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Slab leak - Anyone used Curaflo or DuraFlow in Bay Area?

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Joined: Jun 18 2003

Hello all.

After coming back from a two week vacation, we were hearing a slight rushing sound in our walls between our bathrooms. A plumber has told us that we have a leak. :( Not located yet, but most likely in the slab. We don't see any evidence of water, and water pressure hasn't declined since we moved in a year ago, just the noise. But apparently it might be a small leak in the slab that's reverberating through the pipes. We plan to have the leak located for $270, anyone know of a cheaper leak location service in Concord?

Anyway, the plumber has recommended a complete repiping of the house over the roof, because he said more leaks are inevitable after this first one. His estimate was $4500 just for the repiping and repairing to drywall. We'll probably have to redo tiles and paint in bathrooms. So it's gonna be more than the 4500.

After reading the forums, I came across this thread (Sealing Copper piping interior) on in-place pipe restoration. It looks like people have used Ace Duraflo in Southern CA. After doing some research on the web, i've come across two vendors that do interior repiping in the bay area. An Ace Duraflo franchisee and another called Curaflo. They both appear to be using the same process. Has anyone in the bay area had experience with either of these vendors or any other vendor that does in-place pipe restoration?

Thanks

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Joined: Mar 22 2003

I am not familiar with those vendors, but we faced the same problem about 2 years ago. We developed a domestic hot water leak and the way we found out was by noticing the same hissing sound. We called our radiant heat guy, who came out and located it within 10 minutes.

Companies that specialize in working with hydronic radiant heat (there are several of them that advertise on this site) may be a better bet for you than a plumber, just because, in my experience, they seem to be the professionals with the most experience in doing this -- for them it is just like working on your radient system -- or very similar anyway--so they end up doing a lot of these types of jobs.

We ended up re-routing the pipes for the effected area (about 50% of total hot water pipes) over the roof, but our guy went ahead and laid all the pipe necessary to do the rest of the house when the time comes. I think the bill was in the $3K range, but again, this was for doing about half of the area, but setting it up for the rest. OUr house is a 1,536 ft^2 courtyard model.

Post back if you have any other questions.

Cathye

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Joined: Jun 18 2003

Thanks for the reply. When your plumber rerouted your plumbing to your roof, how did it affect your plumbing? Was your hot water colder in the winter and cold water hot in the summer? We have a tar and gravel roof, and it gets hot up there in the summer. Did you have your roof redone when you changed your plumbing? How will having the pipes on the roof affect our ability to have a new roof installed later on?

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Joined: Mar 20 2003

Nancy425: there has been past discussion regarding the technology you mention, but nobody has come back to this board to discuss success stories. Fixing leaks isn't a big deal. There are several qualified companies in your area who can locate and fix the leak. I can't imagine attempting to coat the inside of my copper pipes and still maintain good flow. I would only consider such a product as a last result before total system failure, not for one leak. Look for someone with years of trusted Eichler experience to help you. I would start with the service partners on this web site. If that doesn't work for you, look in your yellow pages under heating/plumbing, keeping an eye out for radiant panel repair and years in business.

With your tar and gravel roof, consider a white colored rock. It will help with reflectivity, cooling your interior. I like tar and gravel, especially if your roof is pitched and you can see it! If maintained properly, it can last for ever! I see 40-50 year-old homes all the time with tar and gravel roofs. What other roof has held up that long? They only have problems when the tar is exposed to the sun. Best of all, you can't beat it for price and looks.

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Joined: Jun 18 2003

Well, we just had the leak detection people come in and apparently the leak is under the slab in the cold water section between the toilet and our vanity sink. So that's good news. We can just cap the cold water pipe daisychained from the cold water intake to the toilet and leading to the sink and just run some pipe in the wall instead of underground. Just a coulple of cuts in the drywall and that's it. Definitely a relief and much cheaper than cutting through the slab.

But I figured I should inform everyone here about the in-place pipe restoration I asked about. Apparently there isn't a vendor who does this that's in the Bay Area. One was in San Luis Obispo and the other was in Stockton. So pretty much you would pay for the whole day for these guys, even if their in your house for a couple of hours due to travel time. Unfortunately, the estimate I received was almost double what the plumber estimated for a whole house repipe over the roof. Granted that didn't include the repairs to be made to the walls and tile after the repiping was completed. But even taking all that into account, repiping would have been cheaper.

The interior pipe restoration estimates are based on how many water outlets you have in your house (hose bibs, hot water and cold water outlets). A typical bathroom would be 5 outlets - hot water and cold water for sink, hot water and cold water for shower, cold water for toilet. You just count those up and they generate an estimate. The coating only adds 5 to 10 millimeters (mm) to your pipe interior. So it wouldn't affect water flow much, if at all.

Hope everyone finds this info helpful.

Thanks

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Joined: Mar 20 2003

I had a leak in the hot water pipe and we repaired it. I did not reroute the pipes over the roof but instead protected the pipes from further corrosion by installing a cathodic protection (CP) system. You can read the following past post for more information:

http://www.eichlernetwork.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=219&highlight=catho...

A CP company in San Leandro, CA installed the system. If you want the contact information you can write me at lynndrake2004ATyahooDOTcom.

