The average U.S. household uses an astonishing 10,000 gallons of water each and every month! What’s even more difficult to believe is that 10% of that usage is wasted water from unfound plumbing leaks and running toilets. That wasted percentage each month adds up to American households wasting over a trillion gallons of water every single year.
So, how can we locate and account for that water waste? Well, start by looking at your water bill. If you’ve seen an unexpected increase in your usage, then chances are pretty good that you have a leak somewhere within your system. Whether it’s a leak in a pipe under your house, in your yard irrigations system or leading directly to your water meter, the fact is that you have to be able to locate the problem before you can remedy the situation.
Where to Look for a Plumbing Leak
How to Check a Water Meter
The quickest way to find out if you have a leak in your plumbing system is to monitor your water meter. Here’s what you need to do:
- Step 1 – Turn Off the Water. You’ll need to make sure that no water is being used inside or outside of your home. Shut it all off. This includes yard irrigation systems, toilets, dishwashers, washing machines, faucets, icemakers, etc.
- Step 2 – Check the Flow Indicator. Once the water is shut off, open the cover on your water meter, and look for a flow indicator. It’s a small rotating wheel on the meter that’s used to detect even the slightest amounts of water flow. If this indicator is moving, then you have a leak somewhere within your system.
How to Read a Water Meter
To determine the amount of water that’s leaking in your system, you’ll need to write down the numbers that appear on your meter along with the number on the hand of the rotary dial. Then wait. After an hour passes, check your meter again, and write down any changes in the numbers or dials.
Now, water meter readings will either be in gallons or cubic feet, so you may have to do some conversions. You can do so with the understanding that one cubic foot equals 7.48 gallons. Then, to convert cubic feet into gallons simply multiply the number of cubic feet by 7.48 (e.g. 5 cubic feet translates to 5 x 7.48). Then, to find out how much water is leaking in a given month, multiply the amount of water used in an hour by 730 hours (e.g. 5 gallons per hour leaked translates to 5 x 730 = your gallons per month lost).
What to Do If You Have a Leak
Once you’ve checked your meter and have confirmed that there is in fact a leak within your plumbing system, here’s what you should do to locate the source:
- If it’s a yard leak – Start by keeping an eye on your yard between the outside meter and your house. Do so on dry days when there have been no signs of weather. To locate the leak, look for signs of a soft or muddy spot in your yard. A leak may also present as a greener patch of grass, as it’s being over-saturated.
- If it’s a crawlspace leak – Check all nooks and crannies of the crawlspace under your house. Pipes in these spaces are often buried with ground covered in plastic sheeting, so a leak might be harder to spot. Again, look for muddy areas or signs of excess condensation under the plastic sheeting.
- If it’s a slab leak – If the leak is in or under a concrete slab around your house, your Tritan plumber will need to completely disconnect the damaged pipe. An alternate solution will be installed in another area of your home.
These are the necessary steps to take if your water meter indicates a leak. If, however, your meter does not indicate a leak, then you’ll need to contact your water company. They will have to come out and check the meter themselves to be sure that it is working properly.
If you have any questions at all concerning a possible leak within your plumbing system, don’t hesitate to call us here at Tritan Plumbing. And remember, it’s always a good idea to check the flow indicator on your water meter from time-to-time even if you don’t notice any changes to your water bill. After all, it’s better to play it safe than sorry.