Author Topic: Let's talk about water leaks  (Read 261 times)

rcjordan

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Let's talk about water leaks
« on: October 31, 2018, 03:42:53 PM »
We've had some chatter. EG sums it up:

Quote
What are people's big pain points and fears?

To me, one of the most beneficial things home automation can solve is warning of water leaks. There is actually tech now that will automatically shut down the main supply to the house upon leak detection. I know two people who have had significant leaks in their houses. One resulted in $30,000 damage as the leak went a couple days before being noticed. The other resulted in $125,000 in damage - the upper story floors had to be redone and the two lower floors were gutted, down to the studs. Almost everything had to go - flooring, drywall, cabinets, HVAC ducting.

If you want people to hit the Buy button, that's one service I would highlight.

Brad

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Re: Let's talk about water leaks
« Reply #1 on: October 31, 2018, 04:05:11 PM »
Some of the resources listed are on my list to investigate.  This is always a worry.

rcjordan

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Re: Let's talk about water leaks
« Reply #2 on: October 31, 2018, 04:17:41 PM »
In my 58 years of construction & maintenance, the most frequent source of water damage has been HVAC condensate leaks.  Here's some preventative actions I've taken (and this has saved my butt on 3 separate occasions in the 30 yrs since I built the house).

>58
Yes, my old man put me to work as a construction & industrial maintenance gopher at age 10.

This is my 2nd floor HVAC closet. Note the deep pan, it was made to fit the bottom of the entire closet. You cannot see it, but there is a 1.25" floor drain in the middle and that drain is plumbed to the sewer main.

<added>
Note the float switch. It kills the HVAC if water starts to rise.  But, that is just a start. Over the years, I found I needed a failsafe.

« Last Edit: October 31, 2018, 04:21:38 PM by rcjordan »

rcjordan

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Re: Let's talk about water leaks
« Reply #3 on: October 31, 2018, 04:48:07 PM »
>Failsafe

After the system had been in use for a decade, I came home to find 2 inches of water in the pan.  Two things had happened.  #1 the condensate collection tray drain in the coil had plugged with algae --hvac algae not an uncommon problem, particularly in the humid south. #2 Dust, small litter bits from construction had slowly blocked the 1.25" floor drain. 

Four or five years later, algae plugged the .75" condensate line down in the trap.  The 1.25" floor drain caught the overflow but I had no idea how long it had been leaking. 

I decided I needed to install a secondary condensate line that exits above the trap.  AND I wanted it to be obvious when it kicked in. I'd also like a quick way to tell if condensate was flowing. So....

1st pix is condensate drain arrangement showing secondary line exiting at top left. Note clear plastic sight gauges in the lines.

2nd pix is the failsafe port in the outside soffit. Located above & beside the exterior door we use most frequently.

4 years or so later, the failsafe worked as planned. I came home, heard a drip.  Yep, algae again in the trap.

 

rcjordan

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Re: Let's talk about water leaks
« Reply #4 on: October 31, 2018, 05:04:07 PM »
But what about catastrophic pressurized water-pipe failure?  Yep, I had that happen downstairs when a plastic valve under the laundryroom sink failed at midnight when the county purged the water mains in our neighborhood.  A stream of water about the diameter of a pencil flowed (at 40# pressure) all night.

I pulled the the entire polybutylene  system throughout the house and replaced it with cpvc.  I redesigned the piping so that a 1-inch main supplying any & all water in the living space was valved under the kitchen sink.  When we leave for more than a day, we shut off the water. Note that it's a BALL valve --no other type of valve can be trusted to work over the long term. (Gate valves suck!) Besides, the bar-type handle makes for easier positive shut-off.

rcjordan

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Re: Let's talk about water leaks
« Reply #5 on: October 31, 2018, 05:13:37 PM »
Quick sidebar: 

See the note reminding us to empty the icemaker?  Yep, had a leak there once. (Icemaker's *usually* and *frequently* leak at the connection to the water supply. Mine didn't leak there.) I have a large icemaker which stores a drawer-full of ice.  Power failed while we were away, ice in drawer melted and water ran out on kitchen floor. No damage, happened to catch it in time.

Empty & disable your icemakers when going on vacation.
« Last Edit: October 31, 2018, 05:19:15 PM by rcjordan »

rcjordan

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Re: Let's talk about water leaks
« Reply #6 on: October 31, 2018, 05:25:56 PM »
>preventive

See my dishwasher installation with drain pan here:
http://th3core.com/talk/economics-investing/ultra-cheap-computers-and-social-are-going-to-disrupt-appliance-repair/msg44722/#msg44722

Enough about drain pans. Now back to my pontificating on preventing catastrophic pressure leaks.

ukgimp

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Re: Let's talk about water leaks
« Reply #7 on: October 31, 2018, 06:15:26 PM »
We don't seem to get these so frequent issues in the UK. We use water just as much so I'm trying to think why.

Is the qaulity of workmanship for this sort of thing just shitter your end?

Don't get me wrong, we have issues, but they are normally catastrophic. This was near me recently.

https://twitter.com/aly_jones10/status/1021624217400430592

It's gone twice in 25 years. f###ed a few houses up for sure.

