OUTDOOR WATER Leaks:
A guide to identification and repair
An important tool
for making repairs is the customer valve on the meter. If you have
one, it is located on the customer side of the meter, and it can be
used to turn off the water to your home while you make repairs.
Service Line Leaks
Your service line
runs from the meter to your house.
Determining if there is a leak can be done by isolating
the line from the rest of the system. Many homes have a shut-off valve
at the front of the house. Look for a pipe rising from the soil and
entering the house. There should be a valve on the line, and possibly
a hose bib as well. If this is the service line, then water pressure
to the rest of the house will be shut off when you close the valve.
The meter can then be checked for leaks, and if the meter is turning,
you probably have a service line leak.
should be used here; there could be a defective valve
that is allowing a small amount of water to leak
through the valve. To determine this, close the valve, then listen to
the valve and the line before and after the valve. A service line leak
may be audible as well, but a valve leak will be louder on the valve,
and quieter as you move away from the valve. To listen, touch one end
of a metal tool where you wish to listen, and place the other end
against your ear.
By the time an older line begins to leak, it probably
has developed other problems.
You should consider replacing the entire service line
if a leak is discovered. This alternative is often easier and cheaper
than locating the leak and making repairs. If you donít have a service
line valve at the house, it would be a good idea to install one.
fixtures should be checked monthly.
Turn on your system and walk around to check for
misdirected or poorly functioning sprinkler heads. Repairs should not
be delayed, as a leak will decrease the systemís performance. Be sure
to keep grass clipped around the heads so that it doesnít interfere
with the spray pattern. Important irrigation tips are provided in
handouts Outdoor Water Conservation, and Drip Irrigation.
Irrigation valve leaks can be detected by listening
to each individual valve in the same manner as the
valve on the service line. If a leak is found, the water should be
turned off and the valve cleaned, repaired or replaced. After you take
the valve apart, look at the diaphragms inside. Wash off any specks of
rust or other debris, because a small piece of debris can cause the
valve to leak. More often than not, a cleaning will solve your
problem. Diaphragms that have become hard or cracked should be
What appears to be a harmless dripping hose spigot can
waste a lot of water
and raise your water bills over the billing cycle. Just
under the handle is a packing nut that may be tightened with a wrench,
in a clockwise direction, to stop a dripping spigot. This is usually
enough to stop a leak, but a persistent drip may indicate that the
spigot needs to be replaced.
Drip Irrigation Systems.
will save a great deal of water,
but only if used properly. Information provided with drip kits may
suggest watering schedules that are excessive. There are a number of
simple practices that will really pay off, so if you have a drip
system, or are contemplating installing one, be sure to read the
handout on Drip Irrigation.
Drip Emitter Problems.
should also be checked monthly
in the same manner as sprinkler heads. They are often
made of hard plastic, and are subject to breaking off when they are
stepped on. If an emitter becomes clogged, it should be cleaned out
or replaced. There are many kinds of emitters currently on the marker,
so do some window shopping before you buy.
Emitters that can be disassembled for cleaning and adjusted for flow
desirable, and should last much longer.
Outdoor water leaks are very common and
easy to find, but they tend to go undetected. After you read this
pamphlet, you will be able to locate the most common leaks. You will
also receive important tips to help you repair them.
More information is available on solving your
water use problems. If you need to speak with someone, call the
Utilities Conservation Office at 781-7217 or 781-7213.