You may not realize that you have a plumbing leak until you receive an unusually high water bill. When you think of plumbing leaks, you think of the unexpected flood that deposits a lot of water on your floor or damages your walls. In reality, a lot of plumbing leaks aren’t actually detected by the homeowner. Sometimes, you can determine whether a leak is present, but finding the damage might require more detective work!
Finding a plumbing leak. Plumbing leaks can be stealthy. One good way to determine whether you have a leak is to turn off all of the supply-side water valves in your home. You should have a supply-side shutoff valve at each water-using fixture. It’s good to test these valves once in awhile anyway, so this exercise may help you kill two birds with one stone. Once all of the fixture valves have been closed, check the water meter. If the meter is still running, you may have a leak. During this test, if you find a shut-off valve that is stuck or broken, replace it.
If you do find that your system is still drawing water, you’ll need test each segment of the system to find out which one is affected. This can be time-consuming, but it’s the best way to locate the source of a leak.
Testing your water pressure. Don’t skip this step in the hunt for leaks! You need to know what the water pressure is in your system. Here’s why:
The municipality needs to pump water at a high pressure to ensure that water is delivered correctly and safely to homes and businesses. Often, however, the pressure in the municipal supply is about three to four times higher than what residential systems are designed to operate at! Residential plumbing components aren’t designed to take high pressure for long periods of time, and will wear out early and often! Once a component begins to fail, a leak is the natural result.
You can buy an inexpensive in-line water pressure gauge at your local hardware store that can measure the water pressure at a faucet. If your water pressure is significantly higher than 55 PSI, a regulating valve located near the meter will help ensure that your system maintains a correct and safe water pressure. These regulating valves are adjustable, so if you find that 55 PSI doesn’t meet your needs, you can turn the pressure up.
Check your appliances. Don’t automatically assume that the valves in your water-using appliances are in good working order. They’re under the same pressure that the rest of your system is. Check the valves of your laundry, refrigeration and dishwashing equipment regularly for leaks and deterioration around the seals. Inspect the hoses and replace them every five years. These valves and hoses are inexpensive and are readily available from appliance repair stores.
If you need help with locating a leak in your plumbing, testing your water pressure or installing a regulating valve on your plumbing system, please contact us at Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating at (617) 288-2911. We’ll be happy to test your system, locate hidden leaks and help you protect your water-using appliances.
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