The last thing on the minds of most homeowners is a water leak. However, once they see the signs, they jump into action. Some leaks are trivial such as a leaky toilet or faucet, while others can cause serious damage to the structure of your home. Most would agree that most water leaks, especially those that would inflict damage, are caused by a broken pipe. You may see a water spot on your walls or ceiling. An extremely high water bill might get your attention as well. Whatever the case, how can we avoid the dreaded water-damaging leak?
We Can’t Completely Avoid All Water Leaks
Can we avoid them? Yes, some we can, but not all. Most of them go unnoticed until we see the damage. As much as we like to think everything, including our pipes, will last forever, the fact is everything in our home will eventually wear out.
- The pipes in our home have a 40 to 60-year life expectancy.
- Your water heater is expected to last 10 to 15 years.
- Tankless water heaters have a 20-year lifespan.
- The insides of your toilets will need replacing every few years.
- Our faucets are expected to last 10 to 12 years.
- Showerheads eventually break down and leak.
When they do wear down, they begin to leak. Not to mention, a slab leak can occur from a shifting foundation. Taking care of water leaks is part of maintaining our homes, especially if we live in an older home.
10% Of Households In The US Have Water Leaks
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average household leaks can account for nearly 10,000 gallons of water wasted every year. They also stated that 10% of households have water leaks that waste 90 gallons of water per day. The real problem is knowing if we have one so we can take action.
Here Are Some Basic Facts Concerning Water Damage
Before you start to think it won’t happen to you, think again.
- Over 14,000 people in the United States have a water-related emergency at home every single day.
- The typical claim for water damage to a property is $11,098.
- According to studies, a 10% increase in the typical household’s water bill might result from even a minor leak.
- Up to $20 billion is lost yearly in the United States due to water damage in homes.
- One trillion gallons of water per year is lost due to leaks in the United States; that’s enough to meet the annual needs of 11 million households.
High Water Pressure Is A Big Reason Our Pipes Start To Leak
While yes, some water leaks can be avoidable; others need early detection. If you live in a home older than 40 years old and have already experienced a water leak from your pipes, make sure a licensed plumbing contractor inspects your pipes.
Check your water pressure and make sure it’s set between 40 and 60 pounds per inch (PSI). Over 80 PSI will put stress on your pipes and appliances. You can purchase a water pressure gauge that attaches right to your outdoor spigot for less than ten dollars. Keep a close eye on your water bill if you think it’s too high or if you see a sudden spike. That’s when you’ll need to check for a water leak.
Common Causes Of Water Leaks and How to Check For A Leak
The most common types of leaks discovered in the home are dripping faucets, leaky showerheads, worn toilet flappers, dripping outdoor spigots, and leaking irrigation valves. However, you don’t have to be a do-it-yourselfer to check your home or business for a water leak.
Here’s How To Check For A Leak Before It Turns Into A Disaster
If you are not familiar with your water meter, then familiarize yourself with the meter before you start. First, remove the lid from your water meter. Next, you’ll need a heavy-duty screwdriver. Most covers are made of concrete with a hole at the top for your water company to have easy access. Insert the screwdriver in the hole and remove the lid. Most water meters are rarely exposed, so they may have a few spiders. Finally, spray some bug killer in the meter and wipe off the “flow rate indicator” to give you a clear picture.
Checking For A Leak Takes 15 minutes A Month
Look closely at the dials, they look very similar to the odometer on your car. Some meters have a spinning wheel, while others have a triangle that spins. Both styles are called “leak indicators.” If your water runs, the leak indicator will spin, increasing the meter numbers. Even a minor leak, such as a toilet, spigot, or faucet, will cause the leak indicator to spin
Now that you have familiarized yourself with your water meter, you’re ready to get started.
- Turn off all the water in your home. That includes your washer, dishwasher, and any other water outlets.
- Remove the lid on the water meter. The meter’s usually close to the street and sometimes at the bottom of a driveway.
- Lift the cap on the meter and check for the small spinning dial on the meter with all the water turned off in the home. If the ial is spinning, your home has a water leak.
- Wait, you’re not done yet! Locate the on and off irrigation valve; it usually has a lever handle and is called a ball valve. However, sometimes in older homes, it could be a gate valve that turns right and left to open and close. Turn your irrigation off.
- If the leak indicator stops spinning, the leak comes from the irrigation. If the reading continues, then your leak is in the home.
It Won’t Stop A Leak, But It Will Stop One From Turning Into A Disaster
In most cases, this process takes 15 minutes, and if you want to stay on top of your home’s maintenance, check for leaks once a month, particularly if you are in an old home. Although, newer homes are known to have water leaks as well. While this won’t stop a leak from happening, it will spot a leak before it gets out of control.
You Can Detect A Leak Right from Your Smart Phone
We cannot stop a leak from happening altogether, but we can catch them before significant damage occurs. So let’s turn to some of the latest residential plumbing technologies, leak detectors. These devices connect to your incoming water supply, and when a leak occurs, it warns you through an app on your smartphone. In addition, some devices will allow you to turn your water supply off right from your phone. Everything from a minor toilet leak to a burst pipe can get detected through the latest leak detection technology.