Mystery pipe leak in ceiling

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by Terry, Mar 9, 2014.

  1. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    15,111
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    I was called out for a mystery pipe leak. Water was dripping from the ceiling tiles in the basement, with many of them sagging and falling apart.
    The floor above that had nice new wood flooring, that was now cupping. There was a fairly small water stain in the dining room ceiling, and a bit of water in the door frame between the kitchen and dining room.
    Looking at the water meter, there was no movement. Listening for the sound of running water or for a leak, there was no sound. The home had been vacant for two weeks during stormy rainy weather, and we had gone through some very cold weather too. I hate to start chopping walls can drywall, knowing that each hole I cut means drywall patching, texture and painting in that room. I like to go through it and eliminated as much of the cleanup and damage for the other subs as much as possible.
    It feels much better when the problem jumps out at you. Determining whether this was a bad South wind pushing water through a gap, or is this really a plumbing leak. Does it leak when fixtures are used, or is this a silent punisher of homes. A silent destroyer of wood flooring, carpets and ceiling tiles.

    Measuring out the home, it was determined that water was showing up near the center of the home, and coming down the cold air return for the furnace. Okay, let's open up the ceiling in the second floor dining room.

    [​IMG]

    Okay, I see some pipe and it's wet. I can't hear anything, but my finger does get wet. I dry my hand a few times, and I think I feel a small stream of water wetting my finger. I have the homeowner try the same thing. He doesn't feel it at first either. But I find that if you slow down your mind, and quiet it, you can pick up the slight difference.
    There is a small quiet stream of water issuing out of the horizontal section, not near a joint, but almost like a pin hole, or perhaps a split? It's there. We found it!
  2. Reach4

    Reach4 Active Member

    Messages:
    2,384
    Location:
    IL
    Is that red-stripe type M pretty common? Do many people choose heavier as upgrade for new construction, even where type M is permitted by code?
  3. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    15,111
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    It's what has mainly been used in the Seattle area.
    We have very good water here, and copper lasts a long time.
    When new construction is done here, the builders want it done for as little as possible.
    Builders work on a 5% to 15% margin.

    The pipe from that home was installed in 1977
  4. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    15,111
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    Mystery Pipe Leak in crawl space

    A customer called me out for a mystery plumbing leak in the crawl space of his home.
    The kitchen hardwood flooring was warping and cupping.

    [​IMG]

    Near the kitchen was a crawl space opening, also used for storing kitchen items.
    Here is what that looked like.

    [​IMG]

    Water was dripping down, some of it from pipes that went through the floor.

    [​IMG]

    Before getting too seriouse, I wanted to see what the pipes above were, and where they were going to.

    [​IMG]

    In the garage, on the same wall was a leaking water heater. The water from the leaking heater was hitting the plywood and spreading out toward the kitchen.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    We dropped in a new Bradford White water heater.
    Next, the pan needs to be piped over to the garage floor to prevent this happening again.
  5. DaveHo

    DaveHo Member

    Messages:
    53
    Location:
    SE PA
    Wow! How does a homeowner not put 2 & 2 together in a case like this? Amazing.
  6. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    15,111
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    I have also seen it go the opposite direction.
    A pipe leak in the crawl space that got the walls wet on the next floor.
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