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Question DetailsAsked on 10/28/2016

How many hot water lines are there to reroute in a home? Considering 3/B/2B, kitchen and laundry room.

I've had 3 reroutes in the last 1 1/2 years. First done in the laundry room, 2nd close to the hot water heater and 3rd in the guest bathroom. All have been rerouted through the attic. Now I'm experiencing the same symptom of warm floor in both bathrooms and hearing the water running in bathroom wall. \\, while hot water line is on. There has been a shut off valve placed on the hot water heater line. Today just replaced main water line pressure valve? (I think that's what they said) But water is still leaking per water meter. Hot water is turned off through the shut off valve.

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Depends on the house layout. Commonly - one run to the main/central bathrooms (both hot and cold lines of course), usually single pipes leading to nearest bathroom then splitting off there to other nearby ones - through floors or walls as applicable. If back-to-back bathrooms usually comes up in common wall and splits both ways from there, with continuing runs to any further out bathrooms or laundry room or such. Lines to a bathroom almost always run fixture-to-fixture within the bathroom - commonly tub/shower first (needs greatest water flow), then toilet, then basin at end of run, so only one line through the bathroom - not individual runs to each fixture (usually - unless a high-flow dedicated line was put in for multi-headed or high-pressure shower or jacuzzi or such).

Then - usually a separate run to the kitchen assuming it is not along the way to the bathrooms, which may have split-offs for washer, dishwasher, and any bathrooms at that end of house. So commonly 2 main runs, splitting off to different demand point as it passes through/by them. Plus separate runs for pool, outside sauna/hot tub, etc commonly.

Sometimes a bathroom at a remote part of the house will have its own line - or the run to kitchen may be 1" rather than 3/4" up to where the kitchen and bathroom lines diverge to avoid line losses on a long run.

You say "reroutes" - I presume the rerouting is being done either because these are underslab lines or they run through brick or concrete walls/floors - or you are trying to minimize the amount of wall/ceiling damage in replacing pipe so taking a route through easy-to-run territory.

Sounds like you have general pipe deterioration with that many repairs in a couple of years - I would ask your plumber WHY the leaks occurred - was it poor quality joints (so others in system probably have same problem), external pipe corrosion internal pipe corrosion (and general or localized), or what - so you might get an idea whether these are local issues, or chronic and applicable to all the old piping.

So, if due to general deterioration or multiple poorly soldered joints say, might be your entire water piping needs replacement (minus what you have already done of course). Normally, running one main line through the basement/crawlspace if you have one - for single or two story house, and one through the attic to feed from there (for 2-story house, or one-story slab-on-grade construction) would be all you need for main runs - (or one run only for 1-story house) then taps off those to the usage points. [When I say "one run", might actually be two runs teed-off each way from a central riser from where the water enters the house - or a single one whole length of house if water comes in at an end.]

Tracking down the leak location is usually pretty easy with a metal-head stethoscope (about $10-15 at pharmacy department) - deciding on whether to reroute or repair is the tough decision. Sounds in your case, since you say warm floor but nothing about water flooding, that your lines are under or in-slab - so about $300-500 per repair point commonly if he has to go through the slab to repair it.

If the lines are metal and generally corroding out, or copper and in-slab (in contact with concrete) then total abandonment of the in-slab piping and replumbing the house through the house (or at least all under/in-slab parts if only that part is externally corroded) would be the normal thing recommended and done, because copper corrodes badly in contact with concrete.

Of course, I presume you either live in an area where the attic never freezes, that the lines have been run along the top of the downstairs ceiling drywall/plaster in the attic and insulated above them, or you have a heated attic.

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As for tracking down your leak - if you shut off the hot water shutoff valve (presumably at or near the water heater) and the meter stops moving (assuming all water uses in the house are turned off), then a hot line is leaking in the house. (This can be a true leak, a running/dripping faucet, or a running toilet if your toilet feed water is tempered - hot and cold mixed to provide warm water in the tank to minimize "sweating" or condensation on the tank and pipes).

You should also have a main shutoff valve for the house (usually very close to where the pipe comes into house / comes up through the slab) though sometimes that is before the meter so does not help in this case. If you have a shutoff at the house, see next paragraph. If not, then if your shutoff is on the utility side of the meter you have no way to isolate the house piping from the outdoors, unless your pressure regulator is the type that be totally shut off to zero pressure. It may take putting a shutoff valve (brass or stainless ball valve is best) on the pipe right after it enters the house to be able to isolate whether the leak if indoors or outdoors if you can't find the leak using the metal rod and listening method described a ways below here.