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Joined: Mar 22 2003

"When your plumber rerouted your plumbing to your roof, how did it affect your plumbing? Was your hot water colder in the winter and cold water hot in the summer? We have a tar and gravel roof, and it gets hot up there in the summer. Did you have your roof redone when you changed your plumbing? How will having the pipes on the roof affect our ability to have a new roof installed later on?"

Hi Nancy:

It affected our cold water just as you imagine. In extreme summer heat, I can turn on the cold water and have instant hot-temporarily (rather than the hot water taking the 2-3 minutes to get hot that it usually does). In the winter the cold is really cold. Keep in mind that both are temporary and last only as long as it takes for the water to make one complete loop through the system.

The big problem with failing to re-route when you develop your first leak is that if there is one, there will be more, and more, and more. We thought long and hard about it, as our radient heat guy was perfectly willing to do whatever we wanted: jackhammer up our new tile and fix the leak, or re-route. We decided to re-route, since we knew it was only a matter of time (and not knowing whether the time would be days, weeks, months, or years) before a new leak would develop. They say that domestic cold water leaks are common in Willow Glen and the theory is that it has something to do with the soil composition and the reaction with the metal used in the pipes.

We kept our existing foam roof, and our installer (VERY experienced) went over the roof, elevating the pipes off the roof and coating them with some insulating material. BTW, when we had our original foam roof installed, there were already lots of pipes up there from our baseboard heating system which the previous homeowner had installed. To re-roof, we had to have the radient guy come out and remove the pipes, then put them back after the roofing job. It increased the cost of the job by about $2K+.

Cathye

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Joined: Jul 8 2004

I have had a service person come out to try to find a small leak in our kitchen. Unfortuneately, he couldn't approximate the leak (using all of his location finding gadgets) besides saying it was somewhere in the kitchen and on cold water line (which I already knew). Their advertisements seem to suggest that they can locate any leak, but my experience proves otherwise. No refund or discount was provided, even though requested.

He's stated that due to the laminate floor and vapor barrier, this is preventing him from getting an accurate detection. Is this true? I put in laminate floors to reduce the cost if I ever had to rip it out, but it seems that it may be costing me more by making it more difficult to detect.

His suggestion was to remove the flooring and re-running his tests (this time using an hourly rate instead of a flat fee). He also estimated $17K to run new water lines over the roof, which seems excessive.

Suggestions on what I should do next?

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Joined: Apr 5 2003

If the coating folks are really adding 5-10 mm, that seems like a *big deal*.

If you've got a 3/4" copper pipe for the water supply (and let's assume that's internal diameter, because I can't remember if copper pipe is measured from the inside or outside), that means the diameter is about 19 mm, or a radius of 9.5 mm:

(0.75 inches * (2.54 cm / 1 inch) * (10mm/ 1 cm))

The space for the water would be the area of a section of the pipe. For 19mm, that's about 90 square mm (using pi-r-squared). If you assume the best case -- 5mm of coating added, that means the radius of the pipe drops 2.5 mm from 9.5 mm to 7 mm. The area of pipe cross section drops from 90 mm to 49 mm.

If the coatings really do add 5-10 mm, I suspect they're not appropriate for our small-diameter water lines...

Disclaimer: I'm not a plumber. Heck, I'm not even a real engineer. I'm going on memory that our house is plumbed with 3/4" piping.

Robert

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Joined: Aug 16 2003

I haven't visited this website for quite awhile, but I posted information about epoxy coating the pipes in 2003.

I noted a comment in one of the posts about fixing each individual leak and how easy it is. Each leak repair a few years ago (leak detection expense/repair and covering hole with cement) was about $1,000. This doesn't take into consideration any replacement necessary of flooring materials. I couldn't find anything cheaper, but if this can be done cheaper and people are willing to keep fixing a deteriorating system, more power to them. (I was told my fourth leak might not be able to be repaired because the concrete was overpoured in the spot they thought the leak occurred--front entry by sliding glass door). These pipes are old, and as time goes by, there will be more and more pothole leaks. The crew was very professional, thorough and quickly addressed all of my concerns. The cost at that time was $4700.

I did have a problem (water hammer because the coating did make the pipes slightly thinner), but the company put water hammer preventers inside the house at the valve points, and this appears to have solved the problem. This was a concern to me, but I have had no problems, and it was a far better alternative than tearing up my walls and floors and paying the expense of replacing the upgrades I had put on them. A neighbor who had the rerouting said there is a problem with rerouting because weather will cause cold water to warm and hot water to cool, since the pipes are on the outside of the house.

I've used a relatively new technology and have taken a chance, and after much research, this company was hired by the Biltmore in Los Angeles to coat their pipes instead of putting new ones in. There is also a video clip on the company's website of coverage by ABC in Los Angeles. If you would like some more education regarding this process before making repiping decisions, please email me -- ndobbie@comcast.net. I will give you the name of the company's website. Their site also has links to other information from different sources.

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Joined: Sep 19 2006

Nancy,
Can you email with the plumber and leak service you used in Concord?
I suspect I am having the same problemw as you had. I live in Concord too.My email is siosdiggerAThotmail.com

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