Water line leak

Our water lines, galvanized steel, I think, are about 50 years old, and we just had our first leak. A plumber looked at it and said the line is too rotten to be able to repair. He says we need to start digging the place up to find either some still-solid pipe or some PVC to tap into. Don’t have a map of the water lines. Any thoughts on how we might proceed? Any way of repairing old pipe like this? One plumber told me the pipe only needs to be about 12" deep. Is running a new line easy enough to do myself with some workers? The plumber estimated about $4k to get it done.Thoughts?thanks-dave

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Get a new plumber. You need three bids – although the next plumber is just going to fix it and have no issue with it, so don’t even tell them there’s a problem other than a leak to fix. Tell them you had your maintenance man dig the hole, so they don’t even know another plumber has been there.In 20 years, we have only replaced one water system out of around 200 parks. Doubt that you’re luck will be any different.Plumbers – very frequently – are complete con men.Get a second opinion fast.

Dave, I completely agree with Frank:'Get a second opinion fast.'We have a MHP with a menagerie of water lines.We have water leaks occasionally.  The Plumber has always been able to repair them.We have never paid $4 K to repair a leak.  They run around $100 to $200 for the repairs.We are in the process of getting quotes for replacing the lines on our Master Meter Water.One of the Contractors made a comment that the water lines are just a glorified lawn irrigation system.  I thought that was an interesting comment.We wish you the best.  

BTW, another idea may be finding a maintenance man (retired plumber) inside the park who knows how to fix the leaks and not patch the leaks. That will save you a ton of money for future maintenance and this leak.

If you go that route, make sure that there is no law in your area against a non-licensed plumber fixing water leaks. In some cities, that’s illegal.

12" deep?, you must be pretty far south.  Dig it up and get a repair clamp from a GOOD plumbing supply house.  These typically aren’t available at places like, Home Depot, Lowe’s, or Menards.  Another option is to dig each way from the leak several feet, locate some decent pipe to work with, cut a section out and replace a that section of the pipe.  Use repair couplings at each end to adapt from the old pipe to the new.

Thanks Frank and all.Dale, that’s where my plumber says there’s a problem. The area of pipe we exposed was too bad to repair. We know we need to dig more to find some better pipe, but the concern is that the rest will be just as bad as what we have exposed, and unrepairable. I’ve got my usual handyman on the case now, and I trust him not to take advantage. He’s already got a plan, and I don’t think it’ll be anywhere near $4k.thanks all 

Let me reply to the part of this that is not addressed. Is there a long term solution to galvanized lines. The answer is- yes. There is a process used in old buildings where the lines are sealed on the inside by coating them with some sort of plastic that is blown through the lines. This coats the inside and stops the metallic breakdown. I see no reason this process would not work in a MHP where the lines are showing their age. I have this same issue in a park I own. We dig down to the line and expose a large section of the pipe. I have clamps if needed, and use sump pumps to keep the water out of the hole. Then we call in a local guy that works on wells, and he has the equipment to splice in line. Our cost to him is a few hundred each trip. When he dug the lines for us the bill was closer to 800 or 1000. Our lines are deep- 6 foot- and we have lots of trees. So we dig around and through roots all the time. The previous process is called epoxy lining- here is a general link- I do not know the company. http://www.nuflowtech.com/products/epoxylining.aspx

It will be helpful if anyone can provide their feedback and their effectiveness on the galvanized pipes?

The company is Nu Flow and their phone number is (800) 834-9597. I have never used them, but the science is very interesting and there is no question that this should be significantly cheaper than line replacement. I know that our pipebursting bid on a sewer line was 70% lower than replacement, so Im sure this offers similar benefits.

You could pay a locate person to map out the water lines for you after the fact. It is invaluable to have it mapped out. Private locates for water/septic can be very expensive (I was quoted 5k+) so being the one-park-wonder I picked up the tools and learned how to use them. https://www.prototek.net/Ardy.phphttp://www.greenlee.com/products/TRACKER-11%2540dCABLE-LOCATOR-(501).html?product_id=15377You can try charging the water line with the greenlee inductive clamp and then toning it out with the wand.

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Well I charge a lot for my construction advice, it’s what I do for a living.  I’m pretty skeptical as to the effectiveness of this epoxy system.  Also, if you truly have galvanized pipes, they are at or near the end of their useful life span - period.  Also, consider that the steel pipes are corroding from both sides since they’re buried.  The epoxy, if it worked at all, would only effect corrosion from the inside, not the outside.Also, remember that the inside of the galvanized pipes are probably AT LEAST 50% filled with sediment.

I called NuFlow and they gave me a local plumber info. I have already called 3 times and the plumber or his company were NOT helpful at all. Any luck with NuFlow from anyone else?

Any news on Nu Flow or this technology? Frank, I think you’re using this technology much more frequently now, correct? Any rule of thumb on pricing? Looking at a 50s park that has either main line or service line leaks (potentially both). Only 50% occupancy high probability some issues in unoccupied portion of park. All meters relatively new and working well. Thanks!

Yes, I had a discussion with the NuFlow and their estimate was around $500K. Whereas a local plumber gave us a $200K estimate to replace the water lines. So NuFlow turned out to be much more expensive in this case.

We’ve never used NuFlow, but I did go over with them a random sample of what it would cost vs. re-piping a park, and it was substantially less. There’s no way it would be 2.5 times greater than a full re-piping, Either the estimator was crazy, or they just didn’t want the business.

I may have been confusing nuflow with whatever the latest and most effective way to inexpensively patch leaks is (not replace entire system…). I thought it was some sort of spray pvc but perhaps I’m mistaken. What is typically used and is there any rule of thumb on cost?

I’m not so sure about that. A few months ago I inspected a house where one of the epoxy companies charged an 80 year old widow fully 3 times what it would have cost to completely re-pipe her house with PEX. I couldn’t believe it so I asked to see the receipt, and yep, they stole her blind! I can’t remember the exact figure but it was around $15,000 to blow that epoxy crap through her pipes.

Re-pipes down here are very common. Between the polybutylene and thin walled copper that our corrosive water eats through eventually (our water is very alkaline). It’s cheap to replace pipes down here because there is no freeze to worry about, so all of the pipes can be just routed through the attic, no frost protection needed.

Most pipe replacements run in the $2,500 - $3,000 range for a standard 3/2 ranch. Her home was larger, but it should have been a max of $5,000.

Not to mention there is NO WAY they can guarantee 100% coverage.

Other concerns are as I previously stated. 1. Buried galvanized pipes corrode from the inside and outside, the epoxy crap only protects (if at all) from the inside. 2. 50 year old galvanized pipes will be about half the original diameter internally due to years of rust scale buildup. Yes, I know they blow the pipes out with sand first, but there is NO WAY they’re going to get it all. In fact, when I turned on the master garden tub (does anyone actually ever use those anymore?) it immediately clogged the aerator. I removed it and opened up the valves, a ton of sand and little chunks of epoxy shot out.

So in case you haven’t guessed, I’m not exactly a believer in the stuff.

Hi @frankrolfe

The estimator was the same individual who presented in the 2015 affordable summit.

Maybe they didn’t want the business or were not in the proximity.