How to check your water lines for leaks

Checking for leaking waterlines.

Over time your plumbing system may develop pinholes or cracks in the water supply lines.  Even the smallest crack in a waterline can cause you to lose more than 200 gallons of water per day.  Not only will this cause a dramatic increase in your water bill, but an undetected water leak can cause significant damage to walls, floors, and furnishings in your home.  Mold caused by undetected moisture issues is also a health risk, especially to the elderly, young children and those with respiratory problems.

Leaks can be caused by a number of different causes:

  • Pipes can become old and worn out.
  • High water pressure in the home may cause the line to split at the seams or crack at stress points.  If you are concerned that your home’s water pressure is too high, give us a call.  We will be happy to come by and check your homes pressure. High pressure could be a sign that your PRV is beginning to fail and needs replacing.
  • The line may have been improperly installed causing too much tension on the pipe fittings.
  • Your home may have polybutelyne water lines which were used in the 1980s and which are known to fail frequently.  If you are concerned that your home might have polybutylene water pipes, give Michael’s Plumbing Service a call.  We’ll be happy to drop by at no charge to take a look and let you know.
  • A homeowner may drive a nail in to a wall to hang a picture and hit a line inside the wall.
  • In the spring and fall, temperatures can change rapidly from one part of the day to another.  This causes pipes to expand and contract quickly, which may cause older pipes (especially galvanized pipes) to leak.
  • Heavy summer rains can make the ground around your pipes settle.  This may cause your main supply line to the house to rupture and leak into the ground.  It can even cause the supply line to pull apart at the house foundation, in which case the water might run back towards the house and flood your basement.  Conversely, exceptionally dry summer weather and drought conditions can cause the same problems.
Homeowners should check for leaks at least once every 6-12 months.
  • Check whether there is a leak on the main line outside your home by shutting the water off at the shut-off valve where the line enters your home, then look to see if the meter dial is still turning.  (If your home doesn’t have a shut-off valve where the main line enters the home, call Michael’s Plumbing Service to install one.)
  • Check to see if there is a leak inside your home by waiting until a time when no one will be using any water (for example, overnight).  Read the number on your meter, then wait 8 – 10 hours and read it again. If the meter has moved, something could be leaking inside the home that needs to be repaired.  Take the following steps:
    • Check for visible leaks on the supply lines to all of your appliances and fixtures (sinks, toilets, etc.) — even those that are less visible, such as your dishwasher connection and ice-maker supply line.  If any of these supply lines are made of gray polybutelyne piping, you should replace them with braided stainless steel lines to prevent future leaks.  Or, call Michaels Plumbing Service to do this for you.
    • Check your washing machine hoses for bulges or leaks.  Replace any hose showing signs of wear.  Always replace black rubber washing machine hoses with braided stainless steel washing machine hoses to prevent future leaks.
    • Look inside cabinets for sign of water damage such as warped cabinet bottoms, or water stains.
    • If the home has a basement, check exposed piping for signs of leaking, and don’t forget to check the basement ceiling for water stains.
    • Make sure your hose bibs (outside faucets or spigots) aren’t dripping or leaking.

Other Problems Waterlines Can Have

Leaks are not the only problem you can have with your water lines.  Calcium and mineral deposits can build up and reduce the flow to your plumbing fixtures.  To see if calcification is an issue with your plumbing fixture, turn on the water at several places in your home at the same time.  If the volume of water from a particular fixture is reduced when more than one fixture is open, the pipes may have calcium or mineral deposits built up and need to be replaced.

Water hammer is another problem many homeowners have.  Water or air hammer, as it is sometimes referred to, can be described as a loud annoying noise or banging sound when you turn the water on or off.  Hammer arrestors and/or a Pressure Reducing Valve (PRV) may need to be installed or replaced to prevent water hammer.

Do you suspect you may have a plumbing leak?  The professionals at Michaels Plumbing Service can locate your plumbing leak and repair leaks caused by water line beaks, copper pin-holes, polybutelyne failures, drain line leaks, toilet wax ring and other plumbing fixture failures and more! Give us a call today or schedule your appointment online

Not what you are looking for?

Different Types of Plumbing Pipes  |  Polybutylene Piping  |  Leak Defense System |  Pressure Regulating Valves (PRV)  |  Hot Water Recirclulating System  |  How to Protect your Plumbing Pipes from Freezing  |  Preventing Frozen Plumbing Pipes  |  Shutting Off the Water to Your Home  |  Checking for Leaking Waterlines


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