How to Find and Fix Leaks Around the Home Videos from SavingWater.orgATT00001CAJ1YA9J

You Have a Leak, What Now

Property owners can receive a Leak Adjustment credit for excess water volume charges resulting from one eligible water system leak on a property every five years.

To be eligible for an adjustment, you must:

    • have NOT received an adjustment in the previous 5 years (60 months); and
    • have a leak deemed undetectable by District staff; adjustments will not be granted for internal plumbing leaks considered to be a household maintenance responsibility; and
    • have repaired the leak within 30 days of being notified or when the leak was discovered; or have temporarily stopped the leak, have notified the District of the status, AND then completed necessary repairs at a later time; and
    • provide proof of the repair (receipts for any materials or services related to that repair) or submit a "No Repair Receipt Documentation" form.  

IMPORTANT:

Please be aware that a water bill resulting from a large leak could total SEVERAL THOUSAND DOLLARS! Small leaks typically cost less, but can be the sign of a problem water line and indicate that larger and more expensive leaks are likely in the future. Since only one Leak Adjustment can be granted to the owner of a property every five years, if you receive an adjustment for a leak, large or small, now, you will NOT be eligible for another leak adjustment for five more years. If a service line is prone to future leaks, the best way to reduce the risk of a second leak is to replace the entire line, instead of just patching or spot-fixing the break. Also, because each circumstance is unique, we strongly suggest that you contact your repair provider for professional advice given your particular circumstance.

If you feel you qualify for a Leak Adjustment or leak credit to your bill, follow the directions on the Leak Adjustment Form (pdf).Faucetli

clip image002INDOOR LEAKS

Toilet Tanks -The most common indoor leaks occur in the toilet tank.  Many toilet leaks are silent, but if you hear your toilet running, or flushing when no one has touched the handle, you have a toilet leak.   You can check for a leaking toilet by removing the TANK lid and putting 5-10 drops of food color in the TANK.  Put the lid back on but don’t flush it yet.  After about 10 minutes, look in the BOWL.  If you see color in the water, you have a leak.   Many toilet leaks are silent.   The main causes of a toilet leak are either a “fill valve” that will not shut off or a bad “flapper”. 

      • Fill Valve Problem:  If you can’t adjust the water level lower or can’t get the fill valve to shut off, replace the fill valve. Pedestal fill valves are considered more reliable than the ball and float type.
      • Bad Flapper:  If you had water run into the bowl during the dye test and the water level is not set too high, your flapper is probably leaking and it should be replaced.  If your old flapper has a float on the chain, make sure your new one does too (or put the old float on the new chain).
      • Occasionally the entire flushing mechanism will need to be replaced.  Call a plumber if you need help.  If you are a do-it-yourselfer and want a little guidance, check out www.toiletology.com and click on the Care and Repair of Toilets.  There you will find a wealth of information for repairing your own toilet.

Washing Machine Hoses – It is a good idea to check behind your washer to be sure there is no water dripping from a worn washing machine hose. If you find any water dripping, new hoses can be purchased from your local home improvement center.

Hot Water Tanks – It’s pretty hard to miss when a hot water tank goes bad, but it is a good idea to check around the tank for any small leaks.  This can prevent the major flood that occurs when the tank gives out.

Sinks, Bathtubs, Dishwashers, etc. – Make a habit of checking under sinks, around the shower and bathtub molding, and along the bottom front edge of the dishwasher for any unusual damp spots.  If a leak is found, plumbing supplies can be purchased at your local home improvement center, or you can contact a plumber for help.

OUTDOOR LEAKS

Most outdoor leaks occur between the house and the meter.  One smart rule to follow, always take a sudden drop in water pressure, seriously, (no matter how slight) it may be a sign you have a leak. 

Unfortunately it can be difficult and expensive to locate the exact spot where the line has broken.  Water follows the path of least resistance so it may not be noticeable on the surface of your yard. If you know the general area where the water line runs between the meter and your house, you might want to walk the length of the line looking for wet or soft spots in the ground.  The water district does not have records of where water lines have been installed on private property.  As-builts or blue prints are the best source of information for finding the water lines on your property. If these are not available you may need to call a locating service.  See details below.

Some common leak causes are listed below:

    • Frozen Pipes - Whenever the temperatures drop below freezing there is a chance of having your pipes freeze.  As the pipe expands to accommodate the frozen water, the pipes can split.  Then as the pipe warms and the ice melts, water leaks from the split in the line.  If your water pressure drops suddenly following a cold spell, suspect a leak.  A good place to check is under the house.  You may be able to hear the water running or a hissing sound coming from the broken area.
    • Tree Roots - Large tree roots and water lines are not a good combination.  Tree roots can put pressure on the water line as the tree grows, eventually breaking the line.  When looking for a leak keep tree roots in mind as a possible problem.
    • Sharp Rocks - Rocks are another cause of water line breaks.  If a rock shifts over time and happens to have a sharp edge, it can split a water line.  This is a more common problem if vehicles drive over any part of the water line, even if the area is paved. (Note: If you find a leak has occurred under a paved surface on your property and you don’t want to dig up the paved surface, an alternative would be to run a new water line in an unpaved area, and then cap-off the buried line without repairing it.)

LEAK REPAIRS

If you are unable to locate or repair the leak yourself there are a few different options available to solve the problem: 

    • Call a leak detection service to try and locate the leak.  Look in the yellow pages under “Leak Detection” for the names of local leak detection services.  There are several methods used to find leaks, such as; listening devices, or chemicals.  Ask lots of questions when calling around to help you decide who should do the work.  Remember most leak detection services only find the leak, they don’t perform the repairs.
    • Call a plumber to repair the leak.  Again it is important to ask lots of questions when calling around for plumbing information.  Some plumbers will locate and repair the leak, others only perform repairs once a leak has been located.  You may want to contact family, friends, or neighbors for referrals.  The water district is unable to provide referrals.

  
Handy Drip Calculator to measure and estimate water wasted due to leaks