Leak in hot water line, possibly in concrete slab.

Discussion in 'The Pub' started by leftybill, Apr 14, 2016.

  1. leftybill

    leftybill Supporting Member

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    My home is on a concrete slab with my boiler and hot water heater on the second floor. Heater and boiler are in good condition, less than ten years old. In the month of March, by water bill was unusually high. Yesterday, I had a local plumber in to evaluate my problem, and he determined the leak is coming from somewhere in the hot water line coming out from the boiler. He has proposed running new lines throughout the house using what is called PEX tubing. I had him place a shut off valve on this line to allow me the time to make a carefully thought out decision without having to rush.
    Obviously, I want to get other opinions. I really liked the plumbing/heating guy that did my heater back in 08. I am hoping that he can come in next week for his opinion, and he may know the layout since he did 2 bathrooms, and the heating system.
    Because I have an engineered hardwood over the slab, I cannot see where the leak is occurring. Since it is in the hot water lines, it would have to be to a bathroom or a kitchen. At present, there is an area in the kitchen that does feel warm as you walk over it in bare feet.
    What makes the issue more complicated is that I have radiant heat in this slab as well. I certainly am not about to have the slab jackhammered to repair a leak, with the possibility of destroying my heat as well.
    Replacing he flooring is not an issue, since there has been some other damage. As of now, I have not put a claim on my homeowners, but am trying to get more information before doing so.
    I have a company called American leak detection coming out next week. Their rates are not cheap, but they claim to be able to find where the leak is occurring. My wife is concerned their could be structural damage from wherever this water is going. My thought is that having documented the leak could help me if I did decide to make a claim.
    Is anyone familiar with anything like this?
     
  2. explorer rob

    explorer rob TGP=Tickoff Great Players

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    Why look for a leak you already have decided to not jackhammer up to fix? Just repipe above slab. A lot of school gyms here in Los Angeles had gal pipe radiant hot water in the locker room floors. They all rusted out and were abandoned in place. No structural damage at all. Use another source of heat and forget the floor radiant heat.
     
  3. leftybill

    leftybill Supporting Member

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    What if the leak is coming from a fixable source? My other concern is that what if I develop other problems in time, from this leak.
     
  4. skydog

    skydog Supporting Member

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    Pex is becoming more common as it doesn't involve soldering. The problem with simply fixing the leak, is what if this Section is representative of the entire system? Please follow up as you learn more. I have a boiler/slab and worry about this too.
     
  5. korby

    korby Member

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    If you had a hot water leak you would feel it with your bare feet and it would buckle your wood floor .
     
  6. saltydogg

    saltydogg Rock & Roll Enthusiast Gold Supporting Member

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    It sounds like your radiant heat has reached it useful life-span. Copper piping in a concrete slab is not ideal, because the lime in the concrete eats through the copper.

    Easier said than done, but I'd say abandon the radiant heat and install hot-water baseboard at this stage.
     
    Kyle B and Rimbaud like this.
  7. VCuomo

    VCuomo Member

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    The hot spot you felt with your bare feet in the kitchen is probably one leak, but if there's one there may very well be more and/or other places in your slab pipes that will start leaking over time. Ask me how I know... :(

    Have your hot water piping re-routed above-ground, you may have to repair/resurface drywall but you'll never have to worry about tearing up your slabs or wood flooring. And AFAIK, PEX is an excellent alternative to copper pipes (it's probably what your radiant heat tubing is made from). PEX is less expensive than copper, and you don't have to worry about burst pipes if water freezes in PEX (or so I'm told).

    When I had mine done 20 years ago PEX wasn't common out here, so I used copper; but if I were to do it again today ( :eek: ), I'd go with PEX.
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2016
  8. Rimbaud

    Rimbaud Tarnished Silver Gold Supporting Member

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    this...Levittown Pa. originally had radiant heat in its original build...it was great heat while it lasted...but just about every house now has baseboard...
    no need to jackhammer the floor.
     
  9. leftybill

    leftybill Supporting Member

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    No, I will not go the jackhammer route for obvious reasons, but the thing is, this leak is coming from the hot water line. I am thinking if I had to run lines for hot water, maybe I should i consider new lines for heat in the process.
    The radiant is great heat, BTW. I will keep it as long as I can.
     
  10. saltydogg

    saltydogg Rock & Roll Enthusiast Gold Supporting Member

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    If your boiler (I think you mentioned the hot water pipe was coming from the boiler) and domestic water-heater are upstairs, I'm not sure why they'd run the domestic hot and cold piping in the concrete slab? Wouldn't the hot and cold water piping be coming down from above?

    If you go to baseboard heat, and because you live in PA, you might have to jackhammer the slab in front of any exterior doors (to continue the heat-loop). It's either that, or you put the pipe in the outside-wall (and go up and around the door), which is generally not recommended in the Northeast.
     
  11. saltydogg

    saltydogg Rock & Roll Enthusiast Gold Supporting Member

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    One more thought; the best way to determine whether it's the domestic hot water or the radiant heat, would be be to apply a pneumatic pressure-test to the heating system, which is simply hooking a pressure gauge (20psi max) up to your boiler and pumping 20psi of air into your heating system. If the pressure in the gauge continues to drop, the culprit is the radiant.

    Of course you can do the same test on the domestic piping also. You may be able to put the gauge on a hosebibb (spigot) and pump the air from there.
     
  12. MoPho

    MoPho Pho Shizzle

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    I had the same problem. I woke up in the middle of the night and walked in the den where there was warm/hot water coming out of a light socket in the slab. Shut off water and dried up before it buckled the hardwoods. The plumber rerouted the line through the attic with PEX and it worked like a charm. All interior walls so no worries about freezing. Definitely cheaper than I was expecting. Dogged a bullet.
     

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