Most water lines connected to homes are metered to track usage for billing reasons. If a water line has a leak, the monthly usage bill can be very high. For this reason, it is important for homeowners to be vigilant in reviewing their bills. If a bill seems higher, it is time to look for a leak. Water leaks that are significant are usually detected by the utility company, and the utility provider typically notifies the affected customer. Most water leaks start out small and are easy to find with a few simple steps.
Hot Water Tanks
The valves for these tanks are usually connected to a drain that may be leaking without the knowledge of the homeowner. If the drain pipe cannot be removed, listen for a hissing sound that indicates a leak.
To find a leak in a toilet, first remove the lid from the tank. Listen for any sounds of water draining or for hissing noises. If these noises are noted, try to locate their source. Some leaks can be fixed and some cannot. When the leak is not possible to fix, call a plumber. If no leaking noises are noted, add a few drops of food coloring to the tank. After about five minutes, check the bowl for coloring. If the water is colored, this indicates a leak in the flapper. It is possible to complete this repair with a kit, but some people may feel more comfortable calling a plumber.
When the toilets have been ruled out for leaks, look at the meter line running to the house. Locating the leak for the plumber will save plenty of money, so this is an important step. Turn the shutoff valve to the off position. Remove the lid on the meter, and watch the meter’s dial. In some cases, grass or dirt may be covering the meter head. When it is located, watch to see if the meter is turning. A turning meter indicates a leak somewhere between the meter and the house. Look for greener grass, muddier ares or soft spots in the yard that may indicate a leak to report to the plumber. Alternately, if the meter is not moving, the leak is somewhere in the house.
Leaks By The House
Put a metal screwdriver on the metal part of each hose bib connected to the house. Place the thumb knuckle over the top of the screwdriver. Touch the area just in front of the ear to the thumb knuckle. This creates an effect similar to a stethoscope. If any sounds are noted, remember what they sound like and where they are. When noises are louder in one hose bib than the other, this means the leak is closer to the bib where the noise is more audible. If no noises are noted on the hose bibs, try the same tip on the faucets in the house. Be careful to avoid scalding when doing this with the hot water heater.
Additional Leak Sources
Check all of the taps, irrigation systems, hoses and sprinklers on the property. Also, check the shower heads for any leaks. This is a step that many people overlook, and repairing a shower head is a simple DIY task. People who have a swimming pool or hot tub should check the unit for leaks.
Not all leaks can be identified by using the tips in this guide. Some leaks can be very hard to locate and will require the attention of a professional plumber. However, homeowners should never ignore leaks. They will only worsen when they are not addressed immediately. Taking the time to complete these steps may pay off for some homeowners, because plumbers will not have to charge as much if the leak’s location has already been pinpointed.