The drenching rain of Hurricane Patricia has done a number on the Dallas area a couple of weeks ago and plenty of homes have been dealing with excess water and soggy yards. But sometimes the yard seems a little too wet in one spot, and you may wonder if this is a leaking water pipe or not.
We can’t control the weather, but we can help you take care of the excess water in your yard if it’s due to plumbing leaks. One of our senior technicians, Sean, has the guidance you need for yard leak detection, so you can have your yard plumbing leak done right the first time.
My front yard has excess water… what do I do?
The first step is to verify that the excess water in your yard is there because of a water leak and not due to excess rain. If you have been away, review the recent weather. If you are new to the house, you might ask a neighbor to get a better idea of the yard’s drainage efficiency. Some yards have poor drainage and simply retain rainwater much longer than others. Some homes are situated on ground that has a very high water table. Groundwater can surface continually even if it hasn’t rained recently.
After you have a better idea of the way your yard typically handles moisture and are still concerned about a plumbing leak, you may be able to use your water meter to determine whether the water is plumbing related or not.
Look for your “meter box” which probably has a black lid on it (and is likely labeled “meter”). Most of the time it is near the curb by the street. Open the lid and look inside at the meter. Sometimes the lid opens without difficulty. Sometimes there is a lock that holds it shut and you need a tool called a “water meter key” to open it up. You can buy this tool at your local home improvement store. They are very common and, for the most part, universal. This key has a special shape that is inserted into a recess in the lid. Turn counter-clockwise and pull up to open the lid.
Once you are inside, there should be a little red triangle or silver dial on the meter that will spin if there’s a water leak. If the red dial is spinning, it means water is being used somewhere in the home or water is leaking into the ground. You are one step closer to confirming that the excess water in the yard is due to a leak and not simply leftover from rainy weather. We’re not there yet, though!
(Some areas have newer, digital water meters instead of the analog ones with the red dial. These have an LCD screen that has a bunch of numbers on it. Usually, the screen cycles through several different displays after you open the cover. One of the displays is the GPM flow rate. Gallons per Minute. A GPM of 0.00 means the meter is not registering any flow. Anything higher means water is flowing through the meter.)
Now that you have confirmed there is water flowing into the system through the water meter, you need to check all of the plumbing fixtures inside the home to make sure none of them are running. Don’t forget to check the outdoor faucets too. If one of them is dripping, it will cause the meter to spin as well. Listen carefully at each of the toilets for a hissing sound. If one of them is running, it is using water and you may not even have been aware of it.
Once you are sure there are no above-ground leaks, you then need to check whether the leak is on the irrigation system or whether it is on the “potable water” (plumbing) system.
How do I determine the source of the water leak?
Locate your sprinkler system box; it’s typically close to the meter and it’s probably going to have a green lid on it. The irrigation system box will have the “double check valve” for your sprinkler system. The double check valve should have ball valves on either side (with little lever handles), so that you can shut the water off to isolate the irrigation system.
Make sure your meter is still moving or spinning, then turn the ball valve off on the double check. If the meter stops moving, you know that the leak is on the sprinkler system. You will need to call your sprinkler guy.
If you’ve shut off your sprinkler system and the meter still moves, then you know that you have a leak on the main water lines. This is a very good indication that the wet spot in your yard is caused by a plumbing leak. If the main water line is the source of the leak, you will need the assistance of a professional plumber in Frisco for the plumbing leak repair.
Remember that term “potable water” from earlier? Basically, that means this water is safe to drink. A lot of plumbing code is in place to protect this water from contamination. If a repair is done incorrectly, it not only compromises the safety of your house’s water, but potentially anyone connected to the same water supply. This is why it is important that you only have a licensed plumber make repairs of this sort.