A leaky or rusted subterranean PVC pipe is a sure symptom of a severe issue with your home’s plumbing system. No matter what kind of water pipe it is, it needs to be fixed to avoid bad effects on health and the environment.
Luckily, plumbers with a lot of experience can fix the pipe without having to dig up your whole yard. Read on to find out more, and then call one of the skilled plumbers near your area to set up pipelining services.
How to Fix a Broken PVC Pipe Below Ground
The plumbers gave two ideas for how to fix the leak. There are several options for repiping the distance from my house to my meter, including dragging both the old and new pipes through the ground using a cable tied to one end.
This would require less digging and less work, but since copper is expensive, so would this solution. I chose the second option, which was to dig down to the pipe where the leak was and replace a small section.
High-density polyethylene (HDPE) pipe is less expensive than copper, so it may be used instead of copper in newer buildings.
A copper water pipe should last between 50 and 60 years.
1. Mark all utility lines that are buried.
When I looked at my yard more closely, the mud made it pretty clear where the leak was, but before the plumbers could fix it, they had to find all the underground lines. Before digging in Maryland, we called her “Miss Utility.” After putting in an Excavation Notice for Emergency Excavation, underground gas, electricity, and communication lines were found in just a few hours.
2. Turn off the water at the street’s main.
First, they had to stop the flow of water at the meter on the sidewalk. In this picture, you can see that the leak has completely covered the meter. From how quickly the meter was moving, it was clear that the leak was big.
3. Dig down to the leak by hand.
Unfortunately, the power, water, and phone lines all come into my house around the same spot (where the leak is), so they had to dig very slowly and carefully to avoid breaking anything.
You may frequently find phone and cable wires within 24 inches of the surface. Most water supply lines are buried 36–42 inches deep, or deeper if you live in a very cold area.
When you dig, move your shovel along the buried line, not across it, until the whole thing is exposed. You’re much less likely to hurt someone by accident. It should go without saying that you should never dig with a machine near underground utilities.
They eventually found black power lines, so they dug around them to give them enough space.
4. Figure out where the leak is.
The plumbers would briefly turn on the water supply to help them figure out where the leak was.
The water line was finally found inside a PVC sleeve. Water supply lines normally travel through brief sections of PVC as they pass through the foundation, but it was strange to see the sleeve stretched around 7 feet away from the home. When the water was turned back on, it was discovered that the leak was somewhere inside this PVC sleeve.
In the late 1980s, builders often used polybutylene for water pipes, which is not the case in this house. Someone once called this material “the pipe of the future” because it was cheap, flexible, and easy to work with. Unfortunately, polybutylene turned out to have a short life span (15 years). If a polybutylene pipe has broken, you can fix it by running a copper pipe through it.
If your house was built in the 1980s and you find a leak in an underground pipe that looks like PVC, you should be aware that this could happen.
5. Cut the old pipe and dispose of it. Put the new pipe in place.
Because the tree was so close to the house, they decided it would be best to replace an 8-foot section that went all the way into the house. They cut the pipe right before the PVC sleeve, and we went inside to cut the old pipe and take it out.
Even after several tries, the workers couldn’t get another piece of copper tubing to pass through. They put a cable through the PVC sleeve to feed the new line. The idea was to attach the cable to a copper pipe that was softer and more flexible, and then pull it through.
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When everything was ready, the crew started to pull the pipe through, and it moved the PVC sleeve out of place. If you look closely at the picture below, you can see that the PVC has a sharp bend in it. The plumbers don’t know how that happened, but it’s clear that’s why they couldn’t push the new pipe through by hand.