Water Leaks 101
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), one in every 10 homes has leaks that waste at least 90 gallons of water per day. Across the country, we are wasting about one trillion gallons every year – just from minor water leaks.
Every home is going to get a water leak at some point, which is going to increase your water bill, possibly result in a fine, and, of course, waste water. So, let’s go over some basic questions about water leaks to help you identify and handle a leak quickly.
Whose responsibility is it to repair a leak?
If the leak is at the street, it might be on the water company’s side of the meter, so you will need to call your water company right away so that they can assess the situation and complete a repair. If the leak is on your side of the meter, it is your responsibility to repair it.
How do I know if I have a water leak?
If you see standing water in an area where standing water shouldn’t be or an active drip coming from a faucet, this is an obvious indicator that you might have a leak. This also helps you quickly pinpoint the location of the leak so that you can address it right away.
It would be great if all leaks were this easy to identify and find, but most are not. Sometimes, you may not see any indication of a water leak until you see an increase in your water bill.
If you suspect a water leak, one way you can check is to turn all of the water off in your house and on your property. Then, go to your water meter and look for the low-flow indicator. If the low-flow indicator is spinning when all of the water is turned off, you have a leak.
What do I do if I have a water leak?
The easiest thing to do is to turn off the water and call your plumber or landscaper so they can come find it and repair it.
If you have a serious leak, do not wait for your plumber or landscaper to arrive. Turn the water off as soon as possible. This is easiest if you have a customer service valve, which is located on your side of the meter and allows you to turn off the water to your entire property. If you do not have a customer service valve, I recommend installing one.
For smaller leaks, you may be able to locate the leak and turn off the water just to that area.
If your meter is spinning but you do not see standing water, start with your irrigation system. When one of my clients has a leak, it is almost always in their irrigation lines. Turn on all of the zones and walk your property to look for leaking sprinkler heads or drip lines. When you find it, turn off the valve going to that area until you can get the leak repaired.
If the culprit is a leaky faucet or toilet, turn the water supply off at that location. This allows you to continue to use the water in the rest of your house while stopping the leak until you (or a handyman or plumber) can repair it.
You may also locate interior water leaks by listening for water dripping or looking for wet spots in drywall or inside cabinets. If you hear water trickling in the walls or find moist, soft spots in your wall or ceiling, turn off the water going into your house until you can arrange for a repair.
AimeeJo Davis-Varela is a freelance writer specializing in real estate, sustainable home improvement, eco-friendly landscaping, green living and travel writing. She is also the owner of Mind Your Manors, which provides second home management services.
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