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How To Test for Water Leaks

Do you know if your plumbing system is leaking water? If you have water pooling, hear a drip or hear your toilet running, then you know water is being wasted. But what about the plumbing lines underground or in other places where you might not notice? Testing your water supply system is easy to do and can save you money by fixing leaks.

The first step is to turn off all water using appliances. Make sure your dishwasher and washing machine are off. Turn off all faucets, the sprinkler system, and don't flush any toilets. Don't forget to turn off your automatic ice maker.

Next, locate the water meter for your home. In most cases it will be an in-ground box, near the street. If you can't find it, call your water department and ask them where to look.

Once you find the meter, open the cover and look for the meter with numbers on it. It may be under a little metal or plastic lid (like a pocket watch). Write down the numbers. Also, look for a little triangle (often red) or small dial. This indicator moves whenever water is flowing and will move even when a small amount of water is flowing.

Wait at least 30 minutes, even better a couple hours and remember - don't use any water including flushing a toilet, then check the numbers on the meter. If the numbers have changed, water is flowing somewhere and probably being wasted.

Isolating the leak can be done with some detective work. The first step is to turn off the water supply to the home. Nearly all homes have a shut off at the meter, but shutting off at the meter won't help. Most homes have a second shut-off, typically located just outside the home near a hose bib or possibly inside in a utility area. Turn off the water and note the meter reading. Check again in couple of hours. If the numbers have changed, the leak is almost certainly in the underground water line between the meter the house.

Once you have ruled out the main supply line, turn on the water supply again. Go around the house and turn off the water supply valves to toilets, sinks and appliances then check the meter again. If the meter didn't change, then one of those services is leaking water and you can turn each one on one-at-a-time until you find the culprit. If the meter did change, it could be your yard irrigation system, a leaking pipe somewhere around your home or something such as an automatic pool refilling system, fountain or another similar water using device.

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