01:03PM | 10/22/04
Member Since: 10/21/04
1 lifetime posts

I need your expert advice on how to handle a major plumbing problem related to my 25 year old copper pipes. I recently had cause to become very concerned that I might have a leak because of a very high water bill. I had a leak detector come out to find the leak and they determined that it was under my slab near the washer & dryer in the cold line. The plumber came out and started digging in the slab, and 5 hours later @ $125/hr could not find the leak. The leak detector came out again and said that it was under the furnace which is right next to the washer & dryer area. He said that the plumber would have to determine if they could access the pipe from an adjacent closet or if the furnace would have to be moved (MIN. $800/EXPENSE). Of course, moving a 25 year old furnace has it's own risk. Now I'm also faced with upgrading the furnace.

Now I'm faced with the decision of getting the leak in the slab fixed for $3000 + $800 for moving the furnace or pipe rerouting for $5000 not included the wall repair. I've already spent $260(LEAK DETECTION) & $660 (6 hrs. plumbing charge) and all I have to show for it is an open ditch in my house. Do you think the plumber should have been able to determine if he could reach the leak in less than a 5hr. time frame. When does a professional accept the futility of their activity before calling the leak detector back (no charge return).?

I would greatly appreciate any advice you could share me on this matter.

Thank you


06:15PM | 10/22/04
We can't see underground or underslab and things can easily go wrong. You don't know what the initial installer did. The leak locator service is not available in my market yet and I am unsure how accurate they are. I know those that mark our exterior underground utilities often make mistakes. It requires experience on top of training. I couldn't tell if I could fix it in five hours. I could if someone found the leak and opened the hole.

Slab plumbing offers lower initial purchase cost but large investment later. You're at the later that all slab people go through. Usually it's the cast iron drain pipes. The worse are the ones with underslab air ducts. You should think about this and you are doing right to seek opinion. Other water pipe is going to go bad. Perhaps PEX plastic will last under a slab but copper does not.

erik peterson

01:20PM | 10/23/04
Member Since: 06/23/03
223 lifetime posts
Simply re-pipe the unit accessing through the attic or if a two-story, between floors. Do not waste your money on patches as the leaks will not hesitate using copper (hard) and type "L" or better. In california we are already re-piping houses with the latest "plastic" systems that are sometimes only 5-6 years old and have failed....avoid being part of the next class-action law-suit. Be aware also that there are a few areas where copper is inappropriate (very few) check your local codes. erik


05:22PM | 10/23/04
Erik, what plastic is going out? Is it PEX?

erik peterson

07:42PM | 10/28/04
Member Since: 06/23/03
223 lifetime posts
All plastic in my personal opinion is %^$$%#%....outside for sprinklers or for drains its acceptable. We have replaced hundreds of plastic systems including the system you mention. erik


02:44PM | 10/29/04
Erik, it concerns me that you're replacing PEX. What part of the country are you in and what is causing these failures? The pipe itself or the fittings or clamps.

erik peterson

07:24AM | 10/30/04
Member Since: 06/23/03
223 lifetime posts
San diego fail for a variety of reasons, pipe/fiitings/clamps. Amazing that none of these manufacturers ever address the problem of rodents chewing this soft material inside ceilings/walls. Im "old-school" but lets use some commen-sense. erik


03:13PM | 10/31/04
I guess I lack common sense. I have only been aware of one other report and that was in California. I have not read about this problem on or which is active with many repair plumbers across the country. Certainly we have not heard any of these reports in my area that has been using PEX in expensive new housing for five years. Am I correct to understand that the brass crimp rings and copper fittings are failing along with the pipe being mouse food?

erik peterson

04:31AM | 11/03/04
Member Since: 06/23/03
223 lifetime posts
The brand you continue to mention has been used in the San Diego area for several years and Im not sure what you consider an "expensive" new house...I think all houses should be built to last whether or not they are "expensive". For a consumer to replace an entire hot/cold system in a home that is only several years old is un-acceptable. I dont think it really matters what components are failing as the end result is the same (replacement). erik
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