Finding leaks in your home’s water system isn’t always easy. Of course, you may luck out and spot a leaking pipe leading in from your hot water heater, or you might notice water under the kitchen sink and determine that the problem is the drain, but what if the leak occurs outside the house? These are much harder to spot. If you’ve checked your home thoroughly and found no leaks, but your water bill is still climbing, the culprit might be an outdoor water leak. Here are a few tips to help you find the problem.
Check the Meter
First things first. Turn off all the water in the house. Make sure the washing machine isn’t running, that the dishwasher is off, that no one is in the shower, and make sure no one uses the bathroom. Now, go outside the home and find your meter. Flip open the cover and locate the gauge on the dial. There should be a red triangular needle. It’s supposed to spin when water is being used. If you see it moving, but no water is being used in the house, then chances are good that you have an external pipe leak somewhere.
Note that you should turn the water off to the house, and then check the dial again. If it is still moving, you can be sure that the cause isn’t a leaking toilet flapper allowing water to run inside. You’ve definitely got an outdoor leak. The challenge is to figure out where. However, this might not be enough to locate smaller leaks in the system.
Water in the Supply Box
Check the supply box (where the meter is located) for water. While this could be left over from a recent rain, it could also be a sign that water is leaking from the supply pipe and then running back to the box. If it hasn’t rained in some time, chances are good this is a sign of a leak and not just rainwater accumulation.
Look for Wet Spots
These can be tough to spot as well, but look for spots in your yard between the water meter and your home that seem to stay damp, even though it hasn’t rained. During the summer months, these might appear as lush grass growth while everything else is brown and dying (although this can also occur over a septic system leach field).
Work with a Pro
Perhaps the best way to find an outdoor water leak is to work with a professional. Underground leak detection equipment can actually pinpoint the source of a water leak even if it’s buried under several feet of dirt. This can help you avoid hours of poking and prodding, not to mention fruitless digging to find the source of the leak.
With a little bit of persistence, you should be able to find signs of an outdoor leak, but a professional can speed things up a great deal.