere! It was drained when we turned off the water a few months ago and even with cold weather nothing was able to freeze and crack since they were empty!
  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on Jan 01, 2013
    you might try tightening the stem packing nut on the water valve...I have fixed a few this way.
  • Jo Jo on Jan 01, 2013
    thanks KMS Woodworks.. husband is over there now attempting to figure out at least if the water is coming out where he thought it was or *hopefully* a little higher, like from under that rubber piece that looks like it's going into the concrete. I wish I knew how to verbalize this better!! According to husband it looks like water is coming out from right at concrete level. He said he thought he saw it coming from a crack just a miniscule distance from the floor. His eyesight ain't what it used to be though and with the way water has of tricking the eye we're not sure. Hopefully my teenage son can spot it. We HAVE to be out of our house and into this one this coming Sat. and I'm panicking a little here! Bad enough we will literally freeze but now no water?? At least we don't need any sort of tool or the water dept. to come turn off/on the water at street level, it wasn't a problem for husband to turn it off himself. Speaking of freezing. There is no central heat in the house. Obviously if we're not living there yet I'm not going to have space heaters running unless I'm there working. It's getting down to 12 and 14 degrees tomorrow night running through the rest of the week here. Should we put some anti-freeze in the toilets at least? Landlord had anti-freeze in the pipes when we first starting working there during the summer before we turned the water back on and flushed it all. Thanks again everyone. I honestly think I'm going to pull my hair out!! Everything that could go wrong is. Doesn't help that my youngest two children are sick and will miss going back to school tomorrow.
  • Turn off the water, Drain the hot water heater if the cold weather is going to continue for more then three days. If its windy do it sooner. Toilets should be also flushed then a small amount of anti-freeze should be put into the tank as well as the bowl. Do not forget to pour some into the sinks, tubs and shower drains so those traps do not freeze and crack. Also very important. Do not use the anti-freeze you use in your auto. Go to a camper place to purchase it. Much less toxic then the green stuff. You should also be able to get the correct anti-freeze at your local plumbing supply place. As far as the leak, if you do believe that the water line is leaking, Simply call the water company. They can check it for you, normally at no charge. Then If it needs to be fixed, They can suggest how to do it, or do it for you. Then cost is then put into the monthly utility bill. At least that is the case in my area. To determine if you cannot see where the leak is coming from, and you suspect it is above the floor level. Simply use some rolled up toilet paper into a pencil shape with point on end and touch around the pipe. Any water leak will soak quickly into the paper indicating where the leak is coming from. I do this trick a lot as I too suffer from aging eyes and cannot see things quite as well as I once had.
  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on Jan 02, 2013
    looking closer at the pics is that pipe plastic with hose clamps?
  • Yes that is what that is. Very common type of connection. Not the best, but I have seen this a lot.
  • Jo Jo on Jan 02, 2013
    Hi guys.. Thanks again Woodbridge Environmental. Husband did flush and put anti-freeze in last night. Fingers crossed on that end. He's going to go into work (works 2nd shift) and try to get ahold of their maintenance man to see if he will possibly come give us a hand. Unfortunately husband just does not have the know how or the tools to fix either the hot water heater or the leaking main on his own. He will certainly try though which is why I am PRAYING he can get ahold of the maintenance man and that he will lend us a hand! Meanwhile I'm cleaning/packing and dealing with a pretty sick little boy. My youngest still has a fever ... sigh.
  • Pipes really do not freeze all that fast if the house is closed up. But if there are air leaks that is when they will. Remember to turn off the main, open up all the faucets including those on the outside. This will help assure that the water will drain out of as many pipes as possible to prevent splitting if they do freeze. Try to tighten the hose clamps on the plastic main. But do so carefully, If they break the water pressure can cause the valve to forced up causing a major flood.
  • Jack Jack on Jun 17, 2013
    I realize this answer might one too late for you, but just in case someone else reads this, there are alternatives to fixing pipes other than breaking into the concrete. One option, if a pipe is under a concrete slab, is to look into relining your pipes. Several companies do this process but the company we went through which will answer some questions about how it works is
  • If you have hardwood floors, you are going to experience hardwood floor water damage at some point. You can avoid significant damage, however, if you keep in mind some steps to mitigate hardwood floor water damage. Hiring a professional restoration company may be necessary if the damage is extensive.