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How to Detect a Water Leak Your Home: Signs to Look For + Solutions

Whether you live in an apartment, studio, condo or house, water damage can wreak significant havoc on your living spaces and end up costing you thousands of dollars. Even drying out a property that has not been structurally compromised with mold or had damage done to the carpeting and drywall can cost up to $2,700 after a leak. If restoration and repairs need to be done, that figure could rise to $7,500 and beyond.

Not to mention the money you would be wasting every month on your water bill by having leaky faucets, appliances or piping. Letting leaks continue to drip or allowing toilets to constantly run can cost you anywhere from $1 to $70 per month! It is always a good idea to be vigilant in your home, and there are some simple and smart ways to detect a leak before it’s too late.

How to Spot Water Leaks

One of the easiest ways to tell if you have a water leak is by keeping an eye on your water bills. Compare your most recent water bill to another one you got 3-5 months ago. If there has been a substantial increase with no change made in your regular water use, you may have a leak.

Another proactive step you can take is checking your water meter. The first thing you are going to want to do is turn off the water supply to your home and make sure no appliances that use water (dishwasher, washing machine, etc.) are running. Then go out to your meter and look for any movement or changes. An immediate change with no water running in your house almost always means you have a leak.

If you don’t see any immediate change, keep the water off for a couple of hours and check back with the meter because some underground leaks are subtle, minor or slow-moving but they can still cause a lot of damage and cost.

Knowing what is normal in terms of water usage for your home is helpful too. For example, let’s say you live in an apartment with one roommate. It is typical for water usage to be between 80 and 100 gallons per day. Bump that up to a household of 4, and you are looking at about 400 gallons per day or roughly 12,000-13,000 gallons per month. If your household average lies outside of these ranges, you may have a problem.

One tell-tale sign of a leak is mold, and a dead giveaway that you have mold is an unpleasant odor in or around your home. Typically mold will smell like wet and dirty clothing, and rotted wood.

Checking inside and behind your cabinets for visible leaks is an excellent place to start too. Keep an eye out for pooling water behind or around your appliances, discolored drywall or stagnant water around your bathtub and toilet.

Don’t forget to keep an eye on the exterior of your home as well. Underground irrigation, drip systems, and sprinklers all rely on piping that can easily become damaged or compromised. This will typically result in a spot in your lawn or your backyard that is flooded or consistently has pooling water on it. Also, check your outdoor faucets to make sure they have been shut off all the way and are not dripping.

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What is Likely to Cause A Water Leak?

There are a few usual suspects when it comes to water leaks, and you would do well to know what they are and how you can know for sure if they are indeed leaking water.

The first place you should look is your sinks and faucets. If your sink piping is leaking, then you have probably noticed that the water pressure has dropped. If you look in the cabinet under your sink, you will most likely see puddles of water directly under the piping as well.

If you suspect that the faucet spout itself is leaking, try placing a cup directly under it or placing a paper towel under the spout. Make sure the faucet is shut off entirely and if you see water on the towel or in the glass, you have a leak.

Showerheads that become scaly can clog and force leaks from other areas. Check to see if your showerhead is emitting water where it shouldn’t be. To test your tub for leaks, try sealing the tub with heavy-duty duct tape and filling it with an outside source of water. Let the water sit for about a half-hour and check for any visual signs of leakage on the floor or if you are testing a second-story tub, on the ceiling directly under it. This will tell you whether or not your shower floor is leaking.

Underground water leaks can be detected using a dye test. A dye test involves placing a tablet of colored, non-staining dye in the main drains or downspouts of your home and flushing it out with water. Where you see any coloration that correlates with the dye color is a good place to start hunting for a leak.

The dye can also be used to test toilets for leaks. Simply place some dye or food coloring in the tank of your toilet and wait for about 20 minutes to see if any of the dye shows up in the bowl. Hearing water run long after you have flushed either is also a sign of a leaking toilet.

How to Prevent Water Leaks

If you take the time, you can prevent leaks from occurring in the first place. The best way to prevent leaks is to have your home checked annually by a professional plumber or home services contractor. Regrouting and recaulking as needed, is also a great way to prevent water damage.

Now that you know the tell-tale signs of leaks and what is most likely to cause leaks, there is no better way to prevent a leakage than by keeping a sharp eye on these areas of your home and the many warning signs.

