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Question DetailsAsked on 10/22/2014

How can I find a water leak if there is no water anywhere to be found? Got a high bill and meter shows being used.

I checked my meter. City just changed meters out to digital(could it be the meter?), and I get a very high water bill. Plumber couldn't find any leaks. NO wet spots in the ground. I'm on a slab but no water inside house. Walked all around house, no water spots. Water bill was $300. Usually around 20. Checked toilets, water heaters, etc. I need help. Not sure what to do. American Leak Detection says they can find it for around $1000. But is there even a leak? Should I get them to change meters out on it and see if it's just reading wrong? Any help is appreciated.

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Here is a prior fairly comprehensive answer I gave to a prior question on how to find leaks - ignore the water heater part -

First thing I would do is check the bill and the current reading - either they took a reading when the old meter was taken out and then restarted on that day with a zero reading on the new meter, or may have programmed the new meter to match the old reading and went from there - look at the readings they show and see if they make sense on the bill and also what the pro-rated consumption from the last reading date to now is - they may have swapped a couple of digits or something when they took the old meter out, or failed to record the reading so the new meter reading makes it look like the meter rolled over at 10,000 or 100,000 or whatever its maximum reading is when it is actually due to the new meter starting at zero in mid-month.

I would imaging, at first glance, that since this high usage matches up with the installation of the new meter, that it is a meter setting problem, a faulty meter, or they created a leak on your side of the meter when they installed it. I would try to put the responsibility back on them if possible, especially if you provide them with a plumber's invoice showing a leak was searched for and not found - that also may help get them to remove the high charge, as most utilities will forgive much or all of an unusually large bill if you prove that the leak was fixed or professionally searched for and not found.

Would not hurt to try to locate it yourself before using the leak detection contractor - and $1000 to find a leak sound outrageous to me - usually about $100-200 for a water pipe contractor with an electronic sonic locator. Very few plumbers have these, usually only owned by commercial pipeline contractors and water utilities. Have you asked your water utility if they a sonic water locator - they will commonly listen for leaks up to your house for free, even if their responsibility legally stops at the curb or meter.

Best DIY thing to do would probably be to use a stethoscope to see if you can hear water flowing at the meter when all use in the house (and all circulating pumps and A/C and furnace fan and such) are off, then if you hear flow do same at house end and several places in house to see if water flow is in the house or in the ground between the house and the street.

A few in-house places water can disappear without seeing it - a water trap trickle fill valve designed to keep water in a laundry room or mud room or under-dishwasher trap, a continuously leaking flush valve on a water softener, leaking sprinkler system controller valves letting water bleed into sprinkler system, leaking pool or pool circulating system, continuous-flow system left on in sauna or hot tub, leaking solar water heating system or geothermal heat system using potable water rather than antifreeze in it, leak in pipes in crawlspace or basement.

Answered 5 years ago by LCD

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