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Ask the Drain Brains: Finding Water Leaks


Ask the Drain Brains
By Marty Silverman
General Pipe Cleaners

A water leak in your building can be very costly. Yet even a very small leak can be found through trying a few simple techniques and can save you from a nasty surprise from your utility company. Here are a few steps you can do before calling a plumber. The more you do now, the less it will cost you in the long run!

Check the Water Meter
Start your search by checking the water meter. First, turn off all the water in the building. Shut off all faucets, and make sure dishwashers and washing machines are not running. Next, watch the water meter and see if it begins to change. If it does, you likely have a fast-moving leak. If the meter doesn’t change immediately, wait two hours and check it again. If it has changed despite all the water being off, you may be dealing with a slower leak.

Check the Toilets
Toilets can account for up to 30% of your water use. Check the toilet for leaks by removing the top off the tank and listening very closely. If you don’t hear any hissing, you may still have a water leak. Test for leaks by adding a few drops of food coloring to the toilet tank and wait 10 minutes. If the color shows up in the bowl, then you have a leak allowing water to flow from the tank to your drain without ever flushing the bowl.

Check Both Interior and Exterior Faucets
Check bathrooms and kitchen faucets for leaky gaskets. Inspect all accessible connections at the water heater, pumps, washing machine hoses and valves for oxidation or discoloration – clear signs of a slow leak. And leaks don’t just happen inside the building. Check outside hose bibs as well. If you have an automated lawn sprinkler system, consider calling a professional once a year to check it out. A system with even a small leak could be wasting more than 6000 gallons of water per month.

Hidden Leaks in Walls and Underground
Regularly check in back of cabinets and under basins for signs of mold or foul smells. Outside, look for soft, muddy areas, grass that is greener than the rest or growing much faster might be signs of a leak. Prompt attention could save you thousands in repairs.

You don’t have to be a professional or experienced with a divining rod to find a leak. Electronic leak locators are available that can pay for themselves in just a few uses.

For more information or to ask a question, call the Drain Brains® at 800.245.6200, or visit