When it comes to finding water leaks in a homes plumbing system, unless the water leak is visible to the naked eye, specialized equipment is typically necessary to pinpoint it’s location. Short of spending tens of thousands of dollars on high powered listening devices, hiring a local leak detection company is the only option. However, if we are talking about first figuring out if a leak is present that might need locating there are several things any homeowner can do on their own to answer this question.
The first option is to check your home’s water meter.
Step 1A: Make sure no water is being used either inside or outside of the home. Turn off all outdoor faucets, close all indoor taps, and make sure washing machines and dishwashers are not in use.
Step 2A: Locate your home’s water meter. Monitor it for a 2-3 minutes at minimum and see if the dial on the meter is moving. If it is then you have now gotten confirmation of a hidden water leak in your home.
Notes: Sometimes with smaller leaks the dial may not move in such a short time. Sometimes it may take up to 2-3 hours to notice a change in the meters dial. You do not have to stare at the meter for 3 hours. Simply make a note of the meters reading, come back to the meter in a few hours and if the dial has moved, bingo, you’ve identified a potential plumbing leak.
After making the determination that your home has a plumbing leak, the next step is to figure out it’s location. Is the leak coming from inside or outside the home?
Step 1B: To figure out if the leak is indoors or outside you will next need to locate your home’s shut off valve. Shut off valves are typically located in basements, garages, or outside near outdoor faucets. Once located, turn the valve to off.
Step 2: Check the leak indicator for any movement or you may use the meter reading method outlined in Step 1A. Make sure that your home does not use any water during this period or a false positive reading can occur. If you have already completed Step 1A, and there is no change in the meter readings, the leak is inside your home. If the leak indicator continues to move or if there is any change at all in the meter readings, the leak located outside of the home, between the meter and the house.
Notes: Regardless of the preliminary of the water leak, locating it’s precise location is still necessary to minimize damage, stop water loss, and repair the leaking pipe.
Locating Water Leaks Underground
Sight & Feel
The first step in locating underground water leaks that may exist in or around your home is to look and feel for wet or soggy areas of your property.
This can be wet patches on carpets or flooring and soggy areas of lawn in your yard. Even wet areas of concrete that are not located next to a faucet. Keep an eye out for cracks in sidewalks & driveways, water pooling up around these areas are indicative of a slab leak.
Indoors: Special attention should be given to wet carpet or flooring indoors, wet baseboards and walls.
Outdoors: Keep an eye out for puddles that never seem to dry & excessively green areas in your yard.