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  1. 7/13/2012 HOW TO FIND A WATER LEAK
  2. You know you have a water leak when the drip drip drip of a leaking faucet or a running toilet keeps you up at night or you suddenly step onto a wet floor.  But what if the leak is hidden from view; how do you know if it’s even there and how do you go about finding it? 
     
    Usually the first clue a homeowner receives that they might have a hidden leak is when they notice an increase in their water bill.  Upon inquiring about the increased water bill their water utility has suggested that they may have a water leak on their property.
     
    How do you go about finding a suspected leak that is hidden?  Your water meter may be your most useful tool in identifying water leaks on your property because the meter only operates when water is flowing into your property.  Follow these easy steps to check for unseen leaks:
     
    • First shut off ALL the faucets and water-using appliances, inside and outside your home.  Remember, if you have an ice maker, sprinkler system or some other device that automatically uses water, it will be detected by the water meter.  Be sure to shut them off as well.
     
    • Locate your water meter:  Locate the water supply shut-off valve for your home.  It can be outdoors or indoors and is commonly located where the main water pipe enters the home’s foundation.  In a home, this is often near an outside faucet.  On new homes the water meter is often placed in the basement or crawl space, while some of the older homes may have them located outside in a meter pit.
                                      
    • Next check the reading on your meter.  Just like reading the odometer on your car, you read a water meter from left to right.  The single gallons are indicated by the red sweep hand (much like a second hand on a watch).  If this is moving at all, your household is using water.  Also visually check the small red gear-like dial located to the left of center of the red sweep hand.  That dial is a leak detector; therefore if it is turning a leak is occurring.
     
    Without using any water, wait for approximately 30 minutes. Then recheck the meter. If the hand has moved, number has changed, or the leak indicator is turning, water is leaking (or running) somewhere on your property.
     
    • Now, close the main shut-off valve.  If the indicator stops, your leak is inside your home.  Check toilets and faucets.  If the indicator continues to move when the shut-off valve is closed, you have an underground leak between the water meter and the shut-off valve, which needs to be repaired.
     
     
    Common Causes of a Leak
     
    The most common cause of a small leak is a faucet or toilet.  You can get toilet tank leak detector tablets or place a few drops of food coloring in the toilet tank.  If any color appears in the bowl, the toilet is leaking.  Also, you may hear a toilet tank refill periodically without being flushed.
     
    If your toilets, faucets or water-using appliances are not leaking, there may be an outside leak in the irrigation system.  The best way to determine if your irrigation system is leaking is by looking at your lawn.  Check around all the heads and connections, often that is where leaks are found.  Walk your property.  If you notice wet spots or pooling of water around your spray heads, this is a good indication that your irrigation system has a leak.
     
     
    You Found or May Have Not Have Found Your Leak…Now What?
     
    Recognize that in many cases a leak can be very hard to locate.  Not all of the leaks outlined in this article can be located and you may miss something easily.  If you find a simple leak like your toilet flapper or kitchen faucet, you may want to fix the problem yourself but if you are unable to find the leak, or do not feel comfortable repairing the leak yourself, call a professional plumber/irrigation contractor to locate and fix the leak.
     
    Even if you could not find the exact source of a leak, by trying the above mentioned steps, you should be able to find an approximate location and this is a most valuable exercise in itself because it will help the professional plumber/irrigation contractor (many plumbers do not like searching for a problem so anything you can do they will appreciate), making it time saving for the plumber/irrigation contractor which will in turn translate into savings for you.
     
    If you have any questions or concerns about leaks in your home, please call Scott Hand, District Operations Supervisor, at 303-979-2333.