2

Found that a copper pipe coming out of ground in back yard is the Hot Water pipe for the house. Turn on the Hot Water, the pipe gets hot.

It is sticking up out of the ground and think this is NOT GOOD! Would this be normal for a house on a slab built around 1956 in Texas?

Seems like it should be either running through the house or through the slab, not the back yard! It has a "nick" in the top of the pipe, so now getting worried it might start leaking, let alone the fact that it is sticking out of the ground. Would think it should have been buried about 4-8 ft down, not on the surface....

Any ideas?


I understand Ecnerwal's explanation and what to do, just not sure I want to be the one doing it or that its a good long term solution.

Having worked on building houses over the years, I've done anything from framing to electrical wiring. Even hung drywall, thrown mud and done simple texturing, but that's an art I've never been good at.

One thing I've never done is run copper pipe. We always had a plumber come in and do this on the houses we built. Seemed like a lot of soldering and pipe bending - with a lot of patience. What I have never seen is sending a water line, either hot or cold, out through the yard to come back in on the other side of the house. This is where I think the 'jury rigging' has taken place. When? Who knows. My concern is, why?

The home was built in 1956(7), so maybe the pipes went bad somewhere? Regardless, I would have thought they would run the pipe into the ground next to the house, not out of the house a good 10 feet, then back in (and built a deck over it!). I can certainly bury the pipe again, but I plan on putting in sprinklers and gutters to pipe water to cisterns.

If I hadn't noticed this, the PVC pipes from the gutters would have cut right into this pipe when we did lay those. Should I be looking to rework this piping against the house slab foundation and bury there?

Most of my building experience was in CA. Is this normal for Texas?

My thought at this point is to call a plumber and see what they think.

Just trying to get some ideas / opinions so I'm at least half way informed before I start paying out big bucks for a little issue (hopefully!).

  • 1
    Where is the water heater? No particular reason to think 4-8 feet down in Texas - frost line is probably much less than that. Up North we have the water heater in the house, so hot water lines outside the house are not normal. – Ecnerwal Apr 23 '15 at 17:11
  • 1
    In California, water heaters are almost always inside the house, too. I can't imagine Texas would be different. – DoxyLover Apr 23 '15 at 18:36
  • The water heater is in the garage in one corner and sectioned off. The washer and dryer are in the same room. The water pipes go into this area and go out through the wall. I get the impression someone "rigged" the hot water line to the house by going out, then back in... Just know the frost line is deeper than the approximate 2" they must have put this down. Now a section is above ground, so couldn't have been that deep to start. – Loren McGuire Apr 23 '15 at 18:58
  • I understand your explanation and what to do, just not sure I want to be the one doing it or that its a good long term solution. Having worked on building houses over the years, I've done anything from framing to electrical wiring. Even hung drywall, thrown mud and done simple texturing, but that's an art I've never been good at. One thing I've never done is run copper pipe. We always had a plumber come in and do this on the houses we built. Seemed like a lot of soldering and pipe bending - with a lot of patience. What I have never seen is sending a water line, either hot or cold, out through – user35944 Apr 24 '15 at 14:43
2

Carefully dig it out (a garden hose may be useful for "hydro-excavating" right next to the pipe, otherwise some careful trowel and shovel work) and figure out where it does run, then you can decide what to do about it. Beware of possible other poorly buried items while you are digging (wires, etc.)

Assuming you have to work with where it comes out of the garage (Point G) and where it goes into the house(Point H), dig deeper and bury it deeper, reconfiguring the line to fit the deeper trench, and insulating it very well (buried hot water line sounds like cash leaving your wallet in a hurry.) Remove the damaged section of line while you are at it, or change everything between Point G and Point H to PEX.

One relatively good technique for insulating underground lines is to build a box of XPS styrofoam around the pipe and fill that box with polyurethane foam; I'm not sure if you'd have to do anything special to make it termite-resistant, those are not an issue where most people I know are using them to protect heating lines running outside between buildings.

If you would prefer NOT to run it where it runs now, that is certainly an option under "and decide what to do about it" especially if you are up for tearing into the house as much as needed for re-routing the line inside the house.

1

It is possible this was originally used for a wood fired water heater? Perhaps This would have been the precursor to the wood/pellet stoves currently in use in some parts of the country.

Maybe someone wanted a fancy outhouse (or other out building) with hot water.

Very odd scenario!!

What to do now? It depends on how much time and money you want to spend to have thing function as they already do.

0

Original owners planned on an outdoor cooking area on the deck. Hot water to an outside sink. A natural gas line next to it for a grill.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.