Water leaks, even small ones, cost homeowners thousands of dollars every year.
Whether your bill increased, you spot water damage on the floor or ceiling, or the water pressure seems less than usual, checking for a leak is easy to do.
Start With the Water Meter
First, check the outside water meter. If you know where the water shut-off valve to the house is, turn it off. Otherwise, don’t use any water while doing this test.
Once you locate the water meter, see if water is running. It should have a triangular valve or a silver wheel that rotates. If water is moving when everything is off, you have a leak.
If you can’t tell, keep the water off for a couple of hours, then check the meter again.
If the meter reading changed, you have a leak.
If the meter moves, yet no water in the house is running, the leak is between your house and the meter. If the meter indicator stops, the leak is inside your home.
Remember, as the homeowner, you are responsible for the pipes from the meter to your home.
To fix an underground leak, you need to call a professional plumber. Just finding the leak saves you money because the plumber can get started faster if you already have an idea of where the problem is.
A leaky toilet wastes hundreds of gallons of water, but finding the leak takes some detective work. Most toilet leaks are easy to repair without calling a plumber.
To find out if your toilet is leaking, remove the lid from the tank at the back of the toilet. Place a few drops of food coloring in the tank, don’t flush, and wait about 30 minutes.
If color leached into the toilet bowl, you have a leak. In most cases, the toilet flapper and/or filling mechanism need replacing. Plan on spending about $8 to $10 at the hardware store.
Another common place for leaks is outside where you attach garden hoses. First, turn on the water so it flows from the hose.
If there is water coming from the faucet too, you have an easy to repair leak. Just replace the rubber gasket at the point where the hose attaches to the faucet.
If you have a sprinkler system, turn it on and make sure the sprayers work correctly. Have the sprinkler system checked annually by a professional plumber.
Leaking watering systems waste up to 6,300 gallons of water per month.
Other Problem Places
Once a month, check under the sinks for damp cabinets or floors. Pooling moisture indicates a leaky pipe. Even an excessive amount of condensation needs checking out.
If a sink faucet leaks, check the washer. Worn washers are easy repairs, but remember to turn off the water to the sink. Faucets are not shut-off valves.
If you suspect a leak in your pipes at home, don’t hesitate. Try to find the leak yourself, as it might be a simple fix.
For hard to reach or underground leaks, call a professional plumber. If you find the leak prior to the service call, you’ll save time for the plumber and save money for yourself.