Leaks can happen at any time, although there are certain causes that are more likely than others. Properly caring for your pipes is the best way to prevent leaks, however if you do get one there are a number of steps you can take to both find it and fix it quickly. Click on the links below to learn more.
How can I confirm that I have a leak?
The easiest way to determine if you have a leak is to shut off all water-using appliances, faucets and outside watering tools (do not shut off the main water line to your home), and then check to see if the flow indicator on your water meter has completely stopped moving. If you’re sure no water is being used inside or outside the home, and the indicator continues to move, you've probably got a leak somewhere. In rare instances your water meter may be faulty, but it’s unlikely.
At that point, you will need to determine where the leak is coming from.
To test whether a toilet has a leak, you can purchase toilet tank leak detector tablets, but it's simpler just to place a few drops of food coloring in the holding tank. Wait 5 minutes (don’t flush the toilet), and if any coloring appears in the toilet bowl, you've got a leak.
Check all of your faucets to see if they are dripping – be sure to check under the sink as well!
If it’s not your faucet or toilet, the next most likely culprit is your irrigation system. Look at your lawn. If you find wet spots or pools of water around your spray heads, you've probably found your irrigation system leak. Also, brown spots and boggy spots can help pinpoint problems. If you have a layout of your irrigation system, start by tracking the lines to recognize trouble spots.
How do I read a water meter?
There are three basic parts to a water meter:
- The dial, which rotates when water passes through the meter as it records either cubic feet or gallons of water used. With meters that read in cubic feet, one full rotation of the dial equals 1 cubic foot of water or 7.48 gallons. For those meters that read by the gallon, it works the same but is measuring in gallons.
- The odometer, which records the total amount of water usage. The digit from the furthest right number represents the smallest number of units (cubic feet or gallons). The second digit to the right is 10 cubic feet (or 10 gallons), and the third to the right represents the 100s of cubic feet or gallons, and so on.
- The flow indicator, or little triangle. If you’re sure no water is being used inside or outside the home, and the indicator continues to move, you've probably got a leak somewhere.
The American Water Works Association offers tips on how to protect your home's water quality.
Source: American Water Works Association