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Case of the Wandering Water

GretaGirl's picture

Case of the Wandering Water (post #216155)

I have a house that was built in 1988 outside Portland, Oregon. It has a crawlspace and recently I discovered that water is coming into the crawlspace where the water main enters. I am assuming water is following the water main line in, as this seems like the entry-point based on water, slope, etc. 

Some additional info:

  • I had the city water department check to make sure there are no leaks at my house as well as any of the neighbors' houses.
  • I am currently working with the city to determine where the water is coming from since it has tested as city water.
  • There is some drainage in the crawspace (from a previous owner or the builder?) and I have lived in this house for 15 years.
  • The only time I have ever seen water (minimal water at the water main entrance) in the crawlspace was when I had the water main replaced and it has been otherwise dry until I discovered water this Spring.
  • The water main goes under the foundation and into the crawlspace. (Are there alternative ways that a water main can enters a home)? A city engineer recently thought this setup was odd even thought it passed inspection when I had a new water main put in about 10 years ago.

I feel I need to be proactive. While we are working to find out where the mystery water is coming from, I would like to stop the water from entering by diverting the water on the exterior of the house. 

I think I need to talk to someone that does exterior drainage and foundation work. Could anyone tell me if this is indeed the type of contractor I need to call? And who would I call about the way the water main is entering the house? I am assuming this is not a genereal plumber but I am not sure.

Any advise would be much appreciated.

Many thanks in advance,

Greta Girl

I've seen at least two cases (post #216155, reply #1 of 6)

I've seen at least two cases where such water was leaking from the "tap" on the water main out in the street, and another where several homes (including ours) suffered continuing water problems for decades due to a cracked water main a block up the hill.


Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville

Turn the water off at the (post #216155, reply #2 of 6)

Turn the water off at the meter, which I assume is at the street, and see if the leak continues. If it does it's a city leak and should be their fix. If it doesn't then shut off the water to the house at your house side shut off. If it still leaks you'll know it's your leak and you'll probably need to replace your entrance water line which any plumber could do.

Florida Licensed Building Contractor, 50 years experience in commercial remodeling, new homes, home remodeling and repairs and all types building maintenance.

Most of the time, scenarios (post #216155, reply #3 of 6)

Most of the time, scenarios like the one you're describing have a pretty simple explanation and isolating where the water is coming from in the first place is your best place to start. Another one of the commenters said to shut off the water at the meter and in your house, which of course is the right approach. Just make sure you allow enough time for the water to dry or clean it off with a towel so you can see what's happening better. 

Plumbers I've worked with have all been able to handle something like this. 

Let us know what you find out.

It is for sure on the cities (post #216155, reply #4 of 6)

It is for sure on the cities end (city problem). It may be months before it’s fixed. Any way to divert this water from following the water main into the crawl space in the meantime?

"Diverting" the flow would (post #216155, reply #5 of 6)

"Diverting" the flow would invokve digging a hole down to the pipe, presumably somewhere in your yard, and adding drainage tile near it to carry the water off in a different direction.  How practical this is depends on the depth of the pipe and the layout of your yard.


Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville

If the pipe is going through (post #216155, reply #6 of 6)

If the pipe is going through a block or concrete wall you can use hydraulic cement packed quickly and tightly around the pipe.

Florida Licensed Building Contractor, 50 years experience in commercial remodeling, new homes, home remodeling and repairs and all types building maintenance.