Small leaks and drips can add up fast. For an average Phoenix home using 9,000 gallons of water a month, a dripping faucet can cost over $10 a month. If that leak worsens to a dribbling, steady stream, the cost can rise to between $50 and $100 each month in wasted water. Have a worn-out or defective toilet flapper that keeps your toilet constantly running? Expect to spend another $50 to $100.
Your costs skyrocket when you’re wasting hot water. Water, heating and wastewater costs for a small steady stream of hot water, at just a quarter of a gallon per minute, can cost over $200 a month. Keep putting off the repair, and you’ll waste $2,400 in a year.
If you are concerned about a larger than normal water bill you may want to perform a leak detection inspection. To detect the leak, simply follow our 8 steps below.
First, turn off all water-using appliances so that no water is being used. This means turning off all water inside and outside of the house including showers, sinks, washing machines, ice makers and any other appliances that may use water. If you have an automatic irrigation system, turn off the controller.
Now locate your meter box. It is generally located near the sidewalk in front of your home in a direct line with the main outside faucet.
Carefully remove the meter box lid by using a tool such as a large screwdriver. Most meters use a straight-reading dial which is read similar to a car’s odometer. The meter measures water use in thousands of gallons.
The small pointer or dial near the center of the meter is the flow indicator and should be still if you are not using any water inside or outside the home. If the flow indicator is moving, you may have a leak.
If there is no indicator and the actual meter dial hand is moving, water is running somewhere in your system and you have a leak – go to step 4.
If the hand is not moving, note the position of the hand and wait 10 minutes. Check the meter again; if it has moved, you have a slow leak – go to step 4.
If no movement is recorded, you probably don’t have a leak but note that the meter may not be able to detect leaks in irrigation systems or pools.
To isolate the leak, turn the water off to your house. Your home’s valve is usually located under the outside faucet near the front of the house. With all water turned off in the house, there should be no movement of the small pointer or any of the dials on the meter.
If the leak indicator or dial is still moving, water is flowing between the meter and the shut-off valve. That means you could have a leak between the meter and the valve where water enters your home. This is called the “service line.”
Consider that movement in your meter can also be caused by things like a leaky irrigation valve, automatic pool filler, or an evaporative cooler.
Check your irrigation system. If you have leaks in your irrigation system, they may not be noticeable unless your system is running. Turn your controller on manually and walk your property looking for broken sprinkler heads, missing emitters (which will produce small streams of water) or breaks in irrigation piping or tubing. Check for leaks inside the house including toilets, washing machines, faucets, etc.
To check a toilet for a common leak issue: Add 2 or 3 drops of food coloring to the water in the reservoir or tank. Wait 15-30 minutes. If the water in the bowl changes colors, the rubber flapper needs to be replaced.
You’ve just completed a leak detection inspection. If you have determined that a leak exists, call a plumbing expert like Plumbing Masters to help you repair the leak. Finishing all these steps will help the plumber get started on fixing your problems faster!