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How to Check Your Water Meter to Find a Plumbing Leak

Struggling with high water bills you cannot explain? You can expect your water bills to change somewhat from month to month. But when your utilities skyrocket with no obvious explanation, it’s time to take a closer look.

Even smaller plumbing leaks can add sigleaky-pipe-burstnificantly to your water usage. According to the US EPA’s WaterSense, if a faucet were leaking at just one drop per second, you would be wasting 3,000 gallons of water per year. But you can have a small, dripping leak anywhere in your water line, from the pipes underneath the sink to the ones behind walls to those leading into the home.

If there is no obvious visible leak, you can test your plumbing system for leaks by observing changes in your water meter. Follow these steps, and call a plumber for thorough leak detection services.

Shutting Off the Water

First, you’ll have to turn off all of the water throughout the home. We don’t recommend using the main shut-off valve, as this will not help you to find a leak that may be coming from a pipe within your home. Instead, you’ll have to do a thorough job of checking that anything that uses water is completely disabled.

Let your family members in on what you’re doing so that they know not to use faucets or toilets (or pick a time when no one else is home). Make sure every fixture or appliance is off—including systems that may run automatically. Don’t forget about:

  • Your irrigation system.
  • A water filter that may run automatic backflow cleaning.
  • Dishwashers.
  • The refrigerator’s icemaker.

How to Read the Meter

Now, you should check the meter to see if there is a flow indicator. This is a small rotating dial that will move even if there is only a small amount of water flowing. If all the water is off and the wheel is moving, you have a leak.

However, this won’t tell you how much water is leaking. If you want to find out whether it’s an excessive amount (or if you don’t have a flow indicator on the meter), you’ll have to wait a while. Write down the number you read on the dial or use permanent marker to track it. Check again after an hour. The difference is read in either gallons or cubic feet. You can convert cubic feet to gallons by multiplying the number by 7.48. That’s how much your plumbing system is leaking per hour.

What to Check Next (If You Do Have a Leak)

Now, you want to determine exactly where the leak is coming from. Of course, it’s not always easy. You can check for moisture throughout the home, including behind walls and along baseboards. You may even access your crawlspaces to look for moisture, and it’s a good idea to search the yard for patches of moisture or greener areas of grass.

But for the most part, you’ll need a professional plumber to take a look. This is particularly true if you have a slab leak, a leak underneath the concrete foundation of your home. This requires specific leak detection equipment to narrow down the issue, and you must call in someone ASAP to mitigate the damage.

Call Admiral Plumbing Services, LLC for leak detection services and plumbing repair in Lake Park, FL.

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