What happens if you have a plumbing leak in a slab foundation

IMG_0458So I woke one morning and noticed while I was in the restroom that I heard water running. I checked all my faucets but none were running.  There were no leaks to be found anywhere inside or outside the house yet the flow indicator on the meter was spinning wildly.

Nooooooo!   My worst plumbing fears have come to reality.

It was Saturday so I called three plumbers.  One called me back.  (The others called Monday but they were too late.)

After a little looking around it was obvious that my diagnosis was correct.

A little more testing indicated that the leak was the supply to the main distribution manifold behind the washing machine.   I expected the work to include jack hammering the foundation and causing major damage at major expense.  I was glad to hear that the fix, which I had not considered, was not all that bad.  A little more testing indicated that the leak was the supply to the main distribution manifold behind the washing machine.

There was no way to find the pipe even in the yard because digging through rocks is just plain impossible.  The plan was to rent a trencher, cut the pipe at the meter and run a new PEX pipe up to the house, into the garage wall, up into the garage attic, across to the main house and down into the laundry room to tie into the manifold effectively bypassing the under-slab pipe.

As I suspected, even using a trenching machine we couldn’t dig any deeper than 6 inches so that would have to do.  A whole day of trenching later and we had a shallow cut for the supply.

I wasn’t satisfied with the blue plastic pipe going from the ground up and into the garage wall so they did a short transition to copper for better durability on an exposed pipe.  It seldom freezes in San Antonio so that shouldn’t be an issue anyway.  I went up into the garage attic and drilled a hole in the top of the wall and help run the pipe.

We had to cut the drywall in multiple places to get the not so flexible pipe to make the 90 degree bends.  I’ll fix those later myself.

They capped off the old pipe and installed an adapter to join the PEX to the existing copper pipe.

We turned on the water.  Everything worked and the leak was gone.  The cost of this project was $3,600.  I’m hoping he gave me a discount for the hours of labor I provided.  He also said if I had hired a big plumbing company it could easily have cost $6,000 or more.  Always go with the little guy first.  They work harder and care more.

My house insurance will pay for everything over $1500 so my out of pocket expense is only $1500.

Later… Insurance doesn’t seem to cover catastrophic plumbing repair.  I had to pay the whole $3600 myself.  Bastards.  What’s the point in having house insurance?  I’m not sure I’ll have anything more than Fire and Hurricane/tornado coverage on my new house.  I fix things myself and my crap isn’t worth anything so I’m wasting money on insurance.



The Biggest Leak


I woke up last Saturday and sat on the toilet for my morning constitutional when I heard water running.  Why is water running?

I went out to look at the meter and the little flow indicator was turning rather quickly.  I first checked my sprinkler system since it had sprung a spontaneous leak in the past.  It was fine.  I checked all faucets inside and outside the house.  Dry.  That’s really bad!  It is likely under the slab foundation which is beyond my DIY abilities.  I hate to not be able to fix something.

I posted a, “Is there a plumber in the house?” question on Facebook and got a few recommendations.   I called one guy and he came to take a look.  He got in touch with another guy who came out today which was four days later.  I had already tracked down a likely location.  We took a hatch cover off the wall behind the washing machine where the noise was loudest.   We found the main manifold for the house.  That’s good.

He’s going to come back in a few days and will have to cut the manifold and see if we can isolate the branch with the leak.  If I’m lucky, it will be AFTER the manifold and not the main supply line in the slab.  If I am extra lucky, it will be the branch that goes to the outside faucet on just the other side of the opposite wall of the washroom.

If that turns out to be the case, we can just run a PEX line from the manifold through the ceiling and down the other wall without having to tear up the slab or much of the drywall.  That would be excellent.  Relatively.

In the meantime I welded together a special wrench-tool so I can easily turn the main water supply on and off.  I only need it to be on for a few minutes each day for showering, washing dishes, watering plants etc.  Other than that I keep it turned off to avoid any unnecessary damage to the foundation or whatever.  Luckily I don’t have a wife to complain.  I’ll manage through the situation.  As long as it’s not the electricity.  You simply cannot live without air conditioning August in Texas.

Wish me luck!  Think lucky plumbing thoughts.


Short Timer Syndrome

stsIt may be that Short Timer Syndrome is kicking in.  I’m 5 months away from leaving my job for a two year house-building sabbatical.  If all goes well and it looks like it will, my time here is shortening.  Wooooo!   My stress level has already reduced significantly and I feel so much better about life in general.  My job motivation level is low but I don’t really care much.

My plan is to hang through at work until December and give my notice after I get my annual bonus.  By that time I should have the foundation completed and framing started.  This will encourage me to want to get the hell out of work and build full time.  Saying goodbye will not be difficult at all.

My life-plan is finally in progress.  Yee Haw!


Providence strikes again – Paint Sprayer Discount

pntspryrI’m constantly amazed how often the things I need come to me free or cheap when the time is right.

All you have to do is have patience and wait.  They say good things come to those who wait.  I think it is totally true.


sdngI put off starting a big project of replacing the siding on the front of my house for so many years.  It was starting to rot where the water splashes on it from the porch roof.  It needed to be done before I go to sell the house and time is getting short so I decided to get it done.

I got the bright idea to buy a paint sprayer.  I could totally do this with a brush but next year when I’m building my new house, I’ll need a sprayer anyway.  The best thing I could find would be a good looking Graco sprayer from Home Depot for $260.  Fine.  Totally worth it.

Today I gen an email from Harbor Freight with a coupon to buy one almost exactly the same for only $169.  Dude!  Love it!  The reviews are good and I’ve never had any problems with HF stuff.  It even uses the Graco sprayer tip and parts.   I’m going to pick it up this week.  Noice!


