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With drought affecting many parts of the globe, we are reminded of what a precious resource water is. The average American household typically uses about 10,000 gallons of water each month. People consume much more water in summer than in winter. Water flows freely during the hot months as people use it to keep their lawns and gardens alive on scorching days. About 10 percent of water goes to waste in American households due to running toilets and plumbing leaks.

Checking for Plumbing Leaks

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If you ever notice a spike in the water bill that is not consistent with your consumption, take note. You may have a plumbing leak somewhere in your house or yard.

The best way to check for plumbing leaks is by monitoring your water meter. You can do this by:

  • Turning off all water inside and outside your home. Turn off your lawn irrigation system, washers, icemakers, faucets, including the automatic backflow in the home filters.
  • Opening your water meter and checking your water flow indicator. The indicator is a small rotating wheel on the water meter that detects even the slightest water flow. If the water indicator is moving when all the water in the house and yard has been turned off, you likely have a plumbing leak somewhere.
  • Observing the meter reading. If you are not sure about the water flow indicator, defer to the meter reading. Check it at one-hour intervals, jotting down the results each time. If the readings increase, there is likely a plumbing leak in the house or yard.

Checking for Leaks

Leaks can lurk in hard-to-explore places. You can check for leaks in the yard by examining the outdoor pipes. If there are wet spots and the weather is dry, there is likely a leak. Check the crawl space under your house for any moist spots. Pipes in crawl spaces might be covered by soil or by plastic sheeting, so it takes some effort to examine them. There could also be a leak in or under concrete slabs.

If there doesn’t seem to be a leak, you could have a faulty water meter. Contact your water company for an inspection. Your pocketbook will thank you as your water bill gets back to normal.