HELP!!! Leak in water service lateral!

Hi all;
I just discovered a leak in my water service lateral between the meter and the shut-0ff valve where the pipe enters the house. It looks like the buried pipe makes a straight shot from the meter to the valve, as the leak is right where you'd expect if so. It'sa fair-sized leak too, probably 1 or 1.5 gallons per minute.
BUT, the soil around the leak is saturated with water, and the holes I've dug to expose the pipe are full of muddy water with nowhere to drain. I can't find the pipe or be exactly sure where the leak is.
I've called some plumbers but none are immediately available. Is there anyway to find the pipe and leak aside from digging up the whole planter?
Thanks a heap, -Zz
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Zz Yzx wrote:

What material is the service lateral? Galv iron? Lead? Copper? Plastic?
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It's PVC where it leaves the meter box, but it's copper where it daylights and goes into the house. I'm betting its PVC from the meter to the joint near the shut-off valve.
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Zz Yzx wrote:

Prime suspect would be the coupling/adapter between the PVC and copper. Could have a split in it.
Can you shut the water off at the meter long enough to excavate around that likely area?
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Zz Yzx wrote:

A pump is really, really useful. Ideally a "trash pump", but with some screaning you could fake it with a sump pump. (make sure you have a gfci somewhere in the circuit). Rent a pump if you don't have or want to buy one.
Once you find the leak, you most likely will have to shut off the water to repair it.
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I've found shutting off water can be helpful during the repair process.
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Christopher A. Young
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wrote:

A hand bilge pump would work, if the water is shut off. A local boat/marine store or even a hardware would have one.
They work great in landscape boxes if a break floods them.
You can find (search) - Building Hand Bilge Pumps.
Oren --
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That happened to an old neighbor of mine, but the break was under the basement slab and it was a finished basement. The cheapest solution was to install a whole new service drop parallel to the old one and just leave the old one in the ground unused.
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Zz Yzx wrote:

If there is truly that much water flowing the pipe should be easy to locate. Just take a 2x4 or a rod and poke into the soggiest area. I'd sure turn off the water at the meter. If nothing can be used to locate the pipe, having the water shut off would allow water to drain away and make digging easier. The amount of water will soon cost more than a plumber :o)
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Norminn wrote:

That would take a lot. I had a full break on a 3/4" line from my meter that dumped 12,000 gallons overnight before I found it, and that only cost like $60 extra. I doubt you'd get a plumber to show up for $60, much less do anything.
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clipped

I've always lived where public water supply was relatively expensive. Here is one example:
* *TOILET* with chain under flapper o 1.6 gallons per minute o 96 gallons per hr (.13 units) o 2,304 gallons per day (3.08 units) o *69,120 gallons per month (92.4 units*)* o *Total cost - $414.12 per month!*
Presently, my city charges roughly $5 per thousand gallons for potable water. At the rate the OP thought was leaking, it comes out to $10 per day, $300 per month. Since that is money totally wasted, calling a plumber quickly changes from "last resort" to a good idea. I don't have money to waste, but locating the problem quickly is primary, not only for cost but to prevent damage. Smashing one square of a sidewalk also starts to sound like a good idea, based on the fact that OP thinks the leak might be there. If the soil beneath it is scoured out, it could cave at some inopportune time. I'm the worrier in our household, but I've kept my husband from killing himself at least three times. "Honey, what's that smell?" "I don't smell anything." Five minutes later the car stalls - overheated. "Honey, what's that noise?" "I don't hear anything." He was cranking the line for main sail on the sailboat, strong enough to either break the line or demast the boat. The line had snagged and he wasn't pulling the sail up, he was pulling the mast and the sound was the mast creaking . "Honey, why does the car make that thumping noise?" "What noise?" Tire bulging and ready to blow. He still drives like he has a flashing blue light on top of the car, but hasn't had one for a long time :o)
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Rent a mud sucker to get ahead of the leak.
    Una
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I finally got a plumber and the guy from the sity to look at it. The plumber said "We'll start digging at our full hourly rate, and once we find the leak we'll give you a repair estimate and roll the cost of digging into it." Whilke I was out bying repair supplies, the guy from the city brought out a "hog pump" (hand-operated pump and dewaterd the hole. And then watched it fill back up. "Yup, you got a leak in the service lateral".
So I took out a landscaping railroad tie and finally exposed the PVC pipe at the point adjacent to the leak. No break or obvious leak, it looks to be in fine shape. But I can still see water roiling up from the base of the hole. I'm guessing the leak is up towards the shut-off valve, under the sidewalk.
-Zz
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clipped

Could be a crack on the bottom side of the pipe. If the water was shut off, the hole pumped out, and then the water turned back on it seems the leak location would be more apparent????
Hubby and I once spent a full day repairing the broken main supply line for reclaimed water on our condo irrigation system. Hubby digging, me running to Home Depot. This was a good deal deeper than the lines to the sprinkler heads, and pretty rough work for hubby. At the end of the day, we laid our tired heads on our pillows, windows open and a glorious Florida breeze blowing in. Not two minutes after getting into bed, the pipe connection let go and was shooting water through our open window! Keep yer windows closed :o)
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