Cumberland Utility District
If you have received an unusually high water bill, there could be a leak somewhere in your home. Usually, you can do it yourself and save some money. This is a step by step guide to finding leaks in your home.
Step 1 - Things you will need to before you start:
Step 2 - Your Water Meter
Locate your water meter. It is usually located near the street on the front of your property. Open the lid and examine the face of the meter.
Make note of the digital meter reading. The reading should be thMake note of the digital meter reading. The reading should be the same, or higher, than your last reading indicated on your most recent water bill. If the current reading is lower than what is indicated on your most recent bill, your meter could have been read incorrectly. Please call (865)882-0395 to report a misread meter.
Next, look at the leak detector for movement. If there is water passing through your meter, the leak detector will be turning counter-clockwise. The more water that flows through the meter, the faster the leak detector will turn. For slight leaks, you may have to watch the leak detector for a few minutes to note movement.
Step 3 - Your Bathroom
In most households, over 75% of entire water usage is in the bathroom.
Here is what to look for
Your toilet(s) can be the biggest source of water waste in your home. A toilet that constantly leaks loud enough for you to hear can waste hundred of gallons of water each day. Also, you cannot always hear or see leaks in your toilet. Here is a proven way to check your toilets for leaks:
Remove the lid from the tank, or the back, of the toilet. Put your ear close to the tank. If you hear a trickle or a hissing sound, you may have a leak. Place two dye tablets or 5-8 drops of food color into the tank of the toilet and wait 15-20 minutes. Do not flush the toilet during this test. After 15-20 minutes, look into the bowl of the toilet. If the color starts to develop in the bowl, there is a leak in your toilet and it must be repaired.
Usually, installing a new flapper will correct the leak. Also check the water level in the toilet tank. In the middle of the toilet, there is an overflow pipe. The water level should be 1/2 inch below the top of this pipe. If the water level is at the top of this pipe, adjust the water level. If not corrected, water can flow over the top, through the bowl and down the drain.
Visually inspect your lavatory faucet(s) for any drips or leaks. If your lavatory faucet drips, of course, you should make necessary repairs for faucets. Next, look under you rlavatory sink and visually inspect the valve connections. Again, if there are any drips, make necessary repairs as soon as possible.
Also, visually inspect your tub/shower faucets for drips or leaks. Again, any leaks should be repaired promptly.
Step 4 - Your Kitchen
Visually inspect your kitchen faucet for any drips or leaks. If your kitchen faucet drips, of course, you should make necessary repairs for faucets. Next, look under your kitchen sink and visually inspect the valve connections. Again, if there are any drips, make necessary repairs as soon as possible.
Your automatic dishwasher only uses about 14 gallons of water per complete cycle. If there are any leaks associated with your dishwasher, repair them immediately.
The clothes washer can develop leaks at the valve connections or in the hoses. Visually inspect these items for any leaks or drips.`
Step 5 - Here are other important items to check in your home:
HOW TO THAW FROZEN WATER PIPES
One of the hazards of winter that a lot of people have experienced is frozen water pipes. Since water expands as it freezes it creates tremendous pressure on the pipes, which in turn can cause them to break and damage your home. To safely and effectively thaw frozen water pipes you must first diagnose where the pipe is frozen.
Start by turning on every faucet in the house, including the bathtub faucets. This will help you determine the area of the blockage. If the water in the kitchen sink is frozen but the water in the bathroom sink works, then you are probably dealing with an isolated problem. Once you have figured out which faucet contains the frozen line, turn off all other faucets.
Step one: Locate the main water shut-off valve, which could be located in the basement, the garage, or outside by the foundation and turn off the water supply to the house. If there is no shut-off valve, you may have to turn the water off at the meter itself. It is important to shut off the water prior to thawing the pipes as a pipe may already have broken under the extreme pressure caused by the frozen line.
Step two: Now that the water is turned off, you have a few options to thaw the pipe:
1. Use towels soaked in hot water. Wrap the frozen pipe with hot, wet towels and pour on additional hot water until the pipe has completely thawed.
2. A hair dryer or heat gun may be the next solution. Turn on the dryer or heat gun and work up and down the length of the frozen line. Once the water starts to thaw and trickle from the faucet, you can turn the main water supply back on. Keep working with the heat source and keep the water faucet turned on until full water pressure is restored.
If every faucet in the house is frozen, you are probably dealing with a frozen main water line that supplies water to the house. Turn on all faucets in the sinks and bathtub and turn off the main water supply. Follow the suggestions in step two but apply the heat directly to the pipe that enters the house.
If your pipes have frozen once, chances are they will freeze again. Here are some tips to keep your pipes working in all seasons.
Wrap outside water pipes or water pipes located under the house or crawl spaces with an insulation material such as newspaper or electric heat tape taking special care to cover all elbow joints, valve bodies, tees and any other fittings. Electric heat tape is available at your local hardware store. You must know the measurement of the length of the pipe to determine the amount of electric heat tape needed as it is sold in ready-made lengths and cannot be cut or otherwise modified. The electric heat tape can be run along the length of the water pipe and secured with cable ties or it can actually be wrapped around the pipe itself to provide additional heat for extremely cold weather. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when applying the tape.
When temperatures drop, open up the cabinets under all the sinks in the kitchen and bathrooms to allow warm air to circulate in and around the pipes.
Leave the water dripping in all faucets and bathtubs during the coldest weather.
Keep the thermostat set at a constant temperature both day and night. If your home is unoccupied during extremely cold weather, keep the thermostat no lower than 55ºF.
