LEAK in wall? (Was: new valve stems - unequal water pressure)

More questions regarding my plumbing project of yesterday. I replaced two valve stems in a shower/tub and had to clean out material that was clogging what I assume are the valve seats due to low flow. I did this by gently disturbing the material with a small screwdriver, then blowing it out without the stems in place.
Today I tried draining the hot water heater since the hot faucet is the one that was clogged yesterday. When I opened the drain to drain the tank very little water came out so I turned the water to the heater on to flush it out and let it run for several minutes. Then turned the tank's water control off and still no water drained from it. So I closed the drain pipe and turned the water back on to fill the heater. Tank had never been drained before this attempt.
Then when in the bathroom where I replaced the valve stems a couple of hours later, I could and still can hear what sounds like water running behind the wall. Water flow in the tub was reduced for both hot and cold this time, so I removed the stems and again there was this white sediment clogging both valves. I cleaned that out again.
The water supply valve for the house is OFF, but I am still hearing what sounds like water running behind the shower wall. No water leaking from the valves or any faucet in the house. The water shut off valve is just outside the affected shower wall. This bathroom is the furthest site of water consumption from the water heater.
Could I have damaged something by running water through the hot water heater for an extended time period? Or could what I'm hearing be air in the pipes? Unfortunately, this does not sound like air. I'm not getting how I could be hearing water running behind the wall with the main supply valve off.
Any ideas?
Thanks.
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On Mar 26, 5:35 pm, post snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

confirm main shutoff valve is closed, open valves at lowest place in home, open all valves thru house. the lowest valves should drain for a bit then stop, unless your main inlet valve is bad.
thats a strong possiblity, it happened to me:( a very memorable day: ( YUK
Did the water running sound stop? It should with everything shut off and drained.
With a older water heater its best to leave them be, the drasin valve is likely cheap plastic designed for one thing draining tank at end of life. Most often they leak if disturbed.
You can get a screw on cap to stop its leaking.
I HOPE you turned the gas or electric off when draing the tank, if the water level dropped it can do permanent damage to your tank.
What kind of water lines do you have ? galvanized? copper? plastic? PEX?
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With main valve off is the meter moving over time?
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Thank you for the reply.
The water department was just here and turned off the meter. That turned off the water. So I have a broken pipe at some point. I could also hear the water running outside next to the shut off with the valve off. I wonder whether that suggests that the break is outside?
This is an older house and I really don't know what the pipes are made off.
If it is the main inlet valve that is bad, wouldn't there still be water available at the faucets with the valve off? There isn't any right now with the valve off. Not even a drip coming out of the tub valves with the stems out.
And by the way, yes the electric was off when draining the H/W tank.
I am really not getting the connection between draining the h/w tank or even replacing the valve stems and this break. Guess I'll find out when I get a plumber out here.
Thanks again for the input.
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On Mar 26, 6:53 pm, post snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

That depends on what you mean by bad. If it's failed so that water gets by the valve when it's closed, then the answer would be yes. But if it's failed by leaking water to the outside, then it would have no effect on water getting by the valve. Why would you think the valve might be bad to begin with?

Which is what you would expect. .

Draining the water heater should have had no effect on any pipe breaking. Unless it was in a very deteriorated state and you turned the water on and off rapidly while it was flowing at a good rate. That could have created a surge that pushed the pipe over the edge, but] it would have happened before long without that additional hellp, if that is what happened.
Same thing with screwing around with old valve stems. If the plumbing was about to go, you may have given it the final push.
What's under the area with the wall with the bathroom valves? If you have access, I'd find out if water is showing up below. If you can hear it running and it's moving the meter, the water has to be going somewhere. If it turns out to be inside that wall, next consideration is what's on the other side. If it's a closet wall for example, that can make the process of cutting an access hole easier.
.
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post snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

Rare, but not unheard of:
Turning the main valve on rather quickly puts a pressure surge in the pipes. If a joint or section of pipe was fragile, this sudden surge could cause a failure.
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wrote:

Just jostling a section of fragile pipe can cause leaking. This confirms my decision to search high and low for a new cartridge for my kitchen sink instead of replacing the whole assembly. Old plumbing is vengeful. Bother it enough and it will fight back. Hard.
I learned that putting a new toilet in. Everything up the line from what I was working on failed because the joints were old, calcified and ready to go. And they went. A simple toilet replacement ended up with torn up walls, multiple trips to the plumbing supply house and visits to the neighbors to use their toilets. I did learn that if you're going to be applying any serious force to an old pipe to strap it down as well as you can to eliminate the chance of it acting as a huge lever and damaging a joint upstream.
Same damn thing happened when the shower diverter valve failed. After 70 years stuff happens.
-- Bobby G.
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Robert Green wrote:

Let us gather at the riv-er, the beautiful, the beautiful riv-er. Amen, brother.

