An underground water leak is many homeowners' worst nightmare, since it can be a messy and complicated problem. Water leaks are inconvenient, causing higher utility bills, low water pressure or flooding in the yard. Underground plumbing damage can also extensively damage a home, including the foundation.
Plumbing leaks under a house can be challenging to identify, allowing the problem to grow unnoticed for years. However, some identifiable signs can help you catch an underground water leak before it becomes a significant problem. Below, you'll learn how to tell if you have a water leak underground to help remedy it as soon as possible.
Causes of Underground Water Leaks
A leak in your underground pipes can happen for numerous reasons, including:
- Poor installation
- Aged pipes
- Shifting soil
- Unstable water chemistry
Most of these situations tend to create small pinholes in pipes, which leak a small amount of water. However, these pinholes can become more extensive, dumping a significant amount of water into the surrounding soil. Older homes, particularly those built more than 15 years ago, are more susceptible to underground plumbing leaks. Regularly checking your home is the best way to spot a leak before it becomes a significant problem that can cause severe damage.
Signs of Underground Water Leaks
Underground water leaks typically have noticeable signs, whether indoors or outside. However, these tend to differ depending on the leak's location.
Red flags of a plumbing leak under the house include:
- Mold or sewage odors
- Slowly increasing water bill
- A drop in water pressure, especially when using specific appliances such as showers or baths
- Poor water quality, including dirty or rusty water
- Splashing or hissing noises, usually from water spraying the soil cavity or decreases in pressure
- An increase in mold or insects attracted by the water in your home
Here's what to look for if you think you have an underground water leak outside your home.
- Sewage smells
- Noticeable wet spots on your lawn
- Sinkholes or potholes
- Parts of your yard that are significantly greener and lusher than other areas
- Breaking or cracking of paved areas
- Flooding water around sprinkler heads
- Increasing water bill without household water usage changes
If you notice these signs of a water leak, call a professional as soon as possible. Interior leaks can cause severe water damage, while outdoor plumbing leaks can harm your lawn and potentially lead to issues with your home's foundation.
Some of these problems, such as sinkholes or mold, can be dangerous for you and your family, so repairs should be your top priority. A licensed plumber can pinpoint the leak's source and take steps to fix it quickly.
Ways to Test for a Plumbing Leak
If you've noticed some of the signs above but want the verify that you have a plumbing leak before calling a professional, there are two simple ways to check.
1. Test Your Main Water Line
Main water line leaks can cause significant problems, especially when the leak is inside your home. You can follow these steps to test your main water line:
- Shut off all water fixtures. Check your faucets to ensure they're not running or dripping.
- Find your water meter in a box near the front of your home or sidewalk.
- Read the water meter. If you have a digital meter, you can shine a flashlight on the flow screen to see if there's a number flashing above zero. If the number is above zero, you have a water leak. If you have an analog meter, look for a small silver wheel or red triangle dial. If the wheel or dial is moving when nothing in your home is using water, you have a plumbing leak.
Once you've determined you have a leak, try to identify its source. First, look for your home's water shutoff valve, often on an outside wall, garage or basement. Once you've located the valve, turn it off. Now that the water is off in your home, return to your water meter. If the leak indicator stops moving, you have a leak inside your home. If the indicator keeps moving, the leak is somewhere outside your home.
2. Test Your Sewer Line
If your main water line isn't leaking, the leak might be within your sewer line instead. Follow these steps to test your sewer line for a leak:
- Find a dye, such as food coloring.
- Pour a few ounces of dye into your toilet and flush it several times.
- Wait between 30 and 60 minutes. Go to the location in your year where you suspect the leak is, and if the dye shows up, it means you have a sewer line leak.
Remember, this test only works if you have a sewer line leak outside your home. If you believe you have a sewer line leak inside your home, you'll need to contact a professional so they can use a camera to find it.
How Do You Fix an Underground Plumbing Leak?
Usually, the best way to fix a plumbing leak is to contact a professional plumber. They can single out the leak's source and efficiently repair the problem. Depending on the extent of the damages, you may need to replace your entire water or sewer line. A trained plumber can help you with this.
Typically, plumbers repair broken pipes by excavating the area, removing the damaged pipe and installing a new one. As a cleaner alternative, you might choose trenchless repair technology for your water or sewer line. This technique involves making a small access hole, which reduces the need to expose the whole pipe. Plumbers can fix the leak through the access hole using a high-quality resin. This method saves you from repairing your landscaping on top of your pipes.
Contact ServiceMaster of Lincoln Park to Repair Water Damage From a Leak
If you've had a water leak that's caused damage to your home, ServiceMaster of Lincoln Park can help you repair the damage with our water restoration services. We've got you covered, whether you're dealing with a water line or sewer leak. We also offer sewage cleanup services to help you handle sewer leaks and backups. Our speedy services can help you return to your everyday life.
We pride ourselves on our quality and customer service. We promise to do the job the right the first time, or we'll do it over. Since every water damage situation is unique, we use a full range of techniques to meet your needs. Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help!