The Right Way To Do Leak Detection
[John]: And you are listening to the Ask the Experts Radio Show on Talk Radio 1190, I’m John Wolf. Our phone number: 214-787-1190. We’ve got experts in both plumbing and foundation work this week. Our usual guest Roger Wakefield of texasgreenplumbing.com and Roger Williamson with him today of williamsonfoundation.com and this is our final segment, so if there’s something you were thinking about it: should I ask? Hey it’s free! Give them a call 214-787-1190 and speak to both of them right now. Diving in with the question about how do you find out where the leak is? If it’s not obvious? If it’s not on your side of the wall?
[Wakefield]: It’s normally not obvious. The problem is with leaks under the slab… Sewer leaks are the worst because it’s a long, drawn-out process. You literally have to take test balls and long hoses throughout the entire sewer system. And you’ve normally only got two holes right there in the front of the house where the two-way clean outs are, and you take test balls and long hoses, you push them up the line, you what’s called flip them: you get them to turn up sideways and go into a side branch. I’ve got guys that are amazing at this and I’ve gone out with them and I’ll work with it for 30 minutes or 45 minutes trying to flip a test ball and he’ll say “look let me show you one more time” and you know, he’ll run the camera down behind it and push it up and gets it to flip right up in there. And it’s funny because you literally, you have to get a test ball lodged in then you take another test ball and you use that hose and the camera behind it pushing it and I mean, you can make them turn and go crazy. But what you do is you isolate different areas until you know that you’ve isolated, you know, one area or several areas and say “okay this is where the leak is” or “this is where they are”. The problem is sometimes you get into areas that there’s literally no way to get a test ball to that area and we’ve had some where we’ve gone in we’ve replaced the main going straight through the house, isolated the branch lines coming in it and then came in and filled those up. Luckily we had a lady that had another plumber come out and it was gonna be $27,000 and they said: look, but we can’t test all these branch lines we’re gonna assume they’re bad. And I talked to her, I said: look, let me replace the main then we can literally cap and test off the branch lines from inside and none of those had to be replaced, so she ended up paying $13,000 instead of $27,000.
[John]: Just put it on her health insurance?
[Wakefield]: Well I don’t know that it went that way but… Water lines are a little bit different. Like we were talking earlier about the valve in the yard. If we know that there’s a leak in there, if there’s a valve in the yard that we can shut off and the water stops leaking then we know the leak is out in the yard. If there’s no valve there, it’s kind of hard to tell people we don’t know if there’s a slab leak or we don’t know if it’s a yard service leak. We just know that somewhere between the meter and your water system there is a leak so that’s an issue we have to deal with.
[John]: Okay and I should mention Roger Wakefield’s very demonstrative with his hand gestures and even though it’s radio, he’s got plenty of videos online on his website texasgreenplumbing.com and on Facebook and all sorts of instructional things he said and told us in previous shows that sometimes other plumbers get a little miffed. “Why are you giving away our secrets?”
[Wakefield]: We’ve got a big presence on YouTube. YouTube has been really, really good for us. I’ll tell everybody listening if you would, you know, go out there and subscribe to our YouTube channel. We’re right now working on videos where literally, we teach people how to rebuild toilets, how to fix their water heaters, different things. There’s so many things that people can do themselves and YouTube is a great way to go ask the question “How do I rebuild my toilet?”, “how do I change my flapper?”, “how do I change my flush valve or my fill valve or my ball cock?” There’s so many different things that you can ask and literally get a tutorial video and just, I mean, you can sit there and watch step-by-step, hit pause, do that and I mean, you can save yourself several hundreds of dollars.
[John]: Okay switching gears to the Roger Williamson side of things, I know that I get very religious whenever I hear some plumbing, some foundation commercial about all the different types of foundation work that are done.
[John]: How do you decide what what you’re gonna do if someone does have a foundation problem?