 

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Why Your Water Bill is so High & How to Save Yourself Some Money!

Most Americans get their water from a municipal source which can be a city or village supplier. And, while you would think there would only be one charge on your water bill, there are usually two: one for your water usage and one for your sewer usage. This dual charge can confuse some people especially when the sewer portion is higher than the water portion.

In this article, we look at the two charges, what they mean, and how you can lower your sewer charge.

Water Charges

The water charges on your bill represents the water coming into your home. They calculate this bill on how much water you’re using in a given month. Most American homes have a water meter, which registers the amount of water coming in. The average household water usage is about 88 gallons per day per person living in the house. So, a family of four averages about 10,500 gallons per month. So, when you see your water bill, they base the charge for water on the water that flows through the meter every month. If you see an abnormally high water bill, you should get in touch with a  plumber to see if it is being caused by a leak!

What Is A Sewer Charge?

Different from your water charge is your sewer charge. This part of your water bill represents the amount of water you discharge into the system, or water you use that goes down the drain. While every provider calculates the sewer charge differently, most either charge a flat rate or charge based on the amount of water you use.

Why Is My Sewer Bill So High?

So, now we know the difference between the two charges on your water bill, you’re probably wondering why it is, most times, your sewer bill is higher than your water bill. After all, most people use more water than they put down the drain through drinking, cooking, and watering their lawns.

The main reason your sewer bill is higher than your water bill has less to do with the amount of water used and more to do with the different systems that bring you the water and take it out of your home.

Your drinking water comes into your home via pressurized pipes, which can move both up and down hills. However, wastewater isn’t pressurized and in most cases must flow by gravity. Engineering and constructing drainage systems is complicated and expensive, someone has to pay for it, which is ultimately the customer.

Another factor that plays into the high cost of your sewer bill is the nature of how the water is treated.

Drinking water treatment is standard throughout the country — you filter it, remove any bacteria, and send it out to the homes. Waste water, on the other hand, is more complicated. Way back in the day, wastewater screened and then dumped into creeks or streams.

Today’s technology, however, allows for advanced biological systems and filters to make the water as clean as possible and used for other purposes such as irrigation. Again, all of this technology and treatment comes at a price, which is passed on to the consumer, which is you.

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Why is My Water Bill So High?

As mentioned, most times, a person’s sewer bill is higher than their water bill. But what if your water bill is high too?

Well, if your water bill is high, it means a lot of water is flowing through your meter. Now, you might say you’re not using anymore water than usual, so why is your bill going up?

There are many reasons why a water bill goes up unexpectedly. The first is a raise in your water rates by the municipality from where you get your water. If your rates are the same, but your water bill is still higher than normal, and you don’t think you’re using more, it’s time to look for other causes.

The main cause of a rise in your water bill is an undetected water leak. Water pipes could be leaking under your foundation or somewhere outside the home without your knowledge.

The best way to test for an unseen water leak is to make sure no water is running inside the house and then check the water meter and see if it registers water flowing. If your meter doesn’t have an indicator for water flow, you can perform the same test, but check the dials every hour and see if they register usage. Just be sure you’re not using any water in the home during the test. If it registers water usage, then you have a leak somewhere in your system, and calling in a plumber is the best way to find out exactly where the leak is so you can fix it.

How To Lower Sewer & Water Bills

If your municipality bases your sewer charge on a flat rate, there’s not much you can do to fix that. However, if your sewer bill is based on the amount of water you’re putting into the system, you can manage that to hopefully lower your costs.

The first step is to cut down the water you’re putting into the system, and the best place to do that is in the bathroom. You can start by installing low-flow shower heads to reduce the amount of water you use when you shower. Also, consider taking shorter showers.

Many people like to let the water run when brushing their teeth, but turning the water off during brushing is another easy way to save water going down the drain. Lastly, consider a low flow toilet to save money with each flush.

In the kitchen, fill up your sink to wash dishes instead of running the faucet and run the dishwasher when it’s full. The same goes for laundry; only do a load when the machine is full.

While your municipality sets the rates for your water and sewer service, and there’s not much you can do to alter that, you can change how much of their product you’re using every month to get a lower bill.