As the winter slowly begins to fade into spring, it’s a great time of year to run an audit of your outdoor plumbing to make sure you don’t have a leak that could cause damage and result in hefty water bills over the warmer months ahead.
But how exactly do you locate a leak that may be situated outside of the four walls of your home? Here’s a quick guide to spotting a leak outside your home.
Start by Checking Outdoor Faucets
Frequently, the culprit for an outdoor leak is an outdoor faucet, even though they are often designed to be “frost-proof.” This type of faucet rules out pipe freezes by allowing the water from the pipe contained within (or close to) the exterior wall drain out of the faucet itself.
However, if a garden hose has been left attached, then there’s nowhere for the water to escape. Therefore, it’s entirely possible that the trapped water has frozen at some point during the winter, subsequently bursting the pipe. Unfortunately, the first time homeowners usually become aware that this is the case is when turning the tap back on for the first time with water running everywhere, including into interior walls.
You can minimize the damage caused by a potentially-burst pipe by turning each exterior faucet on for a short period before turning them back off again. Carry out a thorough examination of the surrounding areas, and if you’ve got water in places you definitely shouldn’t, then you’ve likely got a busted pipe that needs replacing.
It’s also possible that you have an issue with the faucet itself leaking. If your faucet drips continuously even after shutting it off, you may have to replace a washer contained inside that restricts water flow. If the problem persists, you’re going to need to replace the faucet entirely.
Locate and Assess Your Water Box
Almost all houses are equipped with a shut-off valve for the mains water supply somewhere close to the home. More often than not, these are contained with a water box. Your water box is usually placed somewhere out of sight, such as underneath hedgerows or shrubbery. Water boxes are vital since they can stop water damage in its tracks, particularly for in-home leaks. By checking it’s in working order, you can save significant headaches later down the line.
If you don’t know where yours is located, head towards your street and find your water meter and then head back towards your house in a straight line. It’s most likely located in the undergrowth somewhere; you may even have to dig around to find it. Once it’s location has been established, prize the lid open and look to see if any water is in the box. If there’s water inside the box and it hasn’t rained recently, you could have a leak.
It’s also a good idea to check the condition of the valve itself. Old valves (and their handles) have a tendency to rust and calcify due to their proximity to water. When an emergency strikes, you don’t want to find yourself trying to turn the shut-off valve only to discover it won’t move or that the handle snaps off in your hand!
Therefore, it’s wise to perform a quick test to ensure your valve is working as it should. An excellent way to turn off your water with an old valve or handle is by gently taking two turns down, and one turn up. Moving the valve in this way helps to break up the calcification and preserve the integrity of the handle, but of course, it’s not a long-term solution, replacement is always the best option.
Check for Leaks in Your Yard
Wet or soggy spots in your yard could be a sign of a leak in your outdoor plumbing. If you think you’ve found a leak, you need to determine whether that leak is coming from the water utility supply or your irrigation system. A quick method for making this determination is to look at where your main water line runs toward your home and then cross-referencing the wet patches with that line. If the leak is situated a reasonable distance away, the leak is likely linked to your sprinkler system.
Another more thorough method is to isolate your sprinkler system from your main water supply. First, open your meter box and consult your water flow dial (usually a triangular shape), if that’s revolving after shutting the water off then you’ve got a leak somewhere. Proceed to locate your irrigation box (or this could be another valve located in the water box) and shut off the supply to your sprinkler system. If that stops the dial from spinning, your leak is in the sprinkler system. If the dial continues to turn, the issue is within your main water line into the home.
What to Do After Finding a Leak
After you’ve undertaken the above tests and found a leak, your next course of action depends on its severity. If it’s a severe leak, then shut off the water to your property at the meter and call an emergency leak detection company who will be able to find the precise location of the leak and advise on the best course of action.
If it’s less severe, you can shut off the water when you don’t need it (such as at night) to ensure you aren’t going to run up huge water bills or cause further damage. You can then arrange for an appointment with a leak detection specialist to survey your property and unearth the exact cause of the problem.
Here at the Waterboy, we provide both an emergency response service as well as scheduled appointments for our leak detection services. With over 25 years of experience, our expert leak detectors will work tirelessly to resolve your leak while minimizing the damage to your home. Better still, with our transparent upfront pricing, there won’t be any surprises when the bill arrives.
So if you need cost-effective leak detector services in a timely fashion, call the experts today!