City of Abilene

Tips for Detecting a Water Leak

Water leaks can be very expensive. Most customers don’t realize they have water leaks until they receive a large bill. The best way to save yourself from the surprise, expense, and potential damage of a long-standing leak is to regularly check your water meter to keep tabs on water usage.

Your meter is located on your property, under a metal cover. Once opened, you may see a smaller round cover.  When lifted, the meter face will be revealed. There should be an indicator on the meter (a small triangle, arrow, wheel, or asterisk) to signal a steady leak. If you have turned off all of the water sources in your home and lawn and the indicator is moving, then it is very likely you have a leak.

If you suspect a leak, you can call the plumber, but first you may want to find the leak and see if it is something you can fix yourself. Even if you can’t, you’ve saved time and money by identifying where it is.

Look around the perimeter of you home. Walk around your home and yard and look for signs of a leak. These include finding soft muddy areas, or a patch of grass that is greener or taller than other areas.

Look for sprinkler leaks. It’s a good idea to inspect your irrigation system at the beginning of each watering season. Turn on one zone at a time. First, check sprinkler heads throughout the zone. If any are broken, it’s an easy fix to replace the head. Then survey for running water, bubbling from the ground, wet spots or pooling of water. If you see this and suspect a water leak, turn off the main sprinkler system valve and call the plumber.

Check inside faucets, outside spigots, and shower heads. Faucet leaks are generally due to a worn rubber washer, which tends to be an easy and inexpensive repair.

Check your toilets. A repeatedly refilling toilet alone can easily double your monthly water bill. If you can’t hear a leak, the best way to determine if there is one by removing the back of the tank, adding a couple drops of food coloring and waiting 30 minutes. If there is color in the toilet bowl when you check back, then you have a leak. This too is a very simple and inexpensive repair.

Check the hot water tank. The best way to check the pressure relief valve on the hot water tank is to listen for a hissing sound.  If the sound is present it may be leaking.

Of course, there are other types of leaks that are harder to identify. If you are able to pin down the approximate location, it is a great starting point for a plumber and will ultimately save time and expense.