Nobody Can Find Our Pressure Reducing Valve -- Or Our Main

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riversurf

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Four plumbing companies have come up empty. In fact, none of them have even been able to locate where the main enters our house. Neighborhood pressure is 90-100 psi, according to the utility, so we know there's a PRV somewhere. Our pressure is 50% of what our neighbors have. We've spent more than $1000 just to find the thing (I'd be thrilled to find the entry point for main) with zero results, and I have no idea what else to do.

I have a quote for replacing the main and installing a new PRV, but I don't understand how they can do that if they can't even find the current main entry point into the house. And what if the PRV is inside an interior wall (which I'm being told is a possibility)? We'd be in the same place, minus the big bill for the new main. There is no access panel in the house behind which a PRV might be hiding, and obviously I'm not going to start randomly ripping out drywall.

If anybody has any suggestions, I'd be very grateful. Thank you.

Edit: A couple of these companies are "the best of the best" according to online ratings and feedback, I'm not trying to do this on the cheap.
 
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Jeff H Young

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Its a process
I cant tell you why a electronic leak and pipe locator cant do his job . or why you havent got decent service
 

riversurf

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What kind of foundation do you have?
Slab with daylight basement. Three plumbers have predicted three different entry points for the water main. Doesn't give me much confidence. Right now, I'd be thrilled just to know where my water main comes into the house. No access panels, no main valve other than the one at the meter. Yesterday, and it's probably not worth anything, is that there's a grounding wire clamped to the water line that comes out of the wall and goes into the tankless water heater. Maybe it stubs off the main? That would put the main in a position that I've been told is where they often enter the house: about even with a hose bib, just a few feet inside the wall. (And there are 2 layers of sheet rock and patches I'd have to go through just to expose one section between the studs (I'm no handyman, either).

I'm getting one of those fiber optic cameras to put into a hole in the wall. Maybe I'll see something helpful.
 

Tuttles Revenge

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start with a phone call to 811. Have your utilities located from your water meter to the house. You'll have to mark the area in White paint. I have had locator guys "guess" where the water line is and miss by a mile. But once the area is marked you can dig from the meter and see which direction your water main is going and what material it is. If its metalic then they should be able to locate 100% accurately. If its plastic with no tracer wire or tape, then its a guessing game if the trench was straight or random. (i've had to run a main way wide of a registered prize tree in a yard once, so I know a straight line isn't always assumable)

You may also be able to locate your water main in the home by depleting all the pressure, then with a far away hose spigot already on, turn the meter back on with several people listening to the walls in various locations. repeat until located.
 

Jeff H Young

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blowing air through might help everything takes time. pipes in attic ? under slab ? crawlspace ?
he is complaining pressure is low ? maybe old galvie plugged up too little info for a helpfull responce .
Dont know how the op figures or assumes a regulator is somewhere
 

Tuttles Revenge

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blowing air through might help everything takes time. pipes in attic ? under slab ? crawlspace ?
he is complaining pressure is low ? maybe old galvie plugged up too little info for a helpfull responce .
Dont know how the op figures or assumes a regulator is somewhere
I think they're not complaining about low pressure. Just evidence that they have a PRV is that their measured pressure is lower than the given pressure by the municipality and their neighbors measured pressure. They can't find their main or the PRV, which should be located because it eventually will need servicing. It could be buried next to the meter or it could be buried in a wall.

Homes in the Seattle area built in the 40's-60's often have their main water shut off valve buried just outside of the house with a bent metal rod protruding to ground level (when the house was built) attached to the main valve. Never Ever Ever attempt to turn that handle. It will break in the worst position whether it is on or off, whichever is worse for whatever you're doing.
 

Jeff H Young

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I would lean toward it near the meter or near the house and not randomly in between as well but seen them 6 or 8 ft from curb as well. he also says he spent over a grand trying to find the regulator. ive seen bad regulators give a shot of high pressure water than slow way down but again grasping straws and guessing.. pretty much know as well it could be anywhere. bad regulators almost never reduce pressure hopefully him by reading some of our comments get some idea what to do.
But I find paying over a grand with absolutely no progress un impressive
 

Tuttles Revenge

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I would lean toward it near the meter or near the house and not randomly in between as well but seen them 6 or 8 ft from curb as well. he also says he spent over a grand trying to find the regulator. ive seen bad regulators give a shot of high pressure water than slow way down but again grasping straws and guessing.. pretty much know as well it could be anywhere. bad regulators almost never reduce pressure hopefully him by reading some of our comments get some idea what to do.
But I find paying over a grand with absolutely no progress un impressive
Yep.. Personally I would start by digging at the Known point.. the meter. But got to call 811 prior to any digging in our area. Hitting a gas main without that being done is pretty serious.
 

riversurf

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start with a phone call to 811. Have your utilities located from your water meter to the house. You'll have to mark the area in White paint. I have had locator guys "guess" where the water line is and miss by a mile. But once the area is marked you can dig from the meter and see which direction your water main is going and what material it is. If its metalic then they should be able to locate 100% accurately. If its plastic with no tracer wire or tape, then its a guessing game if the trench was straight or random. (i've had to run a main way wide of a registered prize tree in a yard once, so I know a straight line isn't always assumable)

