How to track down a water leak?

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Topic by Becky posted 07-15-2014 12:11 AM 14701 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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81 posts in 4795 days

07-15-2014 12:11 AM

calling all plumbers… or at least folks with more than no plumbing experience. :) For the last two water bills our bill has doubled… we’ve tried different things from the first to second bill and it still continued to be doubled – more than. So I’m now in Sherlock Holmes mode but a bit over my head. If we have a water leak, it’s nowhere visible – there are no puddles, spots, etc anywhere. I’ve been pondering calling the water company but I’m not sure if they will be of any help or not – but at least the call is free. My concern is if I let this go much longer without knowing where the water is coming from I’ll have more issues than just a doubled water bill. Anyone have any tips or steps I could start with to even begin tracking this issue down?

-- aspiring jill of all trades

View bold1's profile


26 posts in 3541 days

07-15-2014 12:06 PM

You must have a meter since you say your bill doubled, no way they would know to raise that much on zone readings without checking their mains for leaks first. So, can you access the meter read yourself? If so, you can either start at the feed coming in from the meter or at end runs and shut down the flow to each run to decide where you have water flow that you’re not aware of. Some older homes have no run shutoffs, But most will have shut offs for each feed to kitchen, bath, upstairs bath, etc. I usually start by turning off the main shutoff first as many meters here are curbside and any leaks, underground, after the meter show. If you think you have a constant leak at one or more commodes, flush to get clear water. Then with the tank full, if you can’t see any leaks,(make sure if you have an overflow pipe that the water level is below the top and it’s solid) add a couple drops of food coloring and watch to see if it’s drawn to the drain. If you determine you have an underground leak between meter and main house shutoff you will most likely have to have the water company at least send a rep out to make sure you don’t bypass the meter and you may have to have them shut off their main flow while replacing pipes. You’ll have to check with them to know how they handle things.

View Becky's profile


81 posts in 4795 days

07-15-2014 01:06 PM

Thanks B! I do have access to my meter so I’ll start there. I believe the majority of our fixtures have been updated in the last 8 years to include shutoffs if they weren’t in place before. Looks like I have my homework for Friday!

-- aspiring jill of all trades

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

331 posts in 5656 days

07-15-2014 05:53 PM

And your water supplier is probably super happy to come out and help you track down leaks. Our city has a “Department of Water Conservation”, and not only will those folks heavily subsidize the price of ripping out your lawn and replacing it with lower water landscaping and give you free shower heads, when we had a valve burst and had a higher than normal water bill, they came out pro-actively to look at our meter and see if the house was using water “at idle”.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California, http://www.flutterby.net/

View GaryL's profile


206 posts in 4683 days

07-19-2014 09:38 PM

If you can read your meter…read it at night before you go to bed. Be sure everything is turned off. Then read it again in the morning. It should read the same as the night before if nothing has been run. If it is reading more then start digging for that leak. If it’s the same, start with the water dept and see how many “estimate” billings they have done as compared to actual readings.

-- The difference between a pro and an amateur, an amateur points out his mistakes

View Becky's profile


81 posts in 4795 days

07-21-2014 02:46 AM

Thanks for all of the answers, guys! the water leak made itself evident again so I didn’t have to troubleshoot after all… it seems it’s a sewer leak under our foundation in the basement bathroom. noticed a puddle outside the bathroom door this evening and the grout lines were dark where it was working its way across the floor. Turned the toilet off to be safe and will go about getting a plan together. I know I’ll have to DIY demo’ing the floor (crying at the same time since I put the floor in just seven years ago. My first tile job ever!) Remodelling a bathroom was not on my to-do list before my final class!

-- aspiring jill of all trades

View Mithi's profile


3 posts in 3356 days

07-21-2014 10:34 AM

Call your near plumber he is only person who can tell you that from where water in leaking. And put water meter so that you can easily can check the water consumption. and at night must check all tapes properly.


View Becky's profile


81 posts in 4795 days

07-21-2014 10:47 PM

Thanks Mithi. We have the name of a reputable plumber that we will be contacting for an estimate on finding out where and what this issue entails before we go breaking up tile and concrete when the issue may lie further up or downstream. The toilet is turned off but I will also turn off the sink to be safe since it most likely drains into that sewer pipe as well. The shower hasn’t been in use in a long while and there aren’t any visible shut offs for that.

-- aspiring jill of all trades

View bold1's profile


26 posts in 3541 days

07-22-2014 12:24 PM

Before you rip up All that floor. If your supply lines are buried under it (and it sounds like they are) Lay out and cut a trough for new lines within your tile grout lines, and cut with a diamond blade. That way even if you have a tile that you can’t match you can put a stripe of complementary tile. Laid out right it will look like a planned pattern. Much less work then redoing the whole floor. I usually put supply lines that are under concrete inside larger PVC pipe. That way the new lines are not directly in contact with the ground and if my lines ever need replaced they can be cut at the ends and new lines slid thru.

View Becky's profile


81 posts in 4795 days

07-22-2014 01:00 PM

Thanks B! The water lines are in the wall for the toilet and sink- I’m guessing the shower doesn’t have shutoffs or they are buried in the wall with no access. Once I know what’s going on I’ll let you all know. Here’s hoping it’s not something I did!

-- aspiring jill of all trades

View dbray45's profile


157 posts in 3451 days

07-22-2014 05:17 PM

If you have any outside spigots, make sure these are turned off or locked. My tenant was telling me that this happened to him. It turned out that the neighbor, who had their water turned off, would wait until he went to work and would fill up a their pool with his water.

-- Love woodworking and fixing most anything

View James Water's profile

James Water

5 posts in 3592 days

09-22-2014 09:19 AM

You can actually call in an inspector to just check around the house if you’ve got problems with the piping and plumbing. They can fix leaks on the spot while they’re looking around or offer you advice on how you can be more conservative with the water. Just double check that you haven’t been doing anything differently and keep monitoring the bill from one month to the next and if you haven’t double checked things, make sure the dates on the bills tally. Good luck!

-- James Water - : https://londoncityplumbers.co.uk/

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7 posts in 1532 days

08-24-2019 04:01 AM

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Anna John

21 posts in 1555 days

10-10-2019 08:20 AM

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