Finding water leaks or pipe breaks an usually be accomplished using a few simple sleuthing tools.
Read Your Utility Bill
Check your water bill for unusually high use. If you notice an unexplainable increase in water use or your bill spikes after freezing weather, there's a good chance you might have a leak or a break in a water pipe.
Check Your Water Meter
If you suspect a leak, your water meter can help confirm your suspicion. Make sure all faucets and water-using appliances like dishwashers and sprinklers are turned off and do not use any water during the test.
- Quick test:
- With all water turned off, watch your meter.
- If your water meter flow indicator numbers change (or indicator dial spins) when all water is turned off, this usually indicates a leak. Large leaks will show heavy flow.
- Longer test for smaller leaks:
- Write down the numbers on your water meter.
- Do not use water for an hour.
- Check the meter after an hour and note any change in the numbers. If the numbers have changed, you probably have a leak.
Locate a Leak
Finding the location of your leak may involve some additional detective work. Remember to check both outdoors and indoors if you are unsure where a leak may be. Some water leaks can be especially hard to detect because they occur in underground pipes.
- Look for leaks where your hose connects to the hose bib or along your garden hose.
- If you have an automatic sprinkler system or drip irrigation system, look for soggy soil around sprinkler heads after running your sprinkler systems.
- Turn on your automatic irrigation system to check for broken sprinkler heads and pipes.
- Looks for soggy areas that could indicate a leak in a sprinkler system pipe or drip irrigation tubes.
- Watch for faucets that drip.
- Look for faucet gaskets or pipe fittings with water on the outside of the pipe.
- Listen for toilets that run after you've flushed them, when no one has recently flushed them, or in the middle of the night.
Check toilets for leaks
- Take the lid off of the tank, flush and watch.
- The water level should come up to the mark impressed into the side of the tank or about 1 inch below the overflow tube. If it comes up higher, it's easy for water to continuously overflow and run down the drain. If necessary, bend the arm of the float arm down so that the re-fill valve shuts off at that water level. If the re-fill valve itself leaks, you may want to work with a plumber.
- Check to see if you have a leak in or around the flapper at the bottom of the tank by putting a little food coloring in the tank.
- Don't flush and wait to see if any color appears in the bowl. If it does, you probably have a leak at the flapper valve on the bottom of the tank. Flapper leaks can be caused by a worn flapper (easily replaced) or by a corroded flapper valve seat, which may need to be replaced by a plumber. If you replace the flapper, make sure you buy the right one for your toilet because the wrong flapper model may also leak.
- After 15 minutes flush the toilet to get rid of the food coloring.
A silent toilet leak, often caused by a flapper that does not close completely, can waste 50 to 500 gallons of water per day. A silent toilet leak that wastes 250 gallons of water a day would cost a DuPont resident more than $40 per month in water and sewer charges.