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How To Spot a Hidden Water Line Leak

Pro Tips for Finding Underground Water Leaks

Plumbing leaks can come in many forms, from running toilets and dripping faucets to frozen pipes and loose pipe fittings. But of all the types of leaks, none is more insidious than an underground water leak. Hidden leaks can go unnoticed for months or possibly years, but those in the underground plumbing system can be even harder to detect than those hidden behind walls or under floors.

Any hidden pipe leak can waste dozens of gallons of water every day and cost homeowners hundreds of dollars on their utility bills, so it pays to know how to spot them. Keep reading to learn a few ways to tell if the home has a hidden water leak!

Watch Out for Common Signs of a Leak

water billWhen it comes to spotting leaks, it’s best to start with the easiest method, keeping an eye (and an ear) out. Hidden leaks inside the home will often be accompanied by visual evidence such as peeling paint, bubbling wallpaper, warping, or discolored spots. With an underground water leak, visible signs include soggy spots or puddles in the yard and patches of grass that grow thicker or faster than the rest of the lawn.

Unusually high water bills may indicate a leaky water pipe, as even a tiny leak can dramatically increase the home’s monthly water consumption. Low water pressure could also be the result of a hidden pipe leak. If homeowners notice a sound like running water (typically a muffled hissing) when no one (or no appliance) is using water, the likely culprit is a water line leak. 

The Water Meter Test

For a more definitive sign of a leak somewhere in the home’s water supply system, homeowners can perform the time-honored “water meter test.” The first step is to ensure no faucets or water fixtures are in use anywhere in the home (including outdoor hose bibs and irrigation systems). The next step is to find the home’s water meter, typically located either down by the street or on the side of the house itself.

A series of numbers will be displayed on the meter face, either on a digital screen or mechanical counter. Homeowners need to write down the numbers they see, then wait one hour, making sure not to use any water in the meantime. After the hour is up, they can compare the number they wrote down with the one on the meter. If the numbers are different, there’s almost certainly a leak.

Homeowners whose meters are located by the street can perform an additional step to get a general idea of where the leak is located. First, they’ll need to shut off the home’s main water valve (usually in the garage or basement), then go down to the meter and repeat the process described above. If the numbers are the same this time around, the leak is in the house. The leak is located in the main underground water pipe that carries water from the city water central to the home if they’re different.

Hire a Leak Detection Serviceprofessional

Once it’s been established that there is a leak somewhere in the home’s plumbing system, the next step is to track down its exact location. The best way to do this is to hire a professional. Professional water line leak detection involves using specialized tools like susceptible acoustic listening gear and flexible waterproof camera systems. This allows pros to pinpoint leaks with extreme accuracy.

Upon finding the leak and determining the root cause, a pro will recommend an appropriate solution. In some cases, hidden leak repair may require excavating the damaged pipe and replacing it. In other cases, a less invasive (and less messy) trenchless repair may be possible – such as running a line with a smaller diameter through the existing line or simply rerouting it to bypass the damaged pipe. 

Detecting and repairing hidden leaks is one of the best things homeowners can do for their plumbing systems – not to mention their monthly water bills!

About Heil Plumbing

The award-winning Heil Plumbing is a local, family-owned company that has served its neighbors in Jessup and the surrounding areas since 1977. They provide straightforward pricing and are available to answer after-hours calls, so call them today for plumbing services in Jessup, MD.