You may also be able to locate your water main in the home by depleting all the pressure, then with a far away hose spigot already on, turn the meter back on with several people listening to the walls in various locations. repeat until located.
Tomorrow someone from the city is going to check the pressure at the meter. It's unlikely that it's low there, but it's another data point. I've called 811, waiting for them to set something up, but I've been told they are just as likely to guess if they can't get a good read. It's a copper line, yet two companies failed to find the line even with electric gear (charging the line, I think it's called) because of "too much interference from other metallic sources." It's a bit maddening. I've actually ordered a stethoscope to do some listening, as you suggest. Today, I noticed that the pipe feeding the water heater has a grounding wire attached to it, so I'm hoping the main is right behind the wall. But I don't know if that's a reasonable assumption.
 

John Gayewski

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Call 811. Be there when they show up to locate. Many times when they locate here for us, they won't spray lines in your yard only from the city main to your shutoff. But if your there when they are there and you ask nicely you can ask them to tell you where it is and they will do it. They'll also unofficially tell you the depth they they think it's buried.
 

Jeff H Young

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Call 811. Be there when they show up to locate. Many times when they locate here for us, they won't spray lines in your yard only from the city main to your shutoff. But if your there when they are there and you ask nicely you can ask them to tell you where it is and they will do it. They'll also unofficially tell you the depth they they think it's buried.
811 is to locate utilities Im assuming they dont mark from the meter at the curb to wherever else the house (never heard of that befor) or to the irrigation valves. but i do understand a lot of places have the water meter in the basement in which case I guess they mark the main to the house .
 

riversurf

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Call 811. Be there when they show up to locate. Many times when they locate here for us, they won't spray lines in your yard only from the city main to your shutoff. But if your there when they are there and you ask nicely you can ask them to tell you where it is and they will do it. They'll also unofficially tell you the depth they they think it's buried.
I called them to set up a time next week. Thanks
 

John Gayewski

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811 is to locate utilities Im assuming they dont mark from the meter at the curb to wherever else the house (never heard of that befor) or to the irrigation valves. but i do understand a lot of places have the water meter in the basement in which case I guess they mark the main to the house .
Our water meters are in the houses. They are owned by the home owner as is the service line from the curb stop to the house. Since the city (who is locating) doesn't own the service line or meter they don't mark it. They only mark what they don't want hit and will effect your neighbors. But if your there when they locate they try to help. They just won't mark it for fear of responsibility for a line that isn't theirs.
 

Jeff H Young

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similar here in that we own and are responcible for our side of the meter but you are responceable for customer side of stop .

I like your thoughts on being there and perhaps getting a little co operation from utility workers .
What I dont get is if a leak detection /pipe locator service struck out , how they could locate it ? in any case the call to 811 as mentioned befor is the best step next to take and it dont cost 1000 dollars and might save money vs damaging other utilities
 

riversurf

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I think they're not complaining about low pressure. Just evidence that they have a PRV is that their measured pressure is lower than the given pressure by the municipality and their neighbors measured pressure. They can't find their main or the PRV, which should be located because it eventually will need servicing. It could be buried next to the meter or it could be buried in a wall.

Homes in the Seattle area built in the 40's-60's often have their main water shut off valve buried just outside of the house with a bent metal rod protruding to ground level (when the house was built) attached to the main valve. Never Ever Ever attempt to turn that handle. It will break in the worst position whether it is on or off, whichever is worse for whatever you're doing.
You've summed it up pretty well. At this point, I would be thrilled to find where the main enters house. I'm kinda dumbfounded that three companies have come up with three different answers, yet they haven't actually found anything. When one of them started using dowsing rods(!), I thought I was dreaming. I told them as nicely as I could that I'm not paying for the time they spend on that. Of course it didn't work.
 

riversurf

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similar here in that we own and are responcible for our side of the meter but you are responceable for customer side of stop .

I like your thoughts on being there and perhaps getting a little co operation from utility workers .
What I dont get is if a leak detection /pipe locator service struck out , how they could locate it ? in any case the call to 811 as mentioned befor is the best step next to take and it dont cost 1000 dollars and might save money vs damaging other utilities
Leak detection company hasn't been involved yet, just three plumbing companies (or is it four?). Utility worker should be here soon.
 

Tuttles Revenge

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You've summed it up pretty well. At this point, I would be thrilled to find where the main enters house. I'm kinda dumbfounded that three companies have come up with three different answers, yet they haven't actually found anything. When one of them started using dowsing rods(!), I thought I was dreaming. I told them as nicely as I could that I'm not paying for the time they spend on that. Of course it didn't work.
We've hired dowsers in eastern washington. The guy said that he could only find what he's asked to find.. nothing random. Located an old water line and an old sewer line spot on and to the inch how deep it was. My brother can do it too.
 
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