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Fix a Leak Week: How to Detect Plumbing Leaks

Fix a Leak Week: How to Detect Plumbing Leaks

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has declared this week, March 16-22 as Fix a Leak Week in order to help homeowners chase down leaks and seal them up.

Annual water waste infographic


Did you know that more than 1 trillion gallons of water is wasted every year nationwide from household leaks? It is also estimated that the average household has plumbing leaks that account for about 10,000 gallons of wasted water every year, equal to about 270 loads of laundry. For more Facts on Leaks, see EPA's WaterSense page.

Now that you know how serious and widespread plumbing leaks are, let's do our part to detect plumbing leaks to save money and precious resources.

how to detect and fix plumbing leaks

How to Detect Plumbing Leaks

1. Signs of Water – Obviously. Still, it takes some effort to actually go around you home, specifically looking at the visible pipes in your home for signs of waters, rust, or buckling. Look underneath all of your plumbing fixtures such as underneath your sinks, toilets, and hot water heater. Also, look for drippipng showerheads, faucets, and bathtubs. Watch this video for repairing leaks underneath your kitchen sink:

If you are having trouble fixing your leak yourself, a Gold Medal technician will be glad to help. Our technicians can also check for other leaks in your home as well as offer advice for lowering your water consumption.

To detect plumbing leaks outside the home, see this guide by SmartHomeWaterGuide. To detect plumbing leaks inside the home, see this guide.

2. Toilet Leaks – If you hear water running constantly from your toilet, you probably have a leak somewhere in your toilet tank. If you don't know whether or not your toilet is leaking, there is a simple test you can do: Lift the lid to your toilet tank and put a couple drops of food dye in it. Wait a couple of minutes and check the toilet bowl to see if the dye has colored your toilet water. If you see the dye, you know you have a leak.

3. Faucet Leaks – Although it is good to have a couple faucets leaking slowly to prevent freezing pipes in the pit of winter, always having a leaking faucet is never a good idea. Go around your house and inspect each and every faucet for leaks.If your faucet drips at the rate of one drop per second, you can waste more than 3,000 gallons of water per year, or about 180 showers!

Fixing a faucet leak can get complicated, but it depends on your leak and the kind of faucet you have. There are four different kinds of faucets: compression, cartridge, ceramic disk, and ball type.

Find and fix leaks graph

Compression Faucet

To find out more about what kind of faucet you have and how to stop the drips, see this OldHouse article on How to Fix a Leaking Faucet.

4. Check Your Meter – If you don't know where your water meter is, watch this video:

Once you have located your water meter, you will clean off any dirt or debris so that you can clearly see all of the dials and readers.

  • Make sure all faucets and water-using appliances are off. Double-check your home to make sure no water is currently being used.
  • Gain access to your water meter. You can use a large screwdriver to help you pry the meter box lid; just be careful of bugs and critters that may be lurking and allow them a chance to escape. Use your screwdriver to clear away any other bugs and cobwebs.
  • Clean off the face of the meter so that you can clearly see all the numbers and dials.
  • The larger red hand turns around like a clock, keeping track of your water usage with spinning number disks, much like the odometer on your car. The spinning blue, red, or silver spinning asterisk, gear, star, or triangle is your leak indicator.
  • If you have turned off all of your water-using appliances and have double-checked to make sure no water is running inside or outside your home, take a look at your leak indicator triangle/gear (double-check your ice-maker). If it continues to move, you probably have a leak! If the sweeping red hand, or numbers are also moving, you definitely have a leak.
  • The leak indicator will move slower if there is a small leak and faster if there is a larger leak. Very small leaks, like a slow drip, drip, drip might not be picked up by your leak indicator; however, any continuous stream of water will.
    • If you cannot see any gear or numbers move, record the water meter reading, leave all of your water off for 30 minutes, and then return to your water meter box to check the water meter reading again. If there is a difference greateer than zero, you have a continuous leak.

If you can’t detect plumbing leaks inside the home, check your outdoor plumbing, such as irrigation and sprinkler systems. The biggest culprit, however, is usually your toilet, so make sure to conduct that food dye test to see if you have a toilet leak. A toilet leak can easily double your water bill.

For a running toilet, click here to learn How To Fix a Leaking Toilet.

If you have found water leaks in your home, call your plumbing experts at Gold Medal Service! If you think you have a leak, but don't know where it is coming from, we have the equipment and expertise to conduct a whole-home leak inspection test.

Whether your concern is a minor faucet leak, a major pipe burst, or a new fixture installation, we guarantee you phenomenal workmanship and customer service.

To schedule plumbing or heating maintenance, contact the professionals at Gold Medal Service. We'll be there with our same day service guarantee to assess your problem.

Give us a call today at (732) 365-3199 or schedule an appointment online!