Imagine it’s an ordinary day in Sacramento: you’ve just gotten home from work, you grab the mail on your way to the door, and you sit down and start going through the pile—junk, more junk, water bill.
You open up the bill, expecting to see the same amount as usual—you haven’t changed your water habits—but instead the bill is more than triple what you normally pay!
You call the water company, sure that there’s a mistake. After waiting through an unbearably long hold system and goodness knows how many department transfers, you get someone out to double-check your system. They have you close all the water valves in your house so no water will flow, only to find that the meter’s still moving.
Turns out, there’s a bad leak somewhere in your home’s water supply pipes. This leak, left unchecked, could cost you a lot of money.
Even if your home is one of the ones that isn’t on a metered connection, severe leaks can still be costly—making early leak detection critical.
Why Water Leaks Can Be Costly
When a pipe in your home is leaking water, it isn’t just adding to your water use, it’s pouring extra moisture in areas where you can’t see.
Common side effects of leaky pipes include:
- Damage to walls and flooring
- Weakening of your house’s structure
- Mold growth
- Pest infestations
Each of these side effects of a leaky pipe can be quite expensive to remediate. And, the longer it takes to spot and fix the leak, the worse the damage will be.
Additionally, since California still isn’t recovered from the drought, you could end up getting hit with a water restriction violation that carries a hefty penalty.
Beyond the monetary costs, there are some health risks associated with a compromised water supply pipe. A leak in a pipe that lets water out may also allow contaminants in—which can make the water dangerous to consume.
Detecting Leaks Early
The scenario with the high water bill is often the first warning that many homeowners get that something is wrong with their water supply. However, there can be a significant delay between when the leak first occurs and when you start to notice a major increase on your water bill—and that’s only if you have a metered connection.
Keeping an eye out for the early warning signs of a leak can help you spot the leak faster and mitigate the damage the leak causes. Tips for finding a leak include:
- Run Water Meter Tests. Take a note of your current water use, then turn off all water appliances in the home. After 20 minutes, check the meter. If it has moved, then you have a leaky pipe. Then, double-check by noting the meter’s new position and shutting off the home water valve—cutting off all water to the house. If the meter still indicates consumption, then there’s probably a leak in your irrigation lines or, even worse, in the lateral lining.
- Check for Signs of Water Damage to Floors and Walls. If you have pipes running behind your walls, leaking water can get behind your walls or pool on the floor, causing stains and discoloration.
- Look for Oddities in Faucets & Drains. Inspect faucets and drains for the following trouble signs:
- Water corrosion/buildup around fixtures
- Discolored water
- Slow or clogged drains
- Unpleasant odors coming from faucets
- Loss of water pressure
- Check Exterior Areas. If your meter test indicated an outdoor leak, check your lawn for things like dense patches of grass, damp spots in the yard on dry days, and shifting soil.
By narrowing down where a leak is in your home’s plumbing, you can save the plumber time—and labor—finding the leak later.
The faster you find a leak, and the sooner you have it fixed, the better. If you can catch a leak early enough, you may be able to avoid significant damage to your house, saving you considerable amounts of money on water damage remediation.
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