Land Clearing – On the Other Side

Today I was scheduled to meet with the man who is going to use the big equipment to clear out the brush on my new property.   He cancelled because it was supposed to be rainy.

Rather than cancel my scheduled day off, I decided to keep it.  It has been a long time since I’ve had a vacation day.

Since it was cloudy and sprinkley, I decided it was a perfect day to be outside since the relentless sun was taking a break.   I loaded up my car and headed out there.

My fist stop was at the County offices where I asked again to make sure that I correctly understood that there were no building codes or permits required to build a house except for a driveway permit and a septic tank permit.  I already had the driveway permit so they gave me the paperwork for the septic.  This is good!

I headed out to the property where I was able to park on the driveway entrance since it now exists.  First time parking off the street!

I first trimmed a few bushes right at the fence entrance area to make it more open.  Nice!

My mission today was to use my brush cutter blade on the weed-eater to smooth down all the tiny tree trunks to avoid tire damage and allow me to use a mower to keep the weeds at bay.

I doused myself liberally with bug spray to ward off the little Red-bug beasts.  These no-see-um’s will get your ankles and waist area and itch for two weeks or more.  They are much like mosquito bites.  Perhaps worse.  Want to avoid that.

Fortunately, the hot summer sun had baked the weeds to death so they hadn’t grown much since my last visit.  I walked around and had at all the stumps that I could find until the ground was smooth and tire-safe.   I used my regular weed-eater with a heavy duty tip to cut down the rest of the weeds in the area.

Snake!!!  I cut off his head with the machine.  First snake!  Scary!  Need to be careful!   Sorry Snakey but, No Snakes!   I’ll have to put up a sign.

After a few hours of work I was satisfied with the smoothness of the shave so I brought my car all the way in.  YAY!  Not having driven on this dirt before I was worried about sinking in and getting stuck but it wasn’t a problem even with the moisture.  It wasn’t muddy per se.  The dirt is a bit sandy so I don’t think “Mud” will ever be an issue.  Once it packs down it will be even more drive-able.

I’m satisfied for now.  We are rescheduled for next week for the guy to come clear the rest.


RV Starter not working – FIXED!

On months where I don’t use my RV I try to go to the storage lot and start it up to let it run for a few minutes.  It’s good to keep the parts moving and the juices flowing.  During the summer months it’s far too hot to be out in the world so it may sit for 5-7 months at a time.  You scoff but when it is 102 degrees outside, it’s best to stay home.

A few weeks ago I tried to start it up and all I got was a click.  Great!  The battery is both new and connected to a solar charging system but it is my first suspect.  I took it out and brought it home to charge it.  As soon as I connected it to the charger, the blinking light indicated that the battery was fully charged.  Great!  It must be the starter.

I searched starters for a 1982 Ford E350 engine and they are fairly cheap.  $45-100.  Wow!  Gotta love old American stuff.  I still wasn’t 100% sure though.  More testing would be required.

A few weeks passed until I had some time to go back.  I took the battery and some tools out to the storage yard and reconnected the battery.  Same result.  Just clicks.  It sure SOUNDS like low voltage but the battery is fine.  It could be the starter.  I went underneath the RV and rapped on the starter with a wrench.  Sometimes that loosens it up if it is stuck.   Still the same result. My instincts tell me it is still an electrical problem due to the weak clicking sounds.

 I noticed a little corrosion between the wire and the battery terminal clamp.  It didn’t look bad but it could be an issue.  Removed the wire from the clamp and brushed away the corrosion before replacing the wire.  I was glad I had all the tools I need.  I keep a good set of tools in the RV’s toolbox for emergency repairs.  I highly recommend you do the same.

I went back into the cab and turned the key fully expecting the same result.

The starter powerfully sprang to life and the engine started right up.

Yeee HAW!  Damn I’m good!

I wouldn’t have minded replacing the starter because it was cheap and easy to access but not having to do it is even better.

I think I’ll get myself some conductive grease to protect the connection.

Driveway Culvert Done!!

It was a cloudy Sunday morning so I decided I would try to beat the sun and get some work done.  I hit the road and headed out to my property to see if I could get some of the gravel spread over the new culvert pipe that was delivered yesterday.  Even though the sun was threatening to come out from behind the thinning clouds I set to work.

I probably spent about an hour shoveling and raking while taking a lot of breaks.  The humidity was 88% so your sweat really doesn’t evaporate.  I kept stopping to towel off and drink some cold ice tea.   I got quite a bit done before I admitted defeat for the day.  I’m going to be sore tomorrow.

Before leaving I decided to walk into the property and rest under a shady oak tree.  I took off all my clothes and hung my sweat-soaked underwear on a tree limb to dry a bit while appreciating the breeze.  After a few minutes I heard some heavy equipment coming down the street.  I had a good feeling so I got dressed and headed out to the road.

A neighbor ad seen me toiling and came to my rescue.  Alfred, my next-door neighbor who owns 15 acres, made short work of smoothing out the pile with his Kubota tractor.

Alfred is a really nice guy.  We talked for a little while before he had to go pick up his wife from Church.  I gave him some money because he saved me so much time and work.  It was really nice to meet him.  The people I’ve met out here are the best people ever.  I feel more and more like I belong here and have been totally out of place living in the city for 50 years.  I knew this but was not in any position to do anything about it until now.

The culvert and driveway entrance are now done.  I can cross that off my list and stop thinking bout it.  Now I can at least drive onto the property.  It’s a relief to finally get it taken care of.

My next step will be to have someone come in and clear the rest of the land.  I found a guy who will do it for around $1400.  All the saplings will be shredded and I won’t even have to gather and burn them.  I think I will have that done next month.  I’m already impressed with what I’ve gotten accomplished.  I wish I had more time and cooler weather.  Stupid sun!