Frigid weather is here, and you aren’t the only one at risk from this cold weather. During the winter, pipes will often freeze and burst due to being left inactive for too long. However, letting cold water trickle from the faucet connected to the exposed pipes can greatly minimize this threat. Running water through the pipe, as little as it may be, helps to prevent pipes from freezing and ultimately bursting. Although this may help in the winter for frozen pipes, it doesn’t all together eliminate the possibility of a faulty pipe. Leaky pipes are sometimes hard to locate, especially in a larger home. However, there are a few steps you can take to help locate the cause.
The best way to determine if you have a leak somewhere in your plumbing system is by first checking your water meter.
- First, assure there is no water running or being used in or outside of the house.
- Locate your water meter and check the leak indicator to see if it is wavering. Depending on the brand of your meter, the indicator should be a small triangular shaped dial or a small silver wheel that rotates when water is flowing through the meter. If the dial is moving at all then chances are you have a leak.
- Alternatively, you can also take a meter reading and wait 1 to 2 hours, then take a second reading—but make sure no water is used or ran during this time. If the reading has changed, you have a leak.
After you have determined there is in fact a leak, the next step is to determine if the leak is occurring inside or outside your home. To do this:
- Locate your home’s main water valve and shut it off. The valve is typically located in the basement or garage directly behind the outdoor faucet, or below an outdoor faucet.
- Once again, check the water meter for movement, making sure not to use any water during this period.
- If the leak indicator stops moving or there is no change in the meter readings, then you have a leak inside the house.
- If there is still movement in the reading, then the leak is somewhere between the meter and the house.
- If you are still unable to determine if there is a leak from these steps, it may be in your best interest to call a professional plumber to assess the situation.
Leaking faucets are usually a result of a worn rubber washer. On a sink, this is typically located under the handle and is relatively easy to replace, if you have the right tools. However, you do, need to shut of the water valve in order to replace this piece (not just the sink handle).
To help determine if you have a leaky toilet, remove the tank lid and place a few drops of food coloring into the back of the tank. Wait 20 to 30 minutes without flushing, and if any color has made its way into the bowl, you found yourself a leak.