Finding Water Leaks

Be aware that the exact location of a leak may not always be immediately obvious. The old expression "water finds it own level" is true, some leaks may start at one location, then flow along a board or pipe for a distance before they drain down and create some visible damage in a location not in proximity to the actual leak.

Look for discoloration, wet, or warped areas on your ceilings, floors, walls and woodwork. Don’t forget to check the bottoms of the sink cabinets for signs of water as well. As you attempt repair, keep the check twice rule in play - be sure to check twice for the actual location of the leak, not just the resulting damage from the leak.

How to Detect For Water Leaks

Use your water meter to check for leaks. After making sure that all faucets, washing machines, tubs, showers, etc. are turned off, check the water meter where the water piping enters your property and observe if there is any movement of the dial. There is a leak detector dial on the face of the meter that will show movement if water is still slowly entering the building. Depending on the brand of the meter, the leak indicator can be a small triangular shaped dial or a small red, blue or silver wheel that rotates when water is flowing through the meter. If there is movement, water is leaking somewhere. By listening carefully around your property, you may be able to track down the leak by hearing the hiss of water running, if unable to self diagnosis the problem it’s always best to call a professional to take care of the issue.

The next step is to determine if the leak is inside or outside of your property. Locate your property’s main shut off valve and shut off the water going into the building. In most cases, you will find the shut off valve in the basement or garage directly behind an outdoor spigot, or outside near a spigot. To be sure the leak is inside or outside, check the leak indicator again for movement. With having the main shut off valve closed, this will tell you one of two things. First, if the leak indicator stops moving or there is no change in the meter readings, then you have a leak inside of the property, because the valve being shut doesn’t allow for water to enter the building. If the leak indicator continues to move or there is a change in the meter readings, then the leak is outside between the meter and the property because water is moving through the meter but not entering the building.

Leaking Faucets

Leaking faucets are generally caused by a worn rubber washer. The washer on a sink is usually located under the handle. These are relatively easy to replace, if you have the right tools. This repair does require shutting off the water under the sink or at the main shutoff valve and removing the handle. REMEMBER: faucets are not shutoff valves. Check your local home center or hardware store on how to repair faucet leaks.

Leaking Toilets

Toilet leaks waste hundreds of gallons of water a year and most of the time go un-repaired because you can’t hear this happening. Thankfully, most toilet leaks are easy and inexpensive to repair.

To help determine if you have a leaking toilet, one of the simplest ways to check is to remove the tank lid and place a few drops of food coloring in back of the toilet tank be careful it doesn’t take much to check this way. Leave the toilet alone for about a half an hour, without flushing, check the toilet bowl to see of any color has come through. If the water is clear, water is not leaking. If there is color in the bowl you have a leak.

   Flapper Value Leaks

The most common reason for a leaking toilet is a defective flapper. The flapper is the large rubber piece at the bottom of the tank that lifts up when the toilet is flushed allowing water to enter the bowl. If the flapper is worn or cracked, it allows water to continuously flow from the tank into the toilet bowl without flushing. Replacing of the flapper valve is usually doable by the property owner with parts that can be found at most hardware stores.

Flush Handle Problems

If the handle needs to be jiggled to get the toilet to stop running means the flush level bar and chain are probably sticking.  One way to correct this is to adjust the nut that secures it in the toilet tank. If that does solve the problem, chances are the handle may have to be replaced.

   Overflow Tube Leaks

Best way to check this is to see if the water level is set about even with the fill line on the back of the toilet tank, you can double-check this by checking to see if the water is sitting approximately one-half inch below the overflow tube. If the water is too high in the toilet tank and is spilling into the overflow tube you are loosing water.  The level is adjusted by turning the adjustment screw or by very gently bending the float arm down so that the water stops filling the tank at a level below the overflow tube.

Worst Case - If none of these steps solve the problem, you may need to contact a plumber to repair or replace the toilet.

  1. Waste Water Treatment Plant

    Physical Address
    1801 Van Horn Road
    Trenton, MI 48183

    Mailing Address
    1801 Van Horn Road
    Trenton, MI 48183

    Fax: 734-675-5382

  2. Shawn O'Day

    WWTP Superintendent

  3. Ron Honeycutt

    Plant Foreman