I have been getting more and more calls about underground leaks both in the dirt outside the house and under slab inside the house. During the last 40 years approximately 500,000 homes and businesses have been built in Henderson and the Las Vegas valley. Houses were, and still are, water piped underground in the dirt before the concrete slab is poured. Up until a few years ago heavy duty, soft copper tubing was used. Copper tubing will last 30 to 40 years underground if properly installed but it will still corrode and spring leaks, especially if the water pressure is much above 60 psi. Many homes have pressure reducing valves that they do not know have stopped working. They only last 10 to fifteen years. 90 percent of the time, when they go bad the pressure goes up to what the street pressure is. House pressure over 80 psi. is deadly, not only for the piping, but fixtures as well.
When an underground or under slab leak appears it means more are to come It also means the plumber must use that dreaded word, a word no homeowner wants to hear, RE-PIPE. Re-pipes cost around $400 per fixture, including dry wall repair. Wirsbo pipe is used, a memory pipe with no metal fittings to corrode. It is run overhead anywhere it can be, usually the attic, thereby bypassing the underground copper piping. In homes they have been using plastic pipe for undergrounds for several years but they still can run copper, there is no law against it. Plastic underground water pipe, wirsbo or heavy duty pvc pipe will last 75 years if properly installed.
I know what you’re thinking. There is that phrase again, “if properly installed”. Yes, unfortunately, with profit margins tight and skilled craftsmen who actually care if they do a good job scarce, the motto was and still is “blow and go”. If the underground waste and water pipes are not back filled with dirt without sharp rocks, problems will arise down the road. A good job is 6 to 8 inches of type 2 gravel or sand on top of the pipes. This adds cost to the job though and plumbers will try to not always do it. The result is very expensive repairs in homes up words of 15 years old.
If one travels to the Inspirada development in southwest Henderson, one will see a good example of mass housing production just like in the past.
Let’s hope the builders and inspectors have learned some lessons from the past and pay close attention to the underground plumbing. They are the hardest repairs to make.
Call Village Plumbing, your plumbing expert in Henderson and Las Vegas. 702-460-8682