Finding and Fixing Hidden Leaks
You know you have a leak when your faucet drips, but do you know how to find a hidden leak? Finding and fixing leaks can save as much as 11,000 gallons of wasted water per year and more than 10 percent on water bills.
If you suspect you have a phantom water waster in your home, follow these tips to find the culprit. But first, make sure no water is being used inside or outside of your home.
- Turn off the Water before you look for leaks, make sure no water is being used inside or outside of your home.
- Locate your water meter about 90 percent of all area residential water meters are located in the front sidewalk. The first step is to check your water meter for movement. Look at the top of the meter. You'll notice a red or white triangle or pinwheel called a flow indicator. The flow indicator will move whenever water is passing through it. If your meter doesn't have a flow indicator, you can use the sweep hand on the register to indicate water loss. If either the flow indicator or the sweep hand is moving, you may have a leak or malfunction.
Check Your Toilets The most common cause of leaks are toilets. Replacing worn
rubber toilet flappers usually corrects the problem. To test for a toilet leak,
place a drop of food coloring in the toilet tank. If the color shows up in the
bowl within 5 minutes without flushing, you have a leak. Check our toilet leaks
page for more information.
Check Your Irrigation System Shut off the anti-siphon valve that serves your
sprinkler system. Check the flow indicator at the water meter. If the flow
indicator stopped moving, the sprinkler system is the problem.
- Check Your Water Softener Most softeners have a bypass lever. Turn the lever to allow water to bypass the softener. Check the flow indicator at the meter. If the flow indicator is no longer moving, you have isolated the leak to your softener. (You also can check for leaking swamp coolers, water-cooled air conditioners, ice machines and reverse osmosis units by turning the bypass lever on each and checking the meter.)
- Check Your Pool First turn off the automatic fill valve and place a bucket on a step where the bucket rim is at least a few inches above the water line. Then place a heavy weight in the bucket and add water until the water level inside the bucket is equal with the water level in the pool. Leave the bucket and pool undisturbed for several hot days, then compare the water level in the bucket to the water level in the pool. If the water level in the bucket is noticeably higher than the water level in the pool, you may be losing water to a leak. If this is the case, contact a pool leak detection specialist for further assistance.
- Check Your Main Service Line First, you need to find your water shutoff valve. This is usually in your front yard near the sewer riser cap, in your garage or near your water softener unit. Shut off the valve, cutting off all water to your home, and go in the house and turn on a faucet to make sure the water is off. Check the flow indicator at the meter. If the flow indicator is moving, the leak is between the shutoff valve and the water meter.
- Now What? First, close the water meter cap to prevent damage to the lens and replace the meter box lid. If you are not able to find the leak, you may want to consider contacting a professional plumber to locate and fix the leak(s). If you find a simple leak like your toilet flapper or kitchen faucet, you may want to fix the problem yourself.