Sometimes it's not the pipe's fault.
A bit back I posted an expose regarding my attempt to replace a standard hose bib with a quarter-turn valve.
Short version: I put the wrench on the existing bib and gave it a little nudge. The pipe holding the bib disintegrated! The pipe exited the brick veneer through a junction between two bricks and was mortared into place. The mortar had eaten (virtually) through the galvanized pipe.
This turned a straight-forward afternoon task in to a several hundred curseword job as a 2x2' section of brick wall had to be removed to get to the pipe on the other side. But wait, it gets better!
I had FOUR of these goddamn pipes to mess with, each with varying degrees of corruption.
Still, I was lucky to have discovered the issue before a catastrophic failure.
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assume galvanized is bad and about to fail because it will:(
but first flow will be slowed and joints will leak and you will tire of patch jobs
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Regarding repairs, electrical work can kill you but only plumbing work can make you want to kill. That and removing ancient wallpaper from a ceiling.

All this stuff should have been yanked years ago, but this was just a temporary residence - until the market imploded. I'm thinking of Pexing the whole damn setup. Thinking and thinking. (-:

I've had my share of hose bib problems. The person who installed the front yard bib thought it would be a great idea to attach it ahead of the main shut-off valve instead of running a foot extra of pipe to connect the valve beyond it. Fortunately, when the water company was doing pipe work and shut the water off at the street I took the opportunity to install an electrically controlled whole-house shut-off almost at the point where the street pipe enters the house, so now I can shut off all the water to the house remotely. Turns out to be a very good thing to have more than one shut-off valve because not long after the manual valve needed replacement.

I'm betting everyone here has a story of the small job that turned into the job from hell, complete with desperate searches for replacement parts, fixing one part only to have two other parts connected to that part fail, etc. The jobs I really hate are the ones where you think you're correcting a problem only to find out that you've spent hours fixing something that wasn't broke

Catastrophic failures and medical emergencies seem to occur late on a Friday night. With houses, it isn't so bad, but weekend medical emergencies have been proven to be more fatal on average than your typical Monday morning stress-induced heart attack.
-- Bobby G.
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Robert Green wrote:

It's like being charged with man slaughter running over already dead body.
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wrote:

Reminds me of the law school hypothetical about the woman who shoots a shotgun out the window and miraculously hits her husband, who had just jumped off the15th story roof and was en route to the concrete below and certain death. The coroner says the blast killed him and he was dead by the time he hit the ground. Was it manslaughter or suicide?
(How does this relate to AHR? She probably shot him after he nursed one too many leaky galvanized joints beyond their useful lifetime.)
-- Bobby G.
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On Mar 26, 5:35 pm, post snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

Plumber came to assess. Found water bubbling up out of the ground near the shut off valve. This was not apparent the other day. He repaired the leak and installed a new shut off and he and I could still hear what sounds like water running behind the shower faucets, with the main shut-off valve off and the meter continuing to spin until turned off. The sound is louder when the shut-off valve is open.
He was going to continue digging to see if there are more leaks in the copper but I can do the digging for less $. He thought another leak would be near the valve anyway. But I've exposed about twelve feet of line and still no more leaks visible. His suggestion is to replace the whole line with new to the meter since the copper is old anyway and leaks may easily develop in the future, which sounds like a good anyway.
He says there is no way water is getting past the valve and into the house when the valve is off. Sure makes sense to me. His only other thought is that there is a second supply line that has developed a leak under the house. But this is a "modest" no frills house and when the shut-off valve is off, no water comes from any faucet.
I'll update further if and when warranted.
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On Mar 28, 3:32 pm, post snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

I found two more leaks as I continued digging, one of which was fairly substantial. So the copper pipe was replaced with PVC. I'm not real sure about the quality of the job the guy did, but for now the system seems sealed with no sound emanating from behind the shower wall. After envisioning walls getting torn apart, it's a relief knowing that that wasn't necessary.
It turns out that the white material that I had thought was calcium deposits clogging faucets is plastic from a disintegrating dip tube in the water heater. Ruud/Rheem advised that there was a class action suit addressing that in 1999, but filing closed in 2000, so no relief there. With a heater at 16 years old it may be better to replace than repair.
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On Mar 30, 2:41 pm, post snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

- have you ever seen the anode in your water heater? - have you been flushing the sediment out of it every year?
if you can't answer "yes" to both of those questions, I would be tempted to err on the side of caution and replace it.
Additionally, before you fill the new water heater, I would replace the drain valve with a ball valve as shown here:
http://waterheaterrescue.com/pages/WHRpages/English/OrderPages/XCart/Ball-Valve-Drain-Assembly.html
you can piece the same thing together from your local hardware store, it's just a dielectric nipple, a 3/4" ball valve, a 3/4" MPT to garden hose adapter, and a brass garden hose cap. Makes flushing every year so much easier, but you do need to be sure to keep the cap on there because otherwise if you accidentally kick the ball valve you'll get a jet of hot water (likely with some lovely sediment) all over your shoes and your laundry room floor.
I was annoyed when SWMBO had a plumber replace the water heater in our basement and they didn't transfer over the drain valve (per above) that I'd installed on the old WH when it failed the very first time I flushed it :( oh well, it'll be someone else's problem soon (hopefully.)
nate
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On Mar 30, 2:41 pm, post snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

Probably a good idea. It seems in about half the cases you don't have enough head room to install a new dip tub and have to remove the thing anyway. If you are removing a 16 year old hw heater then you might as well put in a new one.
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