Finally fixed the water main leak

If you’ve been following along, you may recall that we’ve had an extra green swampy patch of grass in our front yard for a while now.

Front lawn

We checked to make sure that it wasn’t a leak in the irrigation system by shutting off water to the sprinklers for a few days. Considering that the swamp was right along a straight line between the water meter at the street and our water main valve on the side of the house, we were pretty sure it was a leak in the water main line. To confirm, we shut off the water main valve on the side of our house for a few hours and checked the water meter to see if it had moved, even though we clearly hadn’t been using any water. Yup.

Since water pressure in the house was still just fine, we ended up putting off fixing this for quite a while. That spot of grass just got to be extra lush and healthy for a few months. But we finally had a free weekend with good weather, so Dave dug a hole:

front yard hole

Well first he dug up clumps of grass and set them to one side in the hopes or replanting them when he was done. Then he made a big pile of dirt.

At first we thought we’d have to shut off the water for the digging part, but even down around the pipe things were manageable, albeit a bit muddy.

Leaking pipe

The hole revealed a join in the PVC pipe that clearly had a slow leak. So we picked up a pipe cutter and a new PVC joint that’s specifically designed as a replacement for this sort of situation, where the two ends to be joined are fixed in place.

cut pipe

Turning off the water at the meter turned out to be a bit of a pain, as apparently you’re supposed to use a specialized wrench/lever thing to do it. Oh and the entire meter was covered in slugs. Gross. Not wanting to buy a large, single-purpose wrench thing, Dave improvised with the tools we had. This didn’t quite work 100%, so there was still a slow drip, not ideal for cementing PVC pieces together.

After consulting the Internet brain trust, Dave stuffed some bread in the pipe to temporarily stop the dripping, then quickly glued everything together. Yup, the Internet said to use bread, so it must be true!

The fix

Actually, our neighbor suggested the same thing the next day as I was reporting our success to him. And then he mentioned that he owned one of those specialized wrench/lever things for turning off the water. *facepalm* I should have known, this is totally the neighbor that has every tool under the sun. Ah well.

We left the hole open over night, and the next day the dirt around the new join was looking nice and dry. So we filled in the hole and placed the grass clods back over top. We’ve been watering the area daily since then, and it looks like the grass is going to survive! I still need to mow the lawn though, so no “after” picture for you.

All in all, this ended up being just a few hours work. I was fully prepared for it to turn into a full weekend event with many, many trips to the hardware store, since that’s how our projects generally pan out. So I was pretty amazed that it ended up being a very manageable project, and we were only without water for maybe an hour. I guess occasionally we can get lucky. 🙂


Posted on July 8, 2013, in outdoors and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Dan Clemmensen

    I think the reason for the specialized tool is that you are supposed to call the water supplier to do this. In most places, they do it for free, and in most places, you are not supposed to do this yourself. However, your aproach worked, so, no harm, no foul.

    • We’re definitely responsible for everything this side of our water meter. It didn’t occur to me to see if they would come and turn the water off at the meter while we did the repairs, but I would imagine that even if they did this for free, we probably wouldn’t have been able to get them to turn it off at 4pm and then back on again at 8pm on a Saturday…

  2. I know this is an old post, but you have no idea how much this has helped me. Thank you so much!

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