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How you can tell if your water line is leaking

Not only can a leaky water line make your monthly water bill skyrocket, but it can also cause some real structural damage to your home. For these reasons, diagnosing whether you have a leak somewhere in your water line - and what you can do to fix it - is a vital skill for homeowners.

This article will teach you how to tell if your water line is leaking, as well as give you information about how to address a leaky water line if you do have one.

The telltale signs of a leaky water line

  • Listen to your house. In most cases, you'll hear a leaky water line before you can see it. If your pipes are making an inordinate amount of sound at night or they sound like they're having difficulty pushing water, start looking for other signs of a leaky water line.
  • Check for soggy spots in the lawn. Often, a leaky water line will be evidenced by large, wet areas popping up in your lawn out of nowhere. If you do notice that certain areas of your lawn are constantly soggy, be careful around - a leaky water line can actually cause sinkholes to appear due to underground erosion.

  • Look for signs of structural damage. If you have a leaky water line, chances are it will cause some structural damage eventually. Look for things like concrete that seems abnormally damp, stains and buckling appearing either where the floors meet walls or where the walls meet ceilings, or pipes that look as though they're starting to rust.

  • Pay attention to the color and pressure of your water. While it's not uncommon for water systems to flush out rust on occasion, if your water is consistently discolored then chances are, you've got a leaky water line. Similarly, lower-than-normal water pressure over long periods of time is a good indicator of a leaky water line.

  • Check your water bill. If it suddenly shoots up out of nowhere, either you've got a leaky water line, or your water provider is having trouble accurately reading the water meter in your home.

How to test for a leaky water line

If you've noticed some of the signs above of a leaky water line popping up around your home, there are tests you can run to help you verify whether or not your water line is actually leaking. The easiest way to test for a leaky water line is by using your water meter.

If you have a yard, chances are your home has two water lines - the service line and the irrigation line. These water lines are also where leaks most commonly appear. To test whether or not you have a leaky service line or irrigation line, simply do the following:

  • Turn off your water at your home's shut-off valve.

  • Locate your water meter.

  • If you have an analog water meter, you'll want to pay attention to whether or not the main dial hand or the low-flow indicator (typically a triangle or star that spins) are moving.

  • If you have a digital water meter, you'll want to observe whether or not the flow rate number is anything higher than zero.

  • If the dial or indicator on an analog water meter or the flow rate number on a digital water meter is fluctuating, you've got a leak in your service line. If neither the analog nor the digital meter shows any movement, then the leak might be in your irrigation line.

  • To test your irrigation line, turn on your home's water, but keep all of your sinks or water-using devices turned off.

  • If either your analog or your digital meter shows movement, then the leak is in your irrigation line.

If you do have a leaky water line, your next step will be deciding whether you want to try and repair it or simply get that section of the line replaced. The best practice in this situation changes on a case-by-case basis, but typically replacing the leaking section of water line completely will allow you to more accurately ensure the line won't start leaking again.

If you've got a leaky water line, let us help! Delta Mechanical has been providing individuals with trusted plumbing services supplied by industry experts for over 30 years. To learn more about what we can do for you, click here.