If you have a shutoff at the house, if you shut that off and then open the highest elevation faucet or water usage point (usually upstairs bathroom basin or kitchen sink) to relieve the pressure in the house system that will tell you if it is in the house or not if the meter stops moving. If meter stops moving completely then leak was in the house piping somewhere - if no change then probably between meter and the shutoff valve unless the faucet flows full force even with the shutoff valve off - which would indicate the shutoff valve has failed and is not shutting off the water at all. You open the faucet to determine if the shutoff valve is actually shutting off all the way or not - commonly older ones will leak a bit, but doing that relieves the pressure in the system so if the faucet runs or drips a bit only with the shutoff valve closed then the meter should stop counting (or move MUCH slower) if there is no leak. But if the leak drops off somewhat but not totally per the meter then you may need to measure the water coming into the house (timed period of flow with measured buket or container at tub is usually easiest, typically 5-30 minute measurement period depending on how much water is coming into the bucket) and then compare that with the amount of flow the meter is showing per same time period to determine if the flow to the tub is the total getting past the leaking shutoff valve or if there is a leak also. This can sometimes tell if there is another leak in the house piping - but if it is a pinhole leak that only flows under pressure, it will not show up with the shutoff valve closed and a faucet open, because it only has measureable leakage under full pressure.

Of course, with the shutoff valve closed, tracking along the water lines in the house (including under slab) with the stethoscope it is generally possible to track even very small misting or slow drips. I routinely find leaks that can be heard in the pipes in a quiet room or in the quiet of night while in bed, which sound pretty loud and are easily traced with the stethoscope, but turn out (even after several days of leaking) to sometimes not even has reached the floor in a wall or appeared in an underrlying ceiling - just soaking the insulation in the immediate area or even evaporating almost as fast as they leak. Have had a couple in my house that I actually measured after I found them - were misting (not even a visible spray - had to feel the misty spray with my hand to find the exact spot of the pinhole) which were only putting out less than a quarter and a half cup of water a day respectively. I have also found very slow drips that way - dripping only every 5-10 seconds, yet the hiss at the leak was detectable with the stethoscope from many feet aways, tracking along the line routing.

If the meter stops moving when you shut off the main shutoff valve at the house, then the leak has to be between there and the meter - outside or where pipe comes into the house. Can track using a metal rod (piece of rebar, wrecking bar, piece of metal pipe) pushed/driven 6-12 inches into the ground (careful not to hit shallow utilities) and stabilizing the rod very loosely in loosely circled fingers (no gripping, as that absorbs the sound) and with stethoscope on the side of the rod, you can move the rod around to locate the leak under the ground, typically within an accuracy about equal to the burial depth of the line - so within a foot to three in warm areas, within 3-10 feet in areas with more than nominal frost penetration in winter. (This method also works fairly well in carpet floors,, tracking pipe leakage sound through piping in the subfloor).

Of course, if you have unusual warm slab and can hear the leak in the wall (or through the wall) then that leak you have pretty well tied down - stethoscope should tie it down within a foot or two, and if no visible water in house or basement/crawlspace (which you probably don't have), then it must be leaking out under the slab.

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Depending on house layout and whether you have easy basement, crawlspace, or attic access (clearly only latter if slab-on-grade foundation), then finishing off the replumbing of the house (water supply lines only, sewer lines usually OK under or in slabs) might commonly run $2000-3000 in a normal sized compact (boxy) single story house, as much as double that maybe in a strung-out hacienda with courtyard or U-shaped ranch or such with bathrooms and kitchen/laundry and such at extreme ends of the house, and again sometimes up to that much for a second story depending on which floor has most of the water-consuming areas.

And no homeowner's insurance does not cover that - and generally neither does home warranty or pipe insurance - they will repair specific leaks but rarely go for line relocation or total replacement cost.

As to sources of in-home leakage you might not think to look for, which can cause excess water usage - dripping faucets, "running" toilet (check by putting dark food coloring in tank and look for leakage into the bowl), "running" or leaking auto-fill items like fish tanks / hot tub / pool / sauna / birdbath / fountain or water feature / animal water bowl or watering trough, water heaters (leaking through overtemp/ overpressure relief valves or sprung a leak), stuck backflush cycle valve on water treatment system so it is continuously backflushing to the sewer, leaking or left-on irrigation/sprinkler system, hose or outdoor or barn faucet left on and froze so ruptured hose is leaking or frozen outdoor faucet is leaking.

Also, in rare areas with a continuous water circulation system to prevent water line freezing (mostly Alaska and Canada permafrost country, a few high mountain and a few way-upper tier states where bedrock is shallow so pipes are installed in the freezing or permafrost zone), if the return circulation line improperly comes off on your side of the meter (rare but I have seen it) and it is leaking, that can show as meter usage.

Note - some water utilties will refund a portion of the excess water usage charges (the amount over your normal use) if you present them with a plumber's invoice itemizing the work he did and not specifically that he found and repaired a leak AND that he confirmed the meter is no longer turning when everything is off. They won't pay for the repair cost - but you might get some refund on the water consumption charges.

Answered 2 years ago by LCD




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