Locate A Leak
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average household’s leak can account for nearly 10,000 gallons of water wasted every year and ten percent of homes have leaks that waste 90 gallons or more per day. Common types of leaks found in the home are worn toilet flappers, dripping faucets, and other leaking valves. These types of leaks are often easy to fix, requiring only a few tools and hardware that can pay for themselves in water savings. Fixing easily corrected household water leaks can save homeowners about 10 percent on their water bills.
Having trouble locating a leak? Watch the Leak Detection Workshop video that discusses where you should start your search and how to know when you've found the problem. You can also review the checklists below for some important tips and tricks.
3 Signs You May Have A Water Leak
1. Received an Alert
Residential customers will receive leak notifications if their water meter has recorded continuous water usage of at least 7.5 gallons per hour, every hour, over a monitored three-day period, or at least 37 gallons per hour, every hour, over a monitored one-day period (figure 1). This continuous water usage indicates that your property may have a leak or an appliance may have accidentally been left on.
2. Higher Than Usual Water Bill
A significant increase in water bills may be a sign of a hidden leak on your property. To be certain the spike is not caused by a seasonal change, you need to keep track of your water bills. Visit MyWaterTracker to review your past and current water use.
3. Property Damage
Oftentimes, customers suspect water leaks based on their properties appearance. If you run across the following signs, you most likely have a leak.
- Musty Odor
- Damp Drywall (figure 2)
- Dark Wall/Ceiling Stains
- Puddles/Runoff in Yard
How To Check For Leaks?
- Shut off the main water valve to your house.
- Locate your water meter and lift the cover to see the meter dial.
- Use a piece of tape or a grease pencil to mark the location of the sweep hand.
- Wait 20-30 minutes and check the sweep hand location again. If the sweep hand has moved, you possibly could have a leak somewhere in your system.
- You can also check the "flow" indicator to see if it’s moving.
- If the meter has moved when the water is shut off to the house, you have a leak somewhere outside of the house.
- If the meter has not moved when the water to the house is shut off, your leak is somewhere inside the house.
How to Find Leaks?
- Automatic Sprinkler Systems - Soft spots on your lawn and around the sprinkler indicate a leak that is being absorbed into the ground. Contact your plumber or landscape maintenance specialist if repairs are needed.
- Swimming Pool - Use a grease pencil to mark the level of your pool at the skimmer. Check it 24 hours later. Your pool should lose no more than 1/4 inch each day. Another leak possibility is the pool system’s shutoff valve, which works automatically and could be malfunctioning, causing a continuous cycle of water to be pumped in and then drained out. If the water level stays higher than normal and it overflows when people are using it, call your plumber.
- Service Connecting Line - If you find a soft, wet spot on your lawn or hear the sound of running water outside your house, you may a have leak in the service line to your house. Shut off the main shutoff valve. If the sound of running water continues, the outside service line could be leaking. Contact your plumber if you detect wet spots.
- Bathtubs and Showers - Check the spout and shower head for dripping water. A new washer may be all that’s needed. You may be able to do this repair yourself by unscrewing the faucet and replacing the washer with one of the same size. But before doing this repair, close your home’s main shut-off valve.
- Toilets - Your toilet may have a silent leak, or your toilet may sporadically run without flushing. Drop a little food coloring in the tank. Wait about 20 minutes without flushing. If color appears in the bowl, you have a leak.
- Dishwasher - Water accumulated on the floor near the unit could be a sign of a leak.
- Refrigerator Ice-Making Unit - A leak in the ice-making unit will cause excessive accumulations of ice in the freezer, and may produce small puddles of water under the refrigerator.
- Sinks and Other Faucets - Check for slower leaks by noting wetness in your sink basins. Make sure to look at every faucet in the house, even those that are rarely used.
- Washing Machine - If you see water on the floor near the machine, it’s a sign of a possible leak.