Facts and How To Tips on Water Leaks
Sometimes trying to track down a water leak can be very time-consuming and frustrating. Below are some of the things we've run into over the years that may help you solve your leak issues.
How to check for a leak:
Using your water meter is the best way to determine if you have a leak in your plumbing system.
- Make sure no water is being used inside or outside of your house.
- Locate and check your water meter.
- If the water meter's normal or low flower indicator is moving, it means you have a continuous leak somewhere in the line.
After you determine that you have a leak, the next step is to determine if the leak is inside or outside your house.
- If your home is equipped with an irrigation system, turn off the double check valve and/or RPZ. Check the leak indicator for movement. If the leak indicator stops, you have a leak in your irrigation system.
- If the leak indicator is still moving, locate your home's main shutoff valve and turn it off. Texas plumbing code requires all homes have one. It is usually located near the entrance of the water service to your home in a small round valve box. In newer homes, it could be in a valve box cabinet inside your garage. Cutoffs located outside the home are usually covered by landscaping.
- Make sure you're not using any water and then check the leak indicator. If it stops moving or there is no change in the meter readings, then you have a leak inside your home. If the leak indicator continues to move or there is a change in meter readings, then the leak is outside between the meter and the house.
- If you are unable to locate the leak, you may need to call a plumber and/or irrigator.
If you feel strongly your water meter is not working properly, you can send it to the Town's third-party independent testing facilities. If the meter comes back as running within or below the American Water Works Association (AWWA) standards, your account will be billed for the meter test, labor, and meter fees. If the meter comes back as running above the AWWA standards, no fees will be billed, and your account will be adjusted for overage for the previous six months.
Water Wasted at 60 Pounds of Pressure Over 24 Hours
Leaking faucets are generally a result of a worn rubber washer. The washer on a sink is usually located under the handle. These are relatively easy to replace if you have the right tools. It does require shutting off the water under the sink or at the main shutoff valve and removing the handle (Note: Faucet handles are not shutoff valves). Check at your local home center or hardware store on how to repair faucet leaks.
Toilet leaks are often silent and can waste hundreds of gallons of water. Over time, even a small leak can add up to a lot of wasted water and money. Fortunately, most toilet leaks are easy and inexpensive to repair.
To help determine if you have a leaking toilet, remove the tank lid and place a few drops of food coloring in the back of the tank. You can also purchase dye tabs from any hardware store or home center. Wait about 30 minutes without flushing and then look in the toilet bowl to see if any color has come through. If the water is clear, you do not have a leak. If you see food coloring in the bowl, you have a leak.
In most cases, you will need to replace the toilet flapper and/or filling mechanism. These are available at hardware stores and home centers for about $10.00.
Flapper Valve Leaks
The most common reason for a leaking toilet is an improperly working or sealing flapper. The flapper is the rubber valve in the bottom of the tank that lifts up when the toilet is flushed. If the flapper is worn or cracked, it allows water to continuously flow from the tank into the toilet bowl without flushing.
Flush Handle Problems
If the handle needs to be jiggled to keep the toilet from running, the flush level bar and chain, or the handle itself, may be sticking. Adjust the nut that secures it in the toilet tank. If that does not work, the handle may need to be replaced.
Overflow Tube Leaks
If the water in your toilet tank is too high, it will spill into the overflow tube. Ideally, the water level should be set so that it is even with the fill line on the back of the toilet tank. Adjust the water level by turning the adjustment screw or by very gently bending the float arm down. If none of these steps solve the problem, you may need to contact a plumber to repair or replace the toilet.
Hot Water Heater Leaks
Check for pooling water on the floor by your water heater or in the overflow pan. Many times the cause is a dripping valve that needs to be replaced. If the valves are dry, there's a chance the leak is inside the tank, which means you may need a new water heater.
To determine if the leak is inside your water heater, find the pressure relief and drain valves at the top and bottom of your heater. Listen closely for dripping, gurgling, or hissing sounds. It's possible the leak has not manifested visibly on the outside of the water heater but can still be heard.
Exterior Hose Bibbs
"Bibbs" are the faucet-like pipes on the side of your home where you hook up a watering hose. These may be actively dripping or could hiss and vibrate faintly as water passes through. In most cases, you can stop a leaky bibb by tightening the packing nut that secures the handle, or by replacing the washer inside the handle assembly. If the bibb is still leaking, call a plumber and have them trace the leak further back into your pipes.
The average home has one to two bibbs along the outside, but larger homes may have more.
Swimming pool leaks are usually much harder to reliably diagnose and repair than other household leaks. If the water level in your pool keeps dropping rapidly after you fill it, that's an indication of a leak. Contact the pool's original installer or a reputable maintenance company to find the leak for you.
There are a lot of places where something can go wrong in a swimming pool, including the pump, filter, skimmers, vacuum lines, drainage system, or even lighting elements. It's important to call a specialist if you believe you have a pool leak because they are so complex. This also applies to other major water installations like fountains and ponds.
Finding Other Water Leaks
The water you drink and bathe with is delivered under pressure, so a leak can be very obvious. However, wastewater is usually moved by gravity and is not under pressure. This makes wastewater leaks much harder to detect. If you suspect a wastewater leak, please call our Public Works Department at 972.874.6400.
Condensation can also be a form of leak. While condensation is normal, excessive condensation can cause damage to your walls, ceiling, floors, and woodworking. If there is too much condensation, insulating your pipes may stop or reduce it.
Water Usage Facts
- Toilet flush = 1.5 to 2 gallons of water
- Shower = 25 to 50 gallons of water
- Hand washing = 2 gallons with running tap
- Tooth brushing = 2 gallons with running tap
- Outdoor hand washing = 5 to 10 gallons a minute
- Automatic dishwasher = 10 gallons
- Dishwashing by hand = 20 gallons
- Tub bath = 36 gallons of water
Tips for Saving Water
- Use brooms to sweep the sidewalk instead of a water hose.
- Position sprinklers so they only water the lawn, not the sidewalk.
- Low-flush or air-assisted toilets cut toilet water usage up to 90 percent.
- Turn off the tap while you are brushing your teeth, washing your hands, or even scraping dishes.
- Before you attempt to unearth a buried water line located in your yard, contact 811 In Your State and ask them to come mark their position. Blindly digging on your property could come with financial and physical risks.
- If you decided to handle a leak yourself, make sure you know what you're doing and work cautiously. Otherwise, you could end up causing multiple leaks in the process.
- If you suspect there is a leak inside your water heater, call a plumber immediately and keep your distance in the meantime. Tampering with a water heater can be dangerous.
Please contact Utility Billing at 972.874.6010 to ensure that your personal contact information includes a phone number and email address.