3 tips to find and eliminate plumbing leaks

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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Water Pressure Problems In Boston Homes

For most people in Boston, water pressure inside the home isn’t a big concern, unless of course something’s wrong with the water pressure! Water pressure is the force with which water is moved through the water supply system. In municipalities, water pressure needs to be relatively high – perhaps 200 psi – in order to move large quantities of water, meet the needs of commercial and industrial buildings, and provide municipal fire departments with enough pressure to operate hoses and put out fires.

Homeowners don’t need that much water pressure. In fact, most building codes recommend a water pressure of about 55 psi for residential plumbing systems. There’s a big difference between what’s delivered and what’s needed!
High water pressure can cause damage to your pipes, valves and water-using appliances. Most residential plumbing systems are robust enough to tolerate high water pressure, but over time, consistent high pressure can also weaken the joints in your plumbing system and cause premature aging of the components and result in catastrophic system failures. Overpressure can also mask other problems that should be corrected, like calcification in faucet fixtures and supply lines.

How do you correct water pressure problems? If your pressure is very high, you can install a water pressure regulator on your main supply line. A water pressure regulator is adjustable, so if you find that a pressure of about 55 psi is not sufficient, you can adjust the pressure as needed.

If you don’t know what your water pressure is, but suspect it’s too high, Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating can help. We’ll measure the water pressure in your system and recommend a pressure regulator if the system pressure is high enough to cause damage, or shorten the life of your water-supplied appliances.
If you’re having problems with low water pressure in a single fixture or section of your plumbing, we can also diagnose and correct that as well. Call us anytime at (617) 288-2911.