Leaking water service in front yard. What are my repair options?

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & ' started by dayster, Mar 21, 2011.

  1. dayster

    dayster New Member

    Messages:
    20
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    I am getting this question out in advance of knowning the size and material of my water service: right now what I have is a hole in the front yard slowly filling with water, and its getting dark so I am putting off fully exposing the pipe.

    I expect to find 3/4" copper, but my house is almost 100 years old so if its the original service it could be something else.

    Anyhow, from what I have been able to tell, I have a pinhole-sized leak. I don't want to replace the service at this point, that will be a major job involving removing a retaining wall etc. etc. I just want a quick fix, recognizing that it may not last forever.

    So... are there ready-made repair couplings or other do-dads that I can buy to handle this problem or will I need to be replacing a length of service and splicing in a new piece with compression fittings, or...

    Any suggestions and help will be greatly appreciated!
  2. Basement_Lurker

    Basement_Lurker One who lurks

    Messages:
    668
    Location:
    Victoria, BC
    You have two options, replace the entire line, or hire someone to BRAZE on a repair coupling.
  3. dayster

    dayster New Member

    Messages:
    20
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    Braze, eh? I presume that would be a brass repair coupling then? I haven't brazed since grade 8 metal shop...
  4. johnjh2o1

    johnjh2o1 Plumbing Contractor for 49 years

    Messages:
    1,143
    Location:
    South*East
    If your looking for a temporary repair six months or so, then try a hose clamp with a piece of rubber under it until you can replace the line. If the house is 100 years old chances are it's a galvanized line. If the leak is at a fitting then this method will not work.

    John
  5. dayster

    dayster New Member

    Messages:
    20
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    Thanks John, I was thinking that way already. It isn't at a fitting (well, there's no reason why there should be a fitting in this location - tomorrow I will know for sure).

    I am probably looking for a repair good for a couple of years until mega yard reno happens. But its a shallow dig, so no big deal if my el-cheapo repair fails. There's no reason why such a repair should fail, save for the pipe underneath actually deteriorating further.

    Tomorrow I should know what material I am dealing with and will go from there.
  6. SacCity

    SacCity In the Trades

    Messages:
    189
    Location:
    Sacramento, CA
    I would recommend using a repair coupling or two.
    I use them all the time for this type of issue. Basically an over sized piece of pipe with a rubber compression sleeve on each end to seal the pipe.
    Use two of them to replace a section of pipe or one to slide over the break. I used one on a 2 inch water main on Saturday. And try to carry two of each size on my truck at all times.
    Michael
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 6, 2011
  7. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,641
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    lleak

    It would be a rare 100 year old water line if it is copper. And if it were copper, you would not likely have the leak. More likely it is galvanized, and if so, the condition of the OUTSIDE of the pipe will determine what you can do with it. IF it is severely rusted, then there may not be ANYTHING you can do since even a two bolt clamp might not seal if the pipe is badly pitted. Finish digging the hole then come back with a description, or better yet a picture, and we might be able to give better advice.
  8. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,013
    Location:
    New England
    At that age, it could also be lead...
  9. dayster

    dayster New Member

    Messages:
    20
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    IMG_2799-1.jpg

    As I expected, 3/4" copper. I suspect that the service has been replaced at some point, as the valve box riser at the property line is plastic pipe.

    Anyhow... there is a lateral rip in the pipe. Nice of it to be on top, so it is easy to see! I have done a temporary repair with a bit of bicycle inner tube and a hose clamp.

    So, should I go with compression fittings to fix this? I can see that being a bit difficult, requiring me to dig back many feet in each direction from the break so that I can lift each side of the cut in order to fit a compression union in. Or is there some sort of nice prefab repair coupling that can be slid onto one side, then over the gap, then tightened up? Any trade names or part names that will help me track down what I need will be helpful.

    The local Home Depot and equivalent had nothing, so I will be hitting up a proper plumbing supply place.

    SacCity... I think a prefab repair coupling is what you are suggesting?

    Thanks,
    Dayster
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2011
  10. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,641
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    If you can find a "Dresser coupling" or something like it for 3/4" copper, you can cut the pipe at the break, slide it on to one side , pull it back onto the other side, and tighten the two "draw bolts". My biggest question would be the "grade" of copper since that is an "unusual" type of failure, unless it is type "M" or refrigeration copper tubing.
  11. johnjh2o1

    johnjh2o1 Plumbing Contractor for 49 years

    Messages:
    1,143
    Location:
    South*East
    In my area we see type L copper failers quite often. It may have to do with the soil conditions.

    John
  12. SacCity

    SacCity In the Trades

    Messages:
    189
    Location:
    Sacramento, CA
  13. johnjh2o1

    johnjh2o1 Plumbing Contractor for 49 years

    Messages:
    1,143
    Location:
    South*East
  14. dayster

    dayster New Member

    Messages:
    20
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    Thanks all.

    I suspect the failure is due to the tubing being cold worked - bent too far and then returned, creating a weak spot, as the pipe in the vicinity looks a little "rolled" for lack of a better description - this could be an installation error.

    Thanks Michael and John - I understand that I need the correct size for copper tubing, I will try to find such a repair coupling.
  15. dayster

    dayster New Member

    Messages:
    20
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    All I could find at the supply house this morning was a Sharkbite slip coupler, and standard 3/4" couplers (not slip couplers).

    I wanted the slip style to make things easier, and the Sharkbite was less than half the price, so I went with it.

    http://www.cashacme.com/prod_sharkbite_slip_coupling.php

    I was a bit nervous that it wouldn't work, as I was concerned that the pipe in the vicinity of the repair was perhaps ovalized a bit, and also I figured that once I cut the pipe, the two sides would not be in perfect alignment.

    However, it all went well and just took a couple of minutes. Below is a picture of the coupling in place, and a closeup of the failure. I remain convinced that the failure was due to some damage to the pipe during installation.

    IMG_2806-1.jpg

    IMG_2801-1.jpg
  16. SacCity

    SacCity In the Trades

    Messages:
    189
    Location:
    Sacramento, CA
    Looks like you found a valid solution. Good Job!
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