Leak where galvanized water pipe enters house through concrete foundation

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by Texas Brit, Oct 13, 2012.

  1. Texas Brit

    Texas Brit New Member

    Jul 20, 2011
    Howdy --

    I would be extremely grateful if members of the forum could take a look at the photos below and give me some advice on how to tackle the problem I am facing.

    We have an old house in Houston, Texas, built in 1950. Our policy is to do necessary maintenance without overspending, because the value of the property lies entirely in the land.

    We recently noticed a leak and have opened up the drywall to reveal the water pipe where it enters the house through the concrete foundation and a hole in the wooden sole plate.

    I'm just an ignorant Brit but what i found surprised me quite a bit. On the close-up photo you can see that a one inch diameter galvanized iron pipe emerges from a two inch diameter galvanized iron pipe. Water and mud was flowing up from the gap between the two pipes.

    After I cleared all the mud away i poked a 12 inch hacksaw blade down the gap between the two pipes. I actually lost my grip and it fell down there.

    This gap struck me as very odd -- i would have expected to find some kind of watertight 2" to 1" reducer joint. But as I say, I'm just an ignorant Brit, so perhaps the set-up you can see in the photos is pretty normal?

    Anyway how should I tackle this?

    Over time I know we are going to have to replace all of the galvanized pipe, but for the time being I would just like to fix immediate problem.

    Can i dig out around the service line outside the house, cut out a few feet of the horizontal pipe leading to the house, pull the vertical 2" pipe segment back through the foundation and replace the sections i remove with new pipe? If so what would be the best material to use.

    Thanks in advance!



    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Oct 13, 2012
  2. kreemoweet

    kreemoweet In the Trades

    Sep 7, 2009
    Seattle. WA
    So it seems someone thought fit to use a "protective sleeve" when they installed the water service. It just seems like madness to even
    think about pitchy-patching galvanized pipe of that age. When you dig it up, you are likely to find a rusted lumpiness that can not be
    unscrewed from any fitting (provided you can find a fitting) and cannot be threaded if cut. Plastic (PEX) is cheap and easy to install, and
    is widely used for water service lines.
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  4. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Sep 2, 2004
    Retired Systems engineer for defense industry.
    New England
    If you're lucky, the water you found was ground water, and not from a leak in the supply pipe. Not sure of the wisdom of using galvanized as a protective sleeve, but it's what you've got.

    If there's a supply line leak, be prepared to change the entire line out to the street as once you start exposing it then trying to cut or unscrew one piece, you may disturb other section(s) and just have to keep going! Depending on the depth of the line, be very careful - people die regularly when the walls of a trench cave in on them.
  5. Texas Brit

    Texas Brit New Member

    Jul 20, 2011
    Thanks very much for the responses. I finished cutting out the drywall in the affected area today and have got some fans running to dry out the woodwork. I also dug down to the galvanized iron service pipe outside the house and exposed the section that rises through the foundation. I'm going to dig out the entire service line and then call out a plumber to replace it. Digging is very tough in Houston because we have a clay soil. When it is dry it's like solid rock and when it's wet it just clings to your spade, so I made fairly slow progress. I only got the first 10 feet of about 50 dug out today. But digging out the soil around the pipe appears to have stopped water and mud from oozing up the 2" sleeve in the photo when the water is on. We've mostly had the water turned off today, but i turned it back on to take a shower and there were no problems. (We also live close to our local YMCA, so we can shower there if we really need to. I'm not in a huge hurry on this, so I figure I will finish the digging next weekend. I will post again to report how it goes.
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