DIY Leak Detection

Sometimes a leak is obvious, and no sleuthing is required.

Sometimes a leak is obvious, and no sleuthing is required.

Undetected water leaks can quickly evolve into a disaster and cost homeowners thousands of dollars in water damage restoration costs.  A higher-than-normal water bill can also cause a homeowner a great deal of stress.  Here are some important steps to take when charges and usage on your monthly utility bill seem unreasonably high or are much higher than the previous months. There could be an undetected leak somewhere in your home or on your property, and a few minutes of effort could help you detect it before it spirals into a serious water damage or mold situation.

Your Habits

First, take an honest look at your personal habits.  Are you taking longer showers (the cold winter months sometimes invite longer than usual sauna-type showers)?  Are there more people in the home since last month?  Have you added a pool or other water source such as a hot tub, small pond, or fountain?  Even filling and refilling a child’s pool can make your water usage spike.  How many loads of laundry are you doing each day?  If you wash several small loads, you may want to think about combining them.

At the Water Meter

Next, check your water meter.  Turn off all the taps and water sources inside and outside of your home.  On your water meter, there is usually some type of arrow or triangle shape that will move or spin if there is water passing through the meter to your home.  If everything is turned off and the arrow is moving, then that is a sure indicator that you have a water leak in your home or on your property.

In the House

Check for leaks and drips inside your home.  Even the slightest drip from a faucet or showerhead can lead to a higher water bill.  Be sure to check the pipes under the sink for leaks as well.  Even if your toilet is not making any noises, it may still have a small leak. Place a few drops of food coloring in the toilet tank.  If the water in the bowl changes color, then you have a leak in your toilet.  Sources you may not think of include your hot water heater, the water source to a refrigerator with an ice maker, and even a reverse osmosis system.  Sometimes the only indication of a leak is a musty odor.

This leak was virtually undetectable from inside the house except for a worstening musty odor.

This leak was virtually undetectable from inside the house except for a worstening musty odor.

Underground irrigation pipes can crack and burst, creating hefty water bills.

Underground irrigation pipes can crack and burst, creating hefty water bills.

Outdoors
 
Leaky irrigation systems can be big culprits in higher water consumption.  Check all sprinkler heads and drip lines and valves.  Look for pooled water and holes or depressions in the ground.  These are tell-tale signs that there may be a leak below the ground.  Outdoor faucets and bibs should be checked for leaks as well.  If the ground below the faucet feels damp or wet, then you can bet it is leaking.  Don’t forget to check the irrigation timer.  You may need to make some adjustments to the number of times per day and week you are watering your lawn and plants; including the duration.  Check the irrigation box.  If it fills with water when you are running the irrigation system, you have a leak.

Most city utility companies will provide service up to and including your meter.  Anything beyond the meter becomes the responsibility of the homeowner.  If you find that you do have a leak or even water damage in or around your home,  it is best not to make it a do-it-yourself project.  If you call us, we can help.