Leaks

The first sign of a leak is usually a water bill that is higher than normal.  If you receive a bill that is higher than normal, you should think about what may have caused the increase in water use. There are several things or events that can increase your water use. Think about the past month. What are some things that could have increased your water use? Did you have overnight company or long term guests? Did you water your lawn more than usual? Maybe you filled a swimming pool or washed your automobile. If you can’t think of any event over the past month that may have affected your water use and your bill is higher than normal, you may have a leak.

Small leaks tend to get worse over time so if you suspect a leak, you should locate it and repair it as soon as possible.  A leak can occur anywhere in your plumbing including faucets, toilets, or even your underground plumbing pipes.  Most leaks are easy to find and repair on your own. Others may require a professional plumber.

How to Check for Leaks

Use you water meter to check for leaks in your home or outdoor plumbing.  Start by turning off all faucets and water-using appliances and make sure mo one uses water during the testing period.  Take a reading from the water meter and write the numbers down. Wait at least two hours and take another meter reading.  If the reading has changed during the testing period and no water was used, this means water has passed through the meter. Water passing through your meter when no water is being used means you have a leak.  Click here for printable information on using your water meter to detect leaks.

Common Locations of Leaks Inside Your Home

Toilets

The most common place of leaks in homes is a leaking toilet. In fact, it is estimated that an average of 20% of all toilets leak. Check the overflow of the toilet tank to make sure no water is running over. If water is running into the overflow, this could mean the float level is too high. The flapper valve in the bottom of the tank is also a location of a possible leak. To check for a flapper valve leak, put a small amount of food coloring into the toilet tank (not the bowl) after it has filled. Do not flush the toilet for at least an hour, or overnight if possible.   If the food coloring shows up in the bowl without flushing, you probably have a leaking flapper or plunger ball valve.

Faucets

Water faucets are another common location of a leak in your home. Faucets can leak from the spout or from the plumbing underneath the sink.

A dripping faucet can waste as much as 15 gallons of water per day. That equates to 450 gallons in one month. If you suspect a dripping faucet, place a container underneath the spout for about an hour and don’t use the faucet during this time. Make sure the container is dry. After an hour has passed, check the container. If any water is visible, your faucet is leaking. Repairing a dripping faucet is easy and can save water and money spent on your water bill.

To find a leak underneath the faucet, open the cabinets and remove and dry all the contents. Now turn the water on, both hot and cold sides. With the water running, look underneath the sink to see if you can determine where the water is leaking from. If you cannot repair the leak yourself, call a professional plumber.

 Water Heater

The pressure release valve on your water heater tank is another common place of indoor leaks. The valve is a brass fitting threaded into the tank and is most often located near the top of the tank.

Look for signs of water around the valve or even on the floor around the water heater. If the pressure release valve is leaking, water may drip down the side of the tank and onto the floor. If you find a leaking pressure release valve on your water heater you should repair it immediately.

These are just some common places of leaks inside the home. These are not the only places leaks can occur. Leaks can also occur on dishwashers, ice makers, washing machines , or plumbing pipes, just to name a few.

Leaks can also occur outside the home. Check outdoor water spigots, sprinkler systems and swimming pools. In any case, if you can’t find and repair the leak yourself, call a professional plumber.

Click here for more facts about leaks.