HIGH WATER BILLS
WARNING: Should you wish to perform your own
plumbing maintenance using the information we provide on this
website, please be advised that Old School Plumbing cannot be
held responsible for any work not performed by our own
licensed master plumber. Failure to contract any plumbing
work to a licensed master plumber could result in serious bodily
injury or death.
A higher than normal water bill might be your first indication of a leaking
pipe. Or you might hear the sound of running water even when all your fixtures
are turned off. When you suspect a leak, check the fixtures first to make sure
all the faucets are tightly closed. Then go to the water meter, if you have one.
If the dial is moving, you're losing water somewhere in the system.
Locating the Leak
Try these tips to locate a leak.
- The sound of running water helps. If you hear it, follow it to its
source. You can buy a listening device that amplifies sounds when it's held
up to a pipe.
- If water is staining the ceiling or dripping down, the leak is probably
- Occasionally, water may travel along a joist and then stain or drip at a
point some distance from the leak.
- If water stains a wall, it means there's a leak in a section of pipe.
- Any wall stain is likely to be below the actual location of the leak and
you'll probably need to remove part of the wall to find it.
- Without the sound of running water and without drips or stains as
evidence, leaks are more difficult to find. Using a flashlight, check all
the pipes in the basement or in the crawl space.
Fixing the Leak
If the leak is major, turn off the water immediately, either at the fixture
shutoff valve or the main shutoff valve. You'll probably have to replace the
leaky section of pipe. If your experience working with pipes is limited, you'll
probably want to call in a plumber to do the job. If the leak is small, the
ultimate solution is to replace the pipe, but there are temporary solutions
until you have time for the replacement job. These methods work for small leaks
- Clamps should stop most leaks for several months if they're used with a
solid rubber blanket. It's a good idea to buy a sheet of rubber, as well as
some clamps sized to fit your pipes at a hardware store and keep them on
hand just for this purpose.
- A sleeve clamp that exactly fits the pipe diameter works best. Wrap a
rubber blanket over the leak, then screw the clamp down over the blanket.
- An adjustable hose clamp used with a rubber blanket stops a pinhole
- If nothing else is at hand, use a C-clamp, a small block of wood and a
- In a pinch, try applying epoxy putty around a joint where a clamp won't
work. The pipe must be dry for the putty to adhere. Turn off the water
supply to the leak and leave the water off until the putty hardens
completely on the pipe.
- If you don't have a clamp or putty, you can still stop a small leak
temporarily by plugging it with a pencil point.