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Question DetailsAsked on 1/8/2015

what is the best way to find a well water leak in a basement

We are buying a new home and there is a water leak in the basement. Previous owner states that he has had it fixed twice, but it is still leaking. Previous owner initially agreed to pay for the repair, however, now only wants to put $1000 towards the repair. I have one of his invoices from a repair that states there was a leak in the water line between the well and the pressure tank. The pipe was replaced. I am not sure if this was the first or second time he had it "fixed".

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Answered 4 years ago by Member Services


Many times, if you turn off all water consuming devices and shut gas devices down to pilot (so you don't hear the gas burner burning) and shut off AC and fans, you can go around in the house with a stethoscope ($10-15 at a pharmacy at a box store) lisstening to the pipes and locate leaks. You can do the same thing, expecially since you probably know about where the water line runs, using a metal rod driven in the ground 6-12 inches (get locates first so you don't hit shallow utilities) every 5-10 feet or so aloong the pipeline route, holding the rod very loosely with one hand (to prevent damping out the noise - just enough hold so it does not tip over) and with the stethoscope held on the side of the rod. A hollw piece of pipe works even better (stethoscope on top) but a lot harder to drive in. You can typically hear a leak 10-25 feet away, and of course gets louder as you move closer.

With a well system, you need to listen when the line is pressurized to full pressure of course, but when the pump itself is not running or its noise will drown out the leak - though listening while it is running can help tie down where the pipe is located if you don't know - mark a few places on line to show the alignment for going back and listening for the leak itself.

A definitive test would be to put an isolation valve on the line in the house near where the water pipe comes in (if there is not one now) and elsewhere as needed (most usually are already there), put a pressure gage first on the line from the well and the pressure tank and then on the line from the pressure tank to the house, and after line is pressured up by the pump, shut the valves to isolate the line sections to check for leaks (pressure will drop off). That will tell you which section has the problem (if any). When doing this test, you have to listen at the valves to be sure they are not leaking off the pressure into the adjacent section of pipe - not all valves, especially older ones, shut off completely.

If a section of line is tagged as leaking, then the stethoscope check can find the leak - if not with pressurized water, then by pressurizing the line with compressed air, which makes a lot more noise generally at leaks.

I would not put a lot of faith in what his guy said, if the line has been fixed several times and still leaks - unless it is full of holes. I would get a new plumber who does outside plumbing lines - or maybe a Well and Pump guy with experience in tracking down leaks, though he might or might not do the actual repair for you.

I hope the initial promise to pay for the repair was in writing in the contract (of course, you realize now it should have been mandated to be done BEFORE closing). If he agreed to pay for the full fix, he cannot now put a dollar limit on the cost he will cover. If the repair has not been done and the deal is not yet closed, maybe talk to your Realtor (or Attorney, if using a real estate attorney) about modifying the contract to make more definitive what he is going to pay for, and try to get fixed BEFORE closing, as would be usual with a defect like this.

Be sure the deal is to fix the basement water leak, NOT to fix a well water pipe leak - because you do not know for certain this is a water pipe leak - could be sewage or groundwater for all you know - which could be a LOT more expensive to track down and fix.

Answered 4 years ago by LCD

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