Never use a heat source with an open flame such as a blowtorch or propane heater to thaw a frozen water line as an open flame in a home can present a serious fire hazard as well as the possibility of exposure to carbon monoxide poisoning. Also, excessive heat from a blowtorch applied to a frozen pipe can cause the water inside the pipe to boil and possibly explode.
After the Thaw:
Once the water pipe is thawed and flowing normally, check carefully for any pipe cracks that might have developed. If there are any leaks the plumbing must be repaired as soon as possible. Now that problem spots have been identified, think of better precautions to take in the future.
Installing a Water Pressure Reducing Valve
Because of Cumberland Utility District’s geographical area, water main pressures can range from a minimum of 20 PSI to over 200 PSI. Pressure regulators protect household appliances and increase water conservation. CUD recommends that pressure regulators be installed on the Customer’s side of the meter in order to protect service lines and appliances. This is a voluntary installation and the cost is the customer's and/or owner's expense. These regulators may be purchased wherever plumbing supplies are sold. If you have any questions on this, your plumber can check your pressure before your service line is connected.
CUD works hard to insure that the water we bring to your home is the safest, purest available. That is why we are constantly on the alert for any situation that would degrade that purity. Our cross-connection prevention program is one way that our staff ensures that the water you and your family drink is always the best. We believe, however, that every water customer should know about cross-connections. A cross-connection is any pipe, valve, fixture, etc. in a drinking water plumbing system that may allow the drinking water within the system to become contaminated or questionable in quality. Even a lawn sprinkler system can be a potential source for contamination. Cross-connections can be eliminated or protected by an air gap or mechanical backflow prevention. Please contact our office for additional information.
Clean, safe drinking water. It is something we take for granted, but every home may have potential hazards which threaten to contaminate our drinking water. Ensuring our water is safe is everyone’s responsibility.
Cross Connections - What is a cross connection? A cross connection is a direct link between a household water line and a contaminated source such as a garden hose, toilet tank or laundry tub. The most common contaminants, such as pesticides, sewage and detergents, can enter your drinking water system through cross connections in home water lines.
Back Siphonage —Most household cross connections are created by hoses. Under certain conditions, the flow in household water lines can reverse and siphon contaminants into the water supply. For example, using a garden hose to spray pesticides or fertilizers is normally harmless, but if the city’s water supply is interrupted while you are spraying, you may have a problem. If water main pressure is reduced due to a water main break or nearby fire fighting, a back siphonage effect is created. This can draw water from your garden hose into your home water supply. So if you have pesticide or fertilizer sprayer attached to your garden hose, the chemicals can contaminate your water supply.
Back pressure —Your drinking water can also be contaminated by an effect called back pressure. Back pressure results when your water supply is connected to a system under high pressure.
THE SOLUTIONSYou can easily prevent back siphonage by installing inexpensive safety devices or taking a few simple precautions.
Solution 1 - Anti-siphon Ballcocks - For example, toilet tanks contain a ballcock device which allows water into the tank after flushing. Older style ballcocks do not have an anti-siphon feature and can allow water from the toilet tank to backflow into your drinking water line. (fig. 1) A simple anti-siphon ballcock (fig. 2) installed with a 25mm (1”) air gap above the overflow tube will prevent contaminated tank water from entering your water supply.
Solution 2 - Hose Connection Vacuum Breakers - You can also prevent back siphonage by using an inexpensive, easy-to-install hose connection vacuum breaker. This one-way valve allows water to flow from the tap, but not back in. (Drainable vacuum breakers should be installed on all taps which could freeze.)
Solution 3 - Air Gaps - Leave a gap of at least one inch or two times the pipe diameter (whichever is greater) between the end of a hose and a source of contamination. This eliminates a link between the two. Never leave a hose where it can suck contaminants back into the drinking water supply, such as in a swimming pool, bathtub, sink or fish tank.
WHEN TO CALL THE EXPERTS
Hot water boilers for heating homes, underground lawn sprinkler systems, and automobile pressure washers form cross connections which need proper control. Due to the complexity of these systems, a qualified plumber who is a certified Cross Connection Control specialist should be called for advice and assistance.
Federal and provincial governments are responsible for setting high standards for water quality. Cumberland Utility District is responsible for producing and supplying drinking water which meets or exceeds these standards. Homeowners are responsible for ensuring that drinking water does not become contaminated as a result of a cross connection. Remember, you are not only protecting your own water supply, but your neighbors’ as well.
Underground Sprinklers for lawns
Automatic Water for livestock tanks
All of the above can be extremely hazardous.
Installing a thermal expansion tank
Cumberland Utility District recommends the installation of a thermal expansion tank on your water heater. When water is heated it expands. For example, water heated from 90ºF to a thermostat setting of 140ºF in a 40 gallon hot water heater will expand by almost one-half gallon. This is because when water is heated, its density decreases and its volume expands. Because water is not compressible, the extra volume created by expansion must go someplace. During no-flow periods in a system, pressure reducing valves, backflow preventers, and other one-way valves are closed, thus eliminating a path for expanded water to flow back to the system supply. Therefore, pressure increases.
Thermal expansion of water in a
closed plumbing system can create a number problems, some potentially dangerous.
Problems that can occur are: the build up of unusually high pressure in a system
(even when a pressure reducing valve is installed); pressure surges; and the
chronic or continuous dripping of a temperature and pressure relief valve.
Dripping faucets and leaking toilet tank ball cock fill valves are also
symptomatic of thermal expansion.