Common Causes of Residential Water Leaks

Do you have a water leak?

Toilet Leaks:

The most common cause for a high water bill is running water from your toilet. A continuously running toilet can waste up to 200 gallons a day. Left undetected, this can increase your bill exponentially. Check out this video on How to Detect A Toilet Leak in a common tank style toilet. Here are the most common causes for leaky toilets:

  • Toilet flapper – The most common leak inside the home is the flapper in a toilet that is not sealing properly. You may hear the toilet refill itself even though it has not been used, or sometimes you can actually see the water trickling inside the bowl when the toilet is not in use. A good way to check for this is the dye test. Lift the lid off the tank of your toilet and put a few drops of food coloring into the water. After 15-30 minutes if the water in the bowl turns the same color as the dye, then you have a leaking flapper. A toilet flapper inexpensive, easy to replace and can be purchased at most hardware stores.
  • Toilet float value – As a toilet refills itself after each use, the water will lift a float in the tank that shuts off the water once the correct level is reached. Over time, this valve may allow the water to run continuously in the tank and down the overflow tube. To see if this is happening, lift the lid off the tank of your toilet and flush. After the water has risen to a certain level, the float valve should stop the water. If the water continues to flow, or if the water is going down the overflow tube, then the float will be need to be adjusted or replaced.

Other common causes of residential leaks:

  • Outside faucets or hoses – Check to see that your outside faucets are shutting off completely. If they drip, they may need new seals or need to be replaced. Other symptoms of a leak on your outside faucet are low water pressure or strange hissing noise when you turn it on.
  • Washing machine lines – Check behind the clothes washer for moisture. The connections and the supply lines from the wall to the machine should be dry to the touch. These are often overlooked and can leak over time, causing high water bills and water damage.
  • Water softeners – Most water softeners have a “backwash” mode to clean the system periodically. When a softener system malfunctions, it can continually run water through the machine and into the drain system.
  • Refrigerator icemaker lines – If the refrigerator is equipped with an icemaker, there will be a small water line behind the refrigerator supplying the water. Look for moisture behind the appliance, the connections, and the hose for leaks.
  • Leaks in the crawlspace – Most homeowners never check under their home, but a leaking or broken pipe in the crawlspace may never be noticed if the water is being absorbed in the ground. Use a flashlight and look for standing water, puddles, or muddy spots. Listen for water running, dripping sounds, or hissing.
  • Irrigation system leaks – Leaks are common on in-ground irrigation systems and may be difficult to locate. Sprinkler heads are easily damaged from lawn mowing equipment and should be checked periodically.
  • Check the Pressure Relief Valve on the hot water heater – Sometimes these valves are plumbed directly into a drain and may be leaking without your knowledge. If you can’t remove the drain pipe to check for a leak listen for a hissing sound, it may be leaking.