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Water entering through electrical conduit

David Meiland

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Idle speculation warmly invited, since I can't offer enough facts for a firm conclusion.

Client's house is near the bottom of a long, gentle slope. During/after heavy rain, water pours out of a junction box that is attached to the bottom of the floor joists, carried there by the 2" conduit for the underground service. The outside end of the conduit was located by digging test holes, and it was in a ditch packed tight with native soil. If the end of the conduit had instead been bedded in sand or gravel, I would have thought the water was entering there, but I'm not sure and am wondering if instead it is entering at the various joints along the pipe (there's a slipjoint every 10 feet that's supposed to be glued but perhaps is not).

What are the chances that a LOT of water enters through fairly tight-fitting slipjoints, if they're not glued? What are the chances that a LOT of water enters through an open conduit end packed tightly in dirt?

Of course the pipe could be cracked somewhere... it could be discontinuous... no way to find out as it travels under a really spectacular patio.

I know, nothing to go on here, but what have you seen in your travels?

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I'm thinking there's about 50 feet of conduit, if it's continuous. Apparently so much water was coming out of the j-box that it sounded like a major plumbing leak when he entered the crawl space at the other end and around a corner. That much water through 5 joints. The guys around here usually swab a bunch of glue inside the flared end and jamb the two pieces together. They are impossible to get apart. I guess they leak anyway. A lot.

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I wouldn't be surprised if water was entering, or condensing within, 50 foot of buried conduit. No surprise at all.

It's PVC, is it? Some sparkies won't glue any buried PVC. They'd rather finish quicker and move on to the next paycheck.

If it's RGS or Robroy, few guys will tighten the couplings more than hand tight, above or below ground.


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. . . I know, nothing to go on here, but what have you seen in your travels?

In 1978 I was working on a large building that had a street running through its lower level. A bunch of conduits ran underground below the street, and terminated in the basement of each building. My job was to figure out which conduit was which so that we could then pull the appropriate wires through them. When I uncapped one of the conduits, water gushed out as if someone had opened a hose bib. No water appeared out of the other end of this same conduit, in the building across the street, but the water continued to flow for days. It never stopped. We just abandoned that conduit and sealed it up again. Never did figure out what was going on.

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