JUMP IN YOUR WATER BILL? HOW TO CHECK YOUR HOME FOR LEAKS.
If you just received an usually high water bill and have reason to believe there’s a leak in your home or on your property, you may need to call a leak detection specialist to get to the bottom of the problem. But there are still some steps you can take to make sure you’re property’s not at risk. You may even be able to identify and resolve the problem yourself if you know what to look for.
Checking for Leaks Inside the Home
The first place to check for leaks is inside the home. Make a thorough check of every faucet, toilet, tub, shower and anywhere else that supplies running water. Look for wet spots or signs of water damage. If you spot a leak, try to identify exactly where it’s coming from, and if necessary, shut off the house water and call a plumber for help. Keep in mind that even small leaks can account for higher-than-normal water usage over a period of time.
Faucets are the first place to check. They can leak from various points – the spout, handles, supply lines and emergency shut off valves are all common leak areas. Sometimes leaks originate from within the faucet body and cannot be repaired.
Moisture in the cabinet below the sink or on the floor nearby, as well as any kind of corrosion, mineral buildup or moisture damage on the faucet is a sign that there’s a leak somewhere in area.
Toilets have several points from which water can leak. The most common is the water supply line that runs between the shutoff valve and toilet tank, or from the toilet tank itself. In either case, there will probably be water in the area, pooled behind the toilet or somewhere nearby.
Sometimes toilets leak internally – water can seep through the flapper or flush valve into the toilet bowl, or water may be running down the overflow drain if the fill valve fails to shutoff correctly. A toilet that constantly runs or refills itself should be checked carefully for leaks and repaired.
A leaking water heater can go through a lot of water if the problem goes unnoticed. If your water heater is leaking, chances are it will be easy to spot. There will probably be a large amount of water streaming from the water heater and pooling up in the area. If it’s a supply line leaking, water could be collecting on top of the water heater, in the water heater pan or on the water heater stand.
If you notice any moisture, water damage or corrosion on or around your water heater, you should have it inspected by a professional plumber as soon as possible to avoid further problems.
Ice Makers and Laundry Valves
Ice maker boxes and laundry valves are commonly overlooked during leak detection. Water could be leaking from supply lines, connections, or from the shut off valves themselves. Look for pooling water around the refrigerator or in the laundry area and carefully inspect all supply lines and shutoff valves. You may need to move your appliances to gain access.
Old, corroded and non-functioning shutoff valves should be replaced as soon as possible, as well as any supply lines or hoses that show signs of water damage or corrosion.
Checking for Leaks Outside the Home
Once you’ve thoroughly checked your homes plumbing fixtures and appliances for leaks, it’s time to move outside the house for further inspection. Higher than normal water bills are often caused by a cracked or broken water service line or leaking irrigation lines. Such leaks can be difficult to identify without professional leak detection equipment, but it helps to have a look around the property to make sure there are no immediate concerns or repairs you can make on your own.
One of the most common areas for outside leaks to occur is on or near the water meter. Check your water meter box for standing water or trapped moisture. If there’s a large amount of water inside the box, you’ll have to shut off service to the house and either pump or bale the water from the meter box to reveal the leaking section. Most repairs in this area require a professional plumber to make the repair.
Irrigation systems or another common area to find leaks. Some irrigation leaks are hard to detect, but many are easy to spot because the amount of moisture residing in the area. If you have a planter box or any section of lawn that seems to stay excessively moist, there may be a leak in a nearby sprinkler or branch line. Try to isolate the system section by section, if possible, to determine the exact location of the leak. Sometimes a broken sprinkler head is causing the problem and can be easily spotted and repaired.
It’s not unusual for outside hose bibs to leak. They may only leak when the hose bib us turned on, but sometimes they don’t shutoff all the way and leak continuously. This may be somewhat unnoticeable if there’s a hose attached to the bib, so be sure to disconnect any hoses prior to inspection. If the hose bib leaks at all it should be replaced as soon as possible.
Water Service and Slab Leaks
If there are no noticeable leaks around the property, and you’re quite certain there is a leak, the problem may be with your main service line or another line running the beneath the slab. It’s difficult to determine these kinds of leaks without the help of a professional, but there are some signs to look for.
If there are any unusually soft, muddy or moist areas in your lawn or anywhere around the property, there may be a leak on the main service line. If there’s water coming up from beneath the driveway or nearby walkway, there may be a leak under the foundation. In either case you’ll need to an experienced plumber to locate the leak and make the necessary repairs.
Routinely inspecting your home and property for leaks will not only help you avoid floods, water damage and costly water bills, it will familiarize you with your home plumbing system and all its various components. It’s the one way to make sure everything is working properly, without having to pay for professional services.
More importantly, it will give you peace of mind and help you avoid costly plumbing repairs down the road.