Detecting Water Leaks

Water is a precious resource. Water leaks from both home and business plumbing systems account for almost 10,000 gallons of water wasted each year. Nearly 10% of homes have leaks that waste 90 gallons of water every day. About 1 trillion gallons of water is wasted in the United States each year. Even if you conserve water, leaks in your plumbing or irrigation system can be a drain on your wallet. Follow these easy steps to catch leaks and save money.

Check your water bill

A simple way to identify leaks in your plumbing system is by checking your usage on your water utility bill. You should expect to see consistent water use, but if water use rises then there may be a leak. Extra summer water usage for sprinkler system watering might change your typical usage.

Monitor your water meter

One of the best ways to check for leaks is by checking your water meter. Follow these steps:

Locate the Leak

Once you determine a leak exists, follow these steps to help locate the source of a plumbing leak:

Other Leaky Culprits

Leaky toilet

Old or worn toilet flappers (valve seals or gaskets) can cause leaks. Mineral deposits from drinking water and building plumbing can build up on the flapper over time. Follow these steps to test for leaks at the toilet:

Faucet Leaks

Check for surface leaks by examining faucet gaskets and pipe fittings for possible water on pipe surfaces. Old and worn faucet washers and gaskets can cause leaks. One drip per second can waste over 3,000 gallons each year, the equivalent of 180 average-length showers.

Showerhead Leaks

Check the connections between the showerhead and the pipe stem. Use pipe tape (or Teflon tape) to secure a tight connection. Leaks at showerheads at 10 drips each minute waste 500 gallons of water each year. This is equivalent to washing 60 loads of dishes in your dishwasher. For more complicated valve leaks at the shower, contact a licensed professional for assistance.

Outdoor Leaks

If you have an in-ground sprinkler irrigation system, check your system in the spring when you start up your system for water leaks. Start at your backflow preventer and work your way through the sprinkler irrigation lines to the sprinkler heads.  This ensures that you catch any leaks that may have occurred due to frost or freezing conditions. A sprinkler irrigation system with a leak 1/32” in diameter can waste about 6,300 gallons of water each month.

Workplace Leaks

Leaks don’t just happen at home. They can also occur at your workplace. If you suspect a leak, let your building maintenance personnel know.

Remember: Call before you dig!

For free Utility location service, call 1-800-424-5555. If necessary, contact a licensed plumber to help fix any leaks you detect.

Need additional information or have questions regarding leaks?

Please contact City of Vancouver Utility Services at 360-487-7999. More information regarding leak detection information can be found by visiting the EPA’s Fix a Leak page.