Not finding water leak

Problem: Is it uncommon to not find a leak this large? ($10,000-12,000/ mo for 100 homes).

Are water leaks really that hard to find? Looking at a park and I am told that the water leak detection company cannot find the leak. Why they cannot find it is unclear to me as they have had leak detection companies come and still are unable to find. This has been over 24 months of really excessive usage. Owner was told they need to find all the small leaks first before they can locate the larger leak. This sounds like bull to me. Seems to me the present owners are being taken and a new owner would need to hire someone who knows what they are doing and demand it be found or no pay.

Thanks in advance. Mark

It’s uncommon to not be able to easily find a large leak, but not super rare. As alluded to in your post, if there are multiple leaks, they may have to be identified and fixed one at a time.

If I had the park under contract, I wouldn’t be too concerned about eventually locating and fixing the leaks. My bigger concern would be if there was something fundamentally wrong with the water system (aging pipes, poorly installed pipes, etc).

We just went through this at one of our parks. Our usage was up about 15,000 gallons but the manager couldn’t find the leak anywhere and assumed it was underground. We called our local plumbers and they told us it was too small to find if it was underground. We called American Leak Detection and they said the same thing. Since we meter the tenant’s water, and the extra usage wasn’t showing up on the readings, we knew the leak was somewhere from the meter to the pit or indeed, underground. I spent a day searching under each home. I found one water meter that was leaking but it was just squirting a small stream from the bottom.

Nevertheless, we replaced the meter and then monitored the usage at the main. Sure enough, that little stream amounted to 15,000 gallons over the course of a month. I would never have believed it but the numbers are the numbers. Others may disagree but if a 100 space park is only losing 10,000 gallons that they can’t account for, I would consider that pretty good. In fact, I’d be happy with those numbers. a 10,000 gallons leak could literally be a little tiny pinhole. You can find these charts online. a pinhole leak at 60 psi is more like 25,000 gallons loss over the course of a month.

Another thing, that 10,000 gallons may not be one leak. It could be multiple, tiny leaks spread out over 100 spaces. If you have curb boxes at each lot, you can narrow down the search by shutting off water at the curb boxes and watching the master meter to see if water is still being forced through the meter. If you don’t have curb boxes, which we don’t, then you have to do it the old fashioned way like we did and crawl under homes.

Just my opinion…


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Are you saying total bill is $12 to 15k a month?
The real question is how many gallons that represents and what was the normal usage prior to the leak(s)? Once we know total gallons then we can speculate on the size of the leak. However some times you can hunt for months or years and never find the leak. Generally they can be found, remember the skill level of the leak detection guys varies widely even in the same company.

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The park is sub metered and the billed usage is approx. $4000-5000/mo so the usage is 2.5-3 times what is used. I do not know the actual gallons but a $40-50/mo/unit seems like a normal usage. Thanks for all the input.

No idea if this will help… but… I had a leak that was caused by an installer driving a home over a water line that happened to also cross over a sewer line cracking both lines so that the water was pouring down into the sewer so no visible leak above ground at all. It was found by listening for rushing water after getting a HUGE water bill. I have tried to install clean outs at every lot for the sewer (still doing this) so we opened the clean out and check for running water thinking there might be a toilet issue, etc… but on second check with the utility company… listening for sound found the issue. I have since replaced and relocated all the water lines and installed meters at each lot.

Water Leaks:
Sub-meters are the best first line of defense to finding water leaks:

  • Check the accuracy of your sub-metering service. 1000 (no laundry) to 2000 gallons per occupant per home is a normal range.
  • Most services can identify continuous water use (leaks).

We have identified numerous errors, so check the accuracy of your main “master” meter:

  • Meter reader reading the wrong meter;
  • Under estimated readings than catch- up readings;
  • An extra digit is mystically added or deleted to the readings;
  • Very rarely, yes,… we have found unauthorized tapping into a water line (a new neighbors’ irrigation system). Take a look at your usage if your losing 10, 000 gallons or more a month there should be some tell tale evidence, again. "How’s your neighbor’s garden doing ?"

Finally, PLEASE NOTE: A new meter will always record more usage , think twice before blaming an “old” meter.

"We’re here to answer your sub-metering questions"

We use Leak Detection Services - the guy comes out with headphones and a probe looking thing (Like a metal detector) and can tell you how deep the line is and all. Call one in your area.