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Old 08-24-2005, 09:59 AM   #1
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How to find a water leak

Just recently purchased a 1973 23 foot Safari. Had it inspected by our local RV place and it all checked out great with the exception of the pluming. There is a major leak as water was pouring out of the belly. How do I find and repair this leak or would it be better to replace all the pluming. Where do I start and what is involved. I need my trailer by the end of September. I live in a small desert town and finding someone to work on an Airstream is going to be tough if not impossible. Please point me in the right direction. Regards, Eddo
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Old 08-24-2005, 10:20 AM   #2
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I would start by pulling off the belly pan to see if there are any obvious clues as to where the leak is eminating from.

It sounds drastic, but can be accomplished pretty easily by drilling out the rivets yourself. Then if the leak is obvious, repair it, then re-rivet the belly pan back on. You may get lucky and find the leak in the first section you remove...regardless, by removing the belly pan you will definately be in a posititon to better assess the plumbing issues and what all needs to be repaired.

Shari
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Old 08-24-2005, 11:13 AM   #3
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Try this~

Quote:
Originally Posted by eddo
Just recently purchased a 1973 23 foot Safari. Had it inspected by our local RV place and it all checked out great with the exception of the pluming. There is a major leak as water was pouring out of the belly. How do I find and repair this leak or would it be better to replace all the pluming. Where do I start and what is involved. I need my trailer by the end of September. I live in a small desert town and finding someone to work on an Airstream is going to be tough if not impossible. Please point me in the right direction. Regards, Eddo
Eddo,
Last fall, I was searching for the source of water leak as well. A good friend of mine works for a Hi tech company that makes test equipment and, he suggested that we try one of the company's ultra sound devices to find the leak.
I swear we found source of this leak in less than 5 minutes.
What we used was two pieces of hand-held test gear, one was the transmitter and the other was the receiver. You simply placed the transmitter outside near where you think the leak is and shut the door to the outside. Then walk around inside with the hand-held receiver till you find the signal.(Hence, the source of the leak)
We not only pin-pointed that source of leak but, in the process, found another one as well..!!
The retail price of the instruments used for this test is not cheap.(it list for over 900$..) but..It works~!
if you're interested in the model numbers, names...PM
ciao
53FC
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Old 08-24-2005, 11:20 AM   #4
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I live in Phoenix, bought a '76 last month, same problem. The PO didnt winterize the lines, and there are several splits (burst's) in the copper from expansion. We stripped ours to inside skin, this is how I found it. Replacing with PVC now. Looking under at the belly pan might not be an easy solution, as water runs to the lowest point. I'd look for the wet spots in the interior to find it, but if yours is 3 years older than mine, in the same State, may be the same issue? Working on the AS is pretty simple, dont be afraid to go at it yourself.
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Old 08-24-2005, 11:25 AM   #5
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before you do anything that drastic, make sure you have your valves all set correctly. there are 3 valves under the galley, and 2 under the bathroom sink. if they're open, water will "pour out of the belly" when you turn on the water supply.

taking off the belly pan won't reveal much. there aren't any plumbing lines under there, with one exception of the city water hookup, but it goes straight up from the rear street-side corner, through that one piece of bananna wrap and up above the floor, just under the shower.

There is a pressure relief valve, located under the bathroom sink, also, that drains straight down through the floor and sticks out of the belly pan. there are also the low point drains, fore and aft. the open ends of these 1/2" pipes may not stick out of the belly pan much, or at all, if the belly pan has shifted around. (loose rivet, etc...might make it sag in that spot).

So, if its still got its "factory" plumbing, and there's a leak, it should be visible somewhere inside the trailer.

"pouring out the belly pan" makes me think that one of the drains is open, or the pressure relief valve is stuck open, OR, the pressure relief valve is doing exactly what its supposed to do, and is relieving excess water pressure. you can (and probably should) get a hose-end water pressure regulator at Walmart for <5 bucks that will insure that there is no more than 40psi going into the water lines.
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Old 08-24-2005, 01:37 PM   #6
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Post If you don't feel comfortable...

Quote:
Originally Posted by eddo
I live in a small desert town and finding someone to work on an Airstream is going to be tough if not impossible. Please point me in the right direction. Regards, Eddo
working on it yourself, Oasis RV in Tucson is one of the best Airstream Service Centers in the country and it's in our own state!
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Old 08-24-2005, 02:31 PM   #7
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When I first got my AS, I used an air compressor. Just hooked it up to my city H2O connection, started to pressurize and found 2 leaks right away. After repairing I repressurized to 25lbs ( don't go much higher...relief valve will open on water heater) and let it set over night, it held air and that was that. When you test it like that you only get air all over the floor instead water!
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Old 08-24-2005, 06:18 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tinman7
When I first got my AS, I used an air compressor. Just hooked it up to my city H2O connection, started to pressurize and found 2 leaks right away. After repairing I repressurized to 25lbs ( don't go much higher...relief valve will open on water heater) and let it set over night, it held air and that was that. When you test it like that you only get air all over the floor instead water!

WoW! Awesome idea McGuyver....What about testing a furnace?
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Old 08-25-2005, 03:32 PM   #9
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Thankyou

Thank you all for some good advice regarding my leak. After we got it back from the RV place we felt a little demoralized but after posting my dilemma I received some good encouragement from you good people. Now my RV place said they wouldn't even touch the water system if it had a leak and of course it had a major one by running out the belly. Later that early evening we had a cocktail and hooked up our garden hose to see if we could find the leak, sure enough it popped up it's little ugly head around the shower area with great enthusiasm. We removed the trim at the bottom of the shower to expose the pipes meandering next to it. Sure enough there she was, a hole large enough to stick my thumb in. I followed the rest of the copper lines to the front but did not see anything suspect at this time. The area with the hole was the low spot and probably trapped some water and froze on some winter many years ago. This is just a thank you but I need to post another question regarding low spots. Eddo
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Old 08-26-2005, 03:04 PM   #10
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SWEET!!! but the leaks are like roaches, you see one, there's 10 more that you dont see. Seriously though, the hole you can stick your thumb through is flowing so much water that there is probably not enough pressure down the line to leak. All Im saying is dont replace the all of the stuff you pulled out to get to it yet, unless your sure. I found two big ones, then after making the decision to rip it all out, I found 8-10 more under neath areas I couldnt see, on the backside of the shower etc.... But then again, you may be lucky with just one..
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