 

ergophobe

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Re: Let's talk about water leaks
« Reply #8 on: October 31, 2018, 06:51:51 PM »
In my 58 years of construction & maintenance, the most frequent source of water damage has been HVAC condensate leaks.

Because you have not lived in the frigid north, where frozen pipes are the big problem. This is less of a problem in new construction using PEX, but I've seen a house where the toilets cracked open during a power outage (and pipes burst at 100 locations in the walls). When the power came back on, water poured out everywhere. BTW... the power was out because the reprobate nephew killed the power to disable the burglar alarm so he could steal $350 in cash and cause $30,000 in damage circa 1978.

But what about catastrophic pressurized water-pipe failure?

Pressure reducers are essential here. Our water tank is 600 feet aka 180 meters above us. If the pressure reducer on the main fails, you can blow fixtures easily. Helluva a shower before they blow though.

Other pain points
 - modern flexible sink/toilet hoses are awful. They commonly need replacement.
 - ice makers - that's a worry too. Though of course I have one toopart of me thinks that having water running to a freezer is just plain stupid

Is the qaulity of workmanship for this sort of thing just shitter your end? 

Could be, but could be circumstances. The first instance I mentioned happened when it was -30F that night. Extreme conditions expose minor flaws, like a wall/pipe that is insulated enough so everything works fine at 0F, but not at -30F. Or in RC's case, places with humidity that is off the charts and culture where people run A/C 24/7

That said, there are also places in the US where, during housing booms, everyone with a pickup truck is a contractor and the quality is often appalling. In a mature housing market that churns along steadily, you get lifelong craftsmen. In the boom, those guys are booked up and if you want your house built in the next four years, you drop to the second tier. If you want it this year, you drop to the third tier

Brad

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Re: Let's talk about water leaks
« Reply #9 on: October 31, 2018, 06:56:40 PM »
>issues in the UK

Possible factors:

1. Temperature extremes.  We span a continent it gets cold in some areas and pipes burst, and stuff happens in the South.
2. I think I heard somewhere that our municipal water mains are at a higher pressure here than UK. DOn't know if that is true or is a factor.
3. Crap materials. Guilty.  Old homes had galvanized steel pipes.  Plastic piping has improved but when it first came out some of it was bad.  Our hot water heater tanks are not built like they used to be.  We build mainly with wood, so we don't think about the house being around for 100 years.  In the UK 100 years is just getting broken in.
4. We have "manufactured homes"  what used to be called trailers.  I've seen the cr*p fittings that these things have and it's all non-standard junk.

There is a lot more but I'm getting depressed.

rcjordan

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Re: Let's talk about water leaks
« Reply #10 on: October 31, 2018, 11:13:01 PM »
And. I'd say we run water more places within a residence. EU is more utilitarian. Hell, we have decorative "water features" now -damn waterfalls in the foyer, ponds on the porch. Hot tubs everywhere. 2.5 baths & up.  But again, CONDENSATE from air conditioning is the big one.  Yes, we have -30 places, but everywhere (OK, maybe not Alaska) runs A/C and it sweats profusely.

>100 years

Bingo! Our appliances are largely at fault.  The DIY consumer crap is an accomplice.  See EG's remark s about "modern flexible sink/toilet hoses are awful" --people buy that cheap crap because it looks like it'll do the job and they don't know any better. And it's cheaper/easier than the "old way."  But most of all, everything seems to be built to last about 7 or 8 years. And when this is a water appliance like an icemaker hookup, the 8th year can and does bring catastrophe.


rcjordan

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Re: Let's talk about water leaks
« Reply #11 on: October 31, 2018, 11:27:34 PM »
But EG wants to shut off the water main....

What if I put a $40, 1-inch, normally closed, 24v solenoid in the main powered by a dedicated transformer ($20) and just ran the transformer on a TP-link plug-n-play smartswitch ($40)?  I could rig up an emergency manual override using 2 3-way switches ($5).  Program the smartswitch to be off during sleeping hours. Use the manual switch for forced on or off instead of what the program wants to do. And use the app to kill it from afar.  Since the solenoid is normally closed, if the power fails the water is off.  (I run my water heaters this way now.)



ergophobe

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Re: Let's talk about water leaks
« Reply #12 on: November 01, 2018, 02:26:22 AM »
if the power fails the water is off.

Good in principle, but our power goes out so much that I would hesitate to do this until I get my Powerwall installed ;-)

rcjordan

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Re: Let's talk about water leaks
« Reply #13 on: November 02, 2018, 09:39:35 PM »
>WAF

After intensive, high-level negotiations I have clearance to proceed.  Negotiations were helped by the fact that we've suffered a late-night leak in the past.  She also likes the app with the new thermostats and actually uses that both within the house and when we're away traveling.  I'm not sure I'll pursue it, as I have plenty of projects stacked up, but I'll think about it.

>power

I've come up with an easy manual bypass of the whole rig.  All it takes is one ball valve on a loop around the solenoid.