[Williamson]: Well we are a company that actually is not married to one specific type of foundation repair. We do just about everything on the market. There’s actually not as many different types of piers on the market as it seems because there’s a lot of marketing that goes on where companies try to make it sound like they’ve got something really exclusive that no one else has and that’s rarely actually the case. We actually look at it on a case-by-case basis depending on the structure itself, the location of the structure, both in the Metroplex, like for instance if it’s a waterfront property in Rockwall versus a property in East Plano. There’s different types of situations with those soils and with the moisture in those soils and the movement of those soils. So one pier might be a better alternative than the other in in each of those different situations. So we look at them situationally, we do install concrete pilings, steel piers, drilled piers, helical steel piers, all of those. We also oftentimes, you were talking about your patio, we’re one of the few companies that actually has our own foam-polyurethane equipment and foam polyurethane is where we actually drill a hole through the concrete of patios, driveways, sometimes the interior center sections of houses. The holes are about the size of your index finger and we pump a heated mixture of polyurethane liquid and a foaming agent it actually expands and lifts the concrete back into position and holds it there and that material is actually Department of Transportation approved to be used on highways and international airport runways.
[John]: Is there anything that looks nice that you could use just to fill a crack? That doesn’t look like “oh just put some black tar in here, in the middle of your driveway”? It seems like that should have been available.
[Williamson]: It seems like it but everything I’ve ever found that you can use to fill a concrete crack, it still looks like a crack that’s been filled. I’ve never found anything. Now mortar you can get a brick mason out and they can do a really nice job of color matching the mortar. Matching the color is one thing, matching the weathering is where it really gets difficult, but a good mason can pretty well make those go away. But on concrete, nothing that I’m aware of.
[John]: And you’re assuming it’s gonna stretch and it’s contract?
[Wakefield]: What happens if you have a Mason come out and it rains a lot and things start going back together? Does that create other issues?
[Williamson]: It can. If cracks are filled with the foundation in a down position and then we get into a really wet year and things start to swell it can actually push those things back together and it will often, with mortar it’s pretty easy it’ll make it start crumbling out where it was. Caulk will start to bulge where you run into the bigger issues are sheetrock. Where they fixed sheetrock inside the house and all of a sudden those sheetrock repairs are trying to compress together and it’ll kind of bulge out the repair material, but it can’t necessarily go all the way back together. So oftentimes it will create another crack a little farther down the wall in the sheetrock and you often get a two-for-one when you fix the sheetrock before the foundation is really addressed.
[John]: Now Roger Wakefield has told us how he went from one of the most unstable fields: the restaurant business, into one of the most in-demand and necessary fields; plumbing. How – we don’t have a lot of time left, but how did you how did you get into your, obviously your passion here of foundation work?
[Williamson]: I was actually at Baylor to be an attorney and I was looking for a summer job went to work for a foundation repair company and just found that I had a knack for it. Being young and naive and full of optimism and confidence I decided I can fix foundations in the summers the way other people mow lawns in the summers and so I started a foundation repair company while I was in college in 1985 and just never looked back.
[John]: Here you are 40 – 30 years later, 30.
[Williamson]: 33 years, 33 years.
[John]: No stability in that field either.
[Williamson]: No none whatsoever.
[John]: Sability is what it’s all about in foundation.
[John]: Is there a most expensive versus a “oh you’re lucky” type of foundation repair?
[Williamson]: Well it really depends more on the area. A lot of people think that a large crack means a really expensive repair but the cost of repair has to do with the area of the house that’s moved, not how much it’s moved. So if a corner has dropped eight inches it still may only take five piers to correct it, versus an entire back of a house might have only dropped one inch but it’s gonna take fifteen piers to correct that area.
[John]: Okay we’re winding down here, Roger Wakefield anything you’d like to tell people about what’s coming up with your business or your websites or anything else?
[Wakefield]: We’re talking to American Standard again, they’re wanting to renew a contract with me for the expert plumber and I love that.We’re doing a lot of video work, I know Roger Williamson is too, we’re doing a lot of video work. YouTube is a great place to learn and we have found out that if we put information out on YouTube, how to do things these are things that people can – whether they do end up doing it themselves or not they can at least get on there watch it and learn and either decide: look I can do that or that is something that I may not want to take on, and if so, you know, hopefully they’ll call us or at least they’re more educated and they can talk to their plumber or the one want to deal with.
[John]: And hopefully end upwith you as their plumber.
[Wakefield]: Sounds wonderful.
[Williamson]: He’s a great one.
[John]: And we have been speaking with Roger Wakefield of texasgreenplumbing.com and Roger Williamson of williamsonfoundation.com real quickly their numbers again Roger Wakefield 972-442-4101 and Roger Williamson 469-698-8332. I’m John Wolf with you on the Ask the Experts Radio Show on Talk Radio 1190.