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It is possible to detect leaks in your home on your own. Most water leaks can be seen or heard, but there are times when the leak can be hard to detect.
Check your water bill each month. Your water bill will compare water usage from the current month to the corresponding month of the previous year. For example, on your May 2014 utility bill you would see water usage from May 2014 and water usage from May 2013. Check your bill to see if your usage is in a similar range. If you see a significant difference and haven't changed your water use habits you may want to check for a leak.
Locating your meter
If you have sidewalks and curbs in front of your home your meter will most likely be located within the sidewalk. Please note, the meter lids do vary and your lid may look different than your neighbor's.
However, in older neighborhoods or neighborhoods without sidewalks and curbs the meter may be located within the front yard. In yards that have landscaping up to the street it may be more of a challenge to locate your meter as it may be hidden by shrubs or plants. It is important to know the location of your meter and keep landscaping around the meter maintained to ensure easy access.
Checking for a leak and isolating the location
Pinpointing where a leak might be located can help save money and time with regards to plumber fees. Fixing the problem helps conserve water and save money on your bill.
Steps to determine if you have a leak
1. Turn off all water sources being used in the house or any water features in your yard. Locate the water meter on your property.
2. Remove the meter box lid (small metal door on most meters). Locate the red triangle on the face of the water meter. If your meter does not have a red triangle, make note of the location of the needle on the meter.
3. Check to see if the red triangle has moved after one minute, or the needle has moved after five minutes.
If you have all the water off in the house/yard and the red triangle is spinning or after five minutes the needle has moved, a leak is present somewhere on the property side of the meter. Also, if you still feel that you might have a leak, you can look at the meter when you go to bed and then look first thing in the morning (making sure no one uses water in that time). If you have a bad leak it can be seen pretty fast. If it is a smaller leak, like a small leak in the toilet, it may take more time to see it on the meter.
Isolating the location of the leak
- Turn off the water valve at the house and at the backflow device for irrigation/sprinkler system (if present).
- If the red triangle/needle is turning there is a leak in the service line (line from the meter to the house valve).
- If the red triangle/needle is not moving turn the backflow device back on and check the meter again. If the red triangle/needle is turning there is a leak in the irrigation/sprinkler system.
- If the triangle/needle is not spinning at this point, turn the backflow device off and turn the water valve at the house back on. If the triangle/needle is spinning there is a leak in the house.
When your investigation is complete, turn on the water valve at the house and at the backflow device to restore water to your home.
Looking and listening for leaks in and around your home
Check your house for leaking toilets (e.g. a toilet flapper not tightly fitted), faucets dripping, look under sinks/fixtures and in crawl spaces. You may also want to check your outdoor faucets and hose connections for leaks and examine any outdoor water features for drips. Inspect pipes for pinhole leaks, leaking joints, etc. Check around your house for puddles of water or investigate your property for soft spots. Listen for the leak. In pipes with 30 PSI or higher water pressure, there may be a “Hiss” or “Whoosh” sound indicating a leak may be present.
If you determine there is a leak in your plumbing
If you have followed the procedures above and you determined you have a leak in your plumbing, you can make the repairs yourself or contact a plumber to make the repairs for you. If you have determined you have a leak and are having difficulty locating the leak within your property, you can contact a private leak detection company to assist you in locating the leak. Both plumbers and leak detection companies can be found in your local phone or web directory.
Getting your water turned off
If you have a scheduled plumbing repair or have an emergency water leak during normal business hours (7:00am-3:30pm) please call 503-656-6081. Please note that we do not have the capacity to provide immediate shut-off services for non-emergencies. Please inform us ahead of time if you have a scheduled plumbing repair. If you have an emergency water leak after normal business hours and you need assistance please call LOCOM non-emergency dispatch at 503-635-0238.