Finding a Slab Leak in Dallas and What to do About it
John: Do people look to you if they’re not experienced in this sort of way and say what would you do if this were your house- you want to tunnel through the garage, you want to tunnel through a closet, you want to tunnel underneath the house from the side of the house; are you able to give recommendations here’s the good side here’s the bad side?
Roger: They do, I get these calls often at Texas Green Plumbing. I get calls from friends that maybe aren’t even using me they’re like Roger look I’m sorry you know we live further out than you go so we called somebody else. They’re telling me I have this problem and they’re giving me this pricing and they want to do it this way what do you think? And I always ask them what did they give you options and is there another way you can go with it; it’s always good to know that you have choices.
John:: Now we’ve been talking about slab leaks in particular, what’s the first thing people should do besides just turn off all your water at the street or wherever if you detect a leak or if you think you might have a slab leak or one of those neighbors is oh yeah it looks like you got a leak there you might as well just pack up and move.
Roger: I’ve got a lady in Plano right now that her slab leak is so bad it’s flooding her neighbor’s front yard and her house is about 3 feet higher and literally you can look over in their front yard and it looks like a river. We did talk to her, she is turning off the water or only turning it on as she needs it; we went out and did a leak location and determined it was on the hot water side so she had a ball valve on her hot water heater so she was actually able to turn it off when she’s not using it. So she’d turn it on to take a shower. That lets the ground drop a little bit and it’s given her a little bit of time to figure out exactly what she wants to do and how she wants to go about the repair which way.
John:: I think about her that neighbor with the leak in my yard, just take a shower in my house. How much time you have before you better get this taken care of or you’re going to cause permanent damage?
Roger: Anytime there’s a leak under a slab it’s slowly causing damage, a lot of foundation problems and that’s a big deal with insurance company is do the water really cause the foundation or the foundation cause the water leak; what came first the chicken or the egg? There’s not really a way to know and they say oh well we’ve got engineers that can test it and determine that, I’m just calling B.S.
How can you tell me that the foundation shifted and cause the water leak or the water leak caused the Earth to erode away and caused the foundation shift? It’s just their way to try to get out of it I guess.
John:: And that’s what they’re in business trying to keep their costs low and but they’re what I was always told is it’s a it just happened, it was sudden, is not been an ongoing leak for months, it didn’t happen last year and I ignored it didn’t walk to that side of the house. How tough is it to actually find the spot because again to refer back to what I went through they said they thought it was here, they gave us the choice do you want to go through the garage floor or tunnel twenty feet they knew it was going to at least twenty feet to go under the house which was very expensive and it was going to be on our wallet but then when they tunnel down through the garage which we chose then they said well it wasn’t in the spot that we thought so it’s going to cost you more money to go to the left a few feet over that way and it did. So how tough is it to actually locate it when you can’t see it?
Roger: Was the leak under your water line or sewer?
John:: I believe that was the waterline, it’s a small little pipe.
Roger: To locate the leak on the waterline what we do is, we’ve got the greatest electronic equipment. Alot of companies still use geophones which there’s nothing wrong with them. They are basically a stethoscope. You’ve got to metal geophones they’re made of brass you put them out you’ve got literally hoses that come up into your ears and you listen under the slab. The electronic equipment that we have we’ve got Leaktronics equipment from California which is fantastic, I’ve got an LS Leak detection system, a from subsurface leak detection, I got a LS-15 they’re both great equipment. I mean we’ve probably got 20 30 thousand dollars worth of listening equipment just for this.
So to locate it what you do is first of all you go in you shut the valve off in the yard to make sure the leaks not in the yard that it is under the house. Isolate it, then you come into the water heater if there’s a working ball valve turn it off, now you check again is the leak on the hot side or the cold side. Once you know one where the leak is or what system it’s on then you literally go through and you start locating and what we do is we run electronic signal through that system and we’ve got another tool that goes through to where we can literally mark exactly where the water lines are under your house. And at that point we pull out our listening equipment. We induce air into the system and now we’re going through and we’re listening for bubbles and boiling it’s a certain signature noise that it makes.
Before that you can also go through and listen to all the angle stops, listen to all the shower valves, listen everywhere water has a very unique noise and once you learn how to hear that noise and how to find it, it can be found. One of the best leak detection jobs ever did here in Dallas was in South Dallas at a trailer park home, I went out to a trailer home park; I went out and they told me they said we’re losing two million gallons of water a month and said we’ve had seven or eight plumbing companies come out nobody can find it. And my first thought was, two million dollars a month you’ve tried the wrong people. I went out there and believe it or not with my equipment within the first hour I had located it didn’t even know that was the big one. But, I located a leak and I’m like number one right here.
This is the signature noise we’re looking for, I went out there for the next four nights because I like to be on a property like that when nobody’s around there’s not as much water usage, people taking showers, washing clothes. So literally we go out at 10 o’clock at night and stay out there till 6 in the morning, go out there and listen to every meter. If we hear something the make meter go up to the house and listen at the house and we were able to find 3 leaks on that job. Just so happened that that first one that I found is where the water line came off the main, went over to all meters that was a one inch line and there was a hole in that one inch water line about as big as the fingernail of my little finger. Two million gallons a month. They never had surface water appear but water was apparently going down into the bedrock and go off to the stream or creek or somewhere.
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