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Is Your Watermain Leaking? This Is Likely Why…

October 24, 2019

 

We have lots of great blogs about water main leaks with great information. I have posted a few at the bottom of this blog for your convenience.

This blog in particular will discuss the main causes of watermain leaks and remedies, which will depend on your personal circumstances.

PIPE MATERIAL AND INSTALLATION METHIODS

Depending on where you are based in New Zealand and how old your property is, your watermain pipe type and material will vary.

If you are based in Auckland for example, you will come across various pipe types including:

  • Polyethylene Pipe also called PE (more common on new housing or new watermain replacement jobs)
  • Cross-Linked Polyethylene Pipe also called PEX Pipe (Not suitable for watermain use due to the fittings not being dezincification resistant i.e. DR and expensive)
  • Copper piping (found in older homes)
  • Galvanised piping (found in older homes)
  • Alternative pipe systems such as PVC pressure pipe, PP-R piping systems etc. for higher demand or commercial applications
  • Imported pipe systems which don’t comply with NZ standards e.g. low density black alkathene pipe not designed for high pressure.

WHY DO WATERMAINS LEAK?

For the sake of simplicity, the information within this blog is solely around residential applications. Commercial environments that experience watermain faults and/or damage could have a completely different range or reasons and causes which I will exclude in the information provided. If you have a commercial watermain problem, please give Euro Plumbing a call and they can provide professional means of investigation and tailored solutions.

In residential applications there are a multitude of reasons as to why your watermain has burst or failed. I will try to cover them all to help you assess your circumstances and make an educated decision before repairing and/or replacing your watermain.

  1. Bad Workmanship will affect any property, regardless of age. If the plumber (assuming it was a plumber) installed the wrong type of watermain or installed it incorrectly, e.g. the pipe was buried with rubble or rocks which may damage the pipe instantly or over time.
  2. Unsuitable Pipe closely relates to bad workmanship. There is no excuse as to why someone would install the wrong pipe other than the belief of possible “savings”, not being educated in the work or laziness e.g.: I will just use what I have on my van and “she’ll be right”. Remember…
    Not all pipe can be buried.
    Not all pipe can handle the same pressure.
    Not all pipe is UV rated (entry and exit points).
    Not all pipe can handle dissimilar metals.
  3. Ground Movement is a watermain killer. This affects new as much as old homes. If you are building new, much of the environment will still be settling down over time and if your new watermain is within the settlement area then your watermain will also move as much as the ground. Even if the right pipe is installed which can stretch up to twice its length, it’s only as strong as its weakest point which is the joiner. It doesn’t take much for it to slip out and it’s not convenient when that happens underneath your concrete driveway. Similarly, old homes also have ground movement especially when going from winter into summer and ground contraction takes place. We have seen watermains stretch up to 3 meters in such instances. This will depend on your ground percolation and contour levels.
  4. Steel and Copper does not stretch, so if you are experiencing severe ground movement a watermain leak is imminent. Steel and copper watermains are typically found on older style homes. The most common reason for these to fail is electrolysis and breakdown of the watermain material over time. Galvanised pipes are mostly affected. They need to connect to a water meter which has a brass body and/or often connect under or inside the home onto copper. Most technicians ignore separation of metals and as the years pass this breakdown creates weak points in the system which in return eventually result in the watermain leaking.

Repair VS Replacement
When there is a leak, we panic. All that water is going to cost so much! DON’T PANIC. In Auckland for example, Watercare care. In most cases they will compensate you for the losses. We have provided more information on this below.

The Question Remains What To Do When this Affects You?

In some cases, it’s obvious because you can see a wet patch but often it’s not that straight forward. Challenges such as concrete and very long runs make it difficult to spot the exact location.

When facing these challenges, you need to get a professional in to do one of the following:

  1. Quote to repair which involves finding the leak first
  2. Quote for leak detection. sound detection. (typically this service will cost close to $500 and there is no guarantee that the marked location is in fact the location of the leak)
  3. Quote to replace the watermain. (This will typically be the case if you have had problems in the past)

If you have experienced leaks in the past then you may want to weigh up whether to continue investing more money into a watermain that should be replaced. The same goes for watermains made of steel and copper.

Typically when steel watermains are fixed in spot they shortly thereafter fail in another.

DOWNSTREAM PROBLEMS WITH WATERMAINS

When a watermain bursts several things happen.

  1. You lose water
  2. The break will introduce debris into the line

Once a watermain bursts or cracks, when you run a bath or shower negative pressure is created and surrounding environments are sucked into the line, making their way into your plumbing system affecting toilets, taps and valves in around your water system such as your hot water cylinder.

If you want to avoid damage downstream, we highly recommend you action any leaks asap.

Euro Plumbing provide free quotes and have specialist systems to identify leaks at a very low rate keeping your initial costs down while you decide which solution works best for you.

Give us a call on 0800 TEAM EURO for more information.

REALTED LINKS

How much do watermain repairs cost?

Watercare will refund watermain leak usage

Directional drilling services

For finance and payment options

Certifications

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