Being a homeowner we run into all kinds of new experiences that we may never have provided much thought to until it happens, the dreaded, elusive underground drinking water pipe leak.
The water bill occurs and the consumption is higher than regular. In looking at the bill you understand it’s winter time, your water intake is down, but the bill says it is up as if its summertime when your water consumption is higher. Then it hits you, a drinking water leak! At some point almost all homeowners come across this problem.
There are a few things you can do prior to contacting your water department and a local plumber.
Make sure no one is using any water, and shut off the ice creator, then go out and look at your water meter. Does your meter have a small flywheel on it; is it or any section of it moving? This is a good indication that there may be a leak. If your meter has several dials on it, take note in which the needle is at on each one. Leave the water off for 30 minutes plus check back and note where each needle is pointing. If any needle has moved, this is an indicator of a leak.
Next check your toilet, is it running? Look in the container and verify the water is below the over flow value. Put a little food coloring in the tank and let it sit for at least an hour. After an hour check the toilet bowl, is the water colored, if so the tank is leaking into the bowl. That could be the leak.
If its not leaking, check all the faucets and verify they’re not really leaking. Check all visible drinking water lines, look under the sinks, the water heater, the refrigerator and snow maker line, behind and under the washer, and verify they’re not really leaking. Check the outside hose bib faucets and verify they’re not really leaking. If you have a crawl space under your house, check and ensure it is dry and no pipes are usually leaking.
Walk around outside and look for any obvious puddles or pools associated with water that aren’t usually there. Check for mushy areas.
Now call the water department and explain your own water bill shows your usage is up and a dial on the meter is moving when all the drinking water in the house is turned off. They will then ask if you did all of the over. If they don’t offer to put in a work order to check your meter, ask them to come out and confirm your meter is working correctly which you really have a leak.
When the drinking water company inspects the meter they are going to confirm whether it’s working properly and if there is a water leak. They should be capable of tell you if it’s a slow leak and safe to wait until the ground will be dry before finding and repairing it or if it needs to be fixed immediately.
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If your ground is saturated with water or snow in the winter, it may be difficult to find the leak right away. This could cause more complications.
Ask the water company for suggestions on how to find a leak in the underground water pipe. One suggestion they will provided is to poke a steel rod into the ground along the underground water line. If the rod is definitely glistening when it comes out of the ground, you might have found the leak. If the pole is just damp